- 'I was only joking.’
Sarcasm is one of the most common manifestations of passive aggressiveness. If your partner makes a comment that upsets you and this is what follows, then you know it wasn't a joke at all. The person meant what was said but is attempting to cover up his or her true feelings of wanting to hurt you – worst is when done publicly in front of friends or family.
This is the 2nd worst message to convey since you are telling your partner that what they are saying is irrelevant to you. It is intended to be dismissive and conveying lack of respect for your partner’s position. When having a disagreement and you drop the 'whatever' response, you are telling the other person that their opinion is not worth your time.
- 'I'm not mad.'
In reality, this person is livid. They're just not being honest with you. In reality, when you use this phrase, you are not being honest with your partner. Better to learn to express how you feel more constructively.
Whenever someone tells you that everything is "fine," that typically means the opposite. Passive aggressive individuals tend to use phrases like 'Fine' in order to express anger indirectly and to shut down direct, emotionally honest communication.
- 'No worries.'
Actually, you do have worries and typically this term translates to I'm saying no worries but what I actually mean is screw you. I won't say what I'm really feeling but will hold it against you until I explode.
- 'If you really want to.'
This phrase may appear to be accommodating, but don't be fooled. Whenever you use this phrase, you are actually being noncommittal. It may sound as if you're going along with the plan, but inside you're not all that thrilled and hedging your bet— but you just don't know how to communicate those feelings, or you may thing that the other person will be mad.
It also gives you an excuse from responsibility if things don’t work out – I call this one the “Pilate like position” since you can then absolve yourself of responsibility when it does not work out.
- 'Thanks in advance.'
It's another phrase that may appear innocent at first. But it pretty much means that you're expecting them to do whatever it is you're asking and they pretty much have to do it. This damages your relationship with this person.
- 'I was surprised/confused/curious about …'
When you hear this or see the text you can be certain it is used to disguise criticism, as opposed to be being upfront.
- 'So …'
How can a two-letter word pack such a punch? Because most of the time it's followed by text that either is awkward or shows their agitation. For example, "So ... are we going to the movies tonight?" or "So ... did you get my email?" The person on the other side is clearly agitated that you haven't responded yet. Or, it could be the beginning of an uncomfortable conversation; the person just does not know how to come out and say it.
- 'Hope it's worth it.'
This phrase should be rather obvious. The person you’re communicating with clearly doesn't want you to do something but is aware that you will do so anyway. Instead of expressing concern, the person will leave with this passive-aggressive text and stew until it become a major issue. This person will also beg you to discuss it later so he or she can use the phrase again on you. It's a shaming phrase.
Based on information from an article in Entrepreneur magazine by John Rampton