What makes passive-aggressive people difficult to deal with is the fact that they’re often so slick.
Say, “I really hope that I’m not right, but I have this feeling that you’re being passive-aggressive.” Continue by saying, “Let me tell you the specific things you’re doing that I’m having a negative reaction to,” and then give him specifics.
The goal is not to have him say, “You’re right” right away, so say your peace and then give him some time (a few hours, a day) to digest it.
Finally, conclude your talk by saying, “When I start feeling this way, it makes me feel less close to you.
But trust me when I say that people who are passive-aggressive have gotten this feedback from other people for years.
When dealing with someone who gets passive-aggressive, you don’t need to give thousands of details or examples to substantiate your point; just say the words “passive-aggressive” and he or she will instantly know 1) what you mean, and 2) that you’re probably right – even if they won’t admit it. Passive-aggressive behavior is behavior in which someone, with one fell swoop, attempts two separate goals: to express anger toward you, and to frustrate you.
The added bonus for you is that having this routine protocol to use allows you to simply recite the script when it happens, as opposed to taking the behavior personally, trying to figure out his motivations, or letting the behavior upset you yet again.