How to Deal With Ungrateful People (With Expert Insights)

It’s great when people show gratitude, but sadly, not everyone does. If you’ve ever felt like your hard work or kindness is ignored or not appreciated, you know how much it can hurt.

While we can’t force someone to be grateful, there are ways to handle these situations without getting too stressed or upset.

In this article, I’ll share some ways to deal with ungrateful people. These tips will help you protect your own happiness and well-being. So, let’s get started! By the end, you might just see these moments a little differently.

Table of Contents

Recognize That You Cannot Change Everyone

Some people just won’t change, no matter what you do. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true — like it or not, we all have our ways, and no one can make anyone else say ‘thank you’ if they don’t want to.

You could be the kindest soul on the planet, and there’ll still be someone who won’t give you a smile. That’s life, and that’s people for you. Your job isn’t to make everyone grateful; it’s to do your best and be okay when things don’t change.

Avoid Taking Things Personally

Getting upset because someone didn’t say thank you is like getting mad at rain for falling; it’s not personal.

People have all sorts of things going on in their lives, and when they don’t show gratitude, it’s usually about them, not you.

It can sting when your good deed goes unnoticed, but not everything is a direct shot at you. Let it roll off your back, and keep being the good person you are.

Set Clear Boundaries with the Person

When someone can’t find the words to show appreciation, you must tell them what’s okay and what’s not. It’s like saying, “Hey, you’ve got to knock before entering my room.” That’s setting boundaries.

Being upfront about how you expect to be treated helps everyone understand the rules. It’s a way of saying, “I respect myself enough to need respect from you, too.”

"It’s okay to have boundaries and to choose where you invest yourself."

— Jayaleigh Bowen | Transformational Life Coach

Keep Your Expectations Realistic

Just like you wouldn’t expect a fish to fly, don’t expect a big thank you from someone who’s not big on showing gratitude.

If you’re always expecting praise or thanks, you might end up feeling let down a lot. It’s better to just do nice things without hoping for a big reaction every time.

Think of it like this: if you get a thank you, that’s a bonus, but if you don’t, no big deal, you did a good thing anyway.

Use “I” Statements to Avoid Blame

Talking about what you’re feeling without pointing fingers is like telling someone they’ve got something in their teeth without making them feel bad.

When you start sentences with “I feel” instead of “you never,” it’s easier to talk about tough stuff without causing a fight. This way, you’re not accusing anyone of being ungrateful; you’re just saying how things make you feel, which is fair game.

Express Your Feelings Honestly and Respectfully

Being clear about how you feel doesn’t mean you have to throw a fit or be rude. It’s totally fine to let someone know that their lack of thank yous rubs you the wrong way. Just keep it polite, and don’t let your emotions lead the conversation.

For instance, you tell a friend, “When you borrow my things without thanking me, it makes me feel unappreciated.” You’ve said your piece without blowing your top.

Respond with Kindness and Calm

When someone doesn’t show gratitude, it’s tempting to snap back, but that would only add fuel to the fire. Staying kind and calm cools things down.

Reacting with anger won’t make an ungrateful person grateful, but responding with kindness might throw them off their game — in a good way.

You keep the peace and show how it’s done at the same time. And even if they don’t change, you stay the bigger person.

Practice Patience and Compassion

Dealing with someone who doesn’t show gratitude can be a test of patience. Think of it like a slow internet connection — getting mad won’t make it go faster, but patience might make the wait less annoying.

Compassion means trying to see beyond their lack of thanks and understanding there might be reasons behind it. It’s not about letting them off the hook; it’s about not letting their behavior get to you. And with time, they might start picking up on your good vibes.

Seek to Understand Their Perspective

We’re all different. What seems rude to you might not even register with someone else. Before you label someone as ungrateful, try to get where they’re coming from. It could be their upbringing, culture, or they’re just having a rough time.

Understanding doesn’t mean you agree, but it can help you see the full picture. And who knows, once they realize you’re actually listening, they might start to open up.

"Invite them to speak about what this was like for them, what happened from their perspective, and commit yourself to listen and to keep listening, even when you feel triggered."

Annemiek van Helsdingen | Founder, Academy for Soul-based Coaching

Choose Your Battles Wisely

Not every situation deserves a big reaction. Sometimes, it’s better to save your energy instead of getting worked up over a missing ‘thank you.’

Think about it — is this really worth your time? If someone’s lack of gratitude doesn’t affect your day-to-day life, it might just be a small thing to brush off. Save your efforts for the big stuff — the things that truly matter to you and your well-being.

Keep Communication Open and Clear

Being upfront with how you feel can prevent misunderstandings. If someone’s not showing gratitude and it’s bugging you, tell them. But remember, do it in a way that’s easy to understand — no beating around the bush or using fancy words.

Clear communication is key. For instance, you’re upset your friend isn’t pitching in for gas money. You tell them directly, “I’d appreciate it if you could chip in for fuel.”

Focus on Your Own Actions and Reactions

At the end of the day, you’re the boss of you — no one else. You can’t control what someone else does or whether they’re grateful, but you can control how you respond.

By choosing to act with kindness and not let others’ behavior get to you, you stay in charge of your own feelings. It’s about taking responsibility for your part in interactions.

Stay Positive and Upbeat

Keeping a positive attitude, even when others don’t say thanks, can be like a sunny day in the middle of a drizzly week. It feels better to be cheerful than let someone’s mood bring you down.

It’s not just about faking a smile; it’s about genuinely seeing the good around you.

Your positive energy might not change the ungrateful person, but it’ll change how you feel about the situation. Keep your spirits high, and you’ll find that ungratefulness bothers you less and less.

"Think positively - Turn the negative situations with ungrateful clients you have dealt with and turn them into something positive."

Charlotte Howard | Author | Award-Winning Business Breakthrough Strategist

Educate Them on the Impact of Their Actions

Sometimes, people aren’t aware of how their actions affect others. Educating someone about the impact of their ungrateful behavior can be an eye-opener for them. It’s about helping them understand how their words and actions make others feel.

This isn’t about lecturing or blaming, but about sharing insights in a helpful and constructive way. By making them aware, you not only give them a chance to change but also improve the relationship.

Offer Help or Support if Appropriate

Helping out an ungrateful person might seem the last thing you want to do, but sometimes, it’s the right move. If they’re overwhelmed or having a rough time, a helping hand might just be what they need to get back on track.

Think of it as being the bigger person. You can be kind without expecting anything back.

Focus on Building Other Positive Relationships

When someone doesn’t value your kindness, it’s better to spend your time with people who do. There are plenty of others who would love to have you around!

Focusing on the good people in your life is like turning up the music to drown out the noise. These positive relationships can give you the good vibes you deserve.

Avoid Gossip and Talking Behind Their Back

Talking about someone’s ungratefulness behind their back isn’t going to help the situation. It just makes the problem bigger and messier.

Stick to the high road; if you’ve got something to say, say it to their face or let it go. This keeps things straightforward, and you won’t be contributing to any drama.

Maintain a Healthy Distance When Needed

If someone’s lack of gratitude really gets on your nerves, it’s okay to step back a bit. Think of it as taking a breather when a room gets too stuffy. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up on them; just giving yourself some space.

By stepping away, you give yourself a break from their negative vibes and keep yourself feeling fresh and ready to deal with them another day.

Assume Good Intent Unless Proven Otherwise

It’s easy to jump to conclusions when someone isn’t showing gratitude, but give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they have a lot on their mind, or they’re just not great at expressing themselves.

Believing that most people mean well until they show you otherwise can make your interactions less stressful. It keeps the mood light and the doors open for possible gratitude down the road.

"Let's understand the other side. Some people are not ungrateful; they just do not know how to express gratitude. They may be dealing with their issues; your help may not have gone unnoticed, the timing may not be right for them to acknowledge your help."

Ravi Kathuria | Author, "Happy Soul. Hungry Mind.: A modern-day parable about Spirituality” | Founder

Don’t Overreact to Negative Behavior

Blowing up over someone’s bad manners can just leave everyone feeling worse. Picture it like overfilling a balloon; it’s bound to pop and make a scene.

Instead, take a moment to cool down when someone’s ungratefulness gets on your nerves. Responding calmly can help keep the peace and may even prevent these ungrateful moments from happening so often.

Use Positive Reinforcement When Appropriate

Everyone likes a little praise when they do something right, right? So when someone actually is grateful, make sure you acknowledge it.

For instance, when a friend who usually neglects to express gratitude thanks you for a favor, you make a point to express how much you appreciate their thanks, reinforcing the positive behavior.

Limit the Time Spent Together

Hanging out less with someone who’s rarely grateful can be a breath of fresh air. This doesn’t mean you’re cutting them off completely — you’re just shaving down the time that could be spent feeling unappreciated.

Think of it as a form of self-care; you’re protecting your vibe by not overdoing it on the togetherness.

Example: You decide to meet your always-rushing friend less often. When you do catch up, the time feels more special, and they’re more attentive.

Address Issues Directly and Privately

If someone’s ungrateful behavior is bothering you, have a private chat with them. This isn’t about making a scene; it’s like whispering to someone that their zipper is down — it’s considerate and less embarrassing for both of you.

Tackling the issue one-on-one shows respect and can lead to a more open, honest conversation.

"They will never know what they are doing unless you tell them so. They think that everything is okay or it is your obligation to help them, so speaking up will make them realize that it is not your obligation to help, but you choose to help them, and they should be grateful for that."

Michelle Devani | Relationship Expert | Founder, lovedevani

Be Consistent with Your Approach

If you fluctuate in how you handle situations or respond differently each time, it can send mixed messages. Being consistent in your actions and responses shows that you are reliable and serious about your expectations and boundaries. Consistency also helps build trust and respect, even in challenging relationships.

Seek External Advice or Counseling

Sometimes, getting another perspective on how to deal with ungrateful people can be a game-changer.

Whether it’s chatting with a wise buddy or seeing a professional, fresh advice might just hit the spot. It’s like asking for directions when you’re a bit lost — sometimes, you need help to find the way.

Prepare Yourself Emotionally Before Interactions

Before you jump into the lion’s den, take a second to armor up emotionally. It’s like mentally rehearsing for a big game. When you’re ready for whatever comes your way, you won’t be as easily knocked off your feet.

  • A bit of deep breathing can steady your nerves.
  • Remembering past successes can give you a boost.
  • Setting realistic expectations keeps you from being disheartened.

Remain Confident and Self-Assured

Staying confident when others don’t acknowledge your good deeds is like holding your head high when the wind tries to mess up your hair. It shows that your self-worth doesn’t hinge on their gratitude.

Confidence is your shield; it keeps you feeling good about yourself no matter what.

Establish Mutual Respect

To have a smooth relationship with someone who often skips the ‘thank you’, it helps to lay a foundation of mutual respect. It’s about treating each other well, even if you’re not always on the same page.

For instance, you consistently thank your co-worker for their help, and over time, they start to do the same. Giving respect gets respect.

Reflect on Past Interactions for Insights

Looking back at your past talks with the ungrateful ones can teach you a lot. It’s not about holding grudges; it’s more like reviewing the plays after a game.

What worked? What didn’t? This reflection can guide your next moves, so you’re playing smarter, not harder.

Recognize Their Achievements and Efforts

Even if someone’s not great at showing gratitude, pointing out when they do things right can flip the script. It’s like clapping for a kid who finally ties their shoelaces — that praise feels great, and they’ll want to do it again.

When you acknowledge someone’s efforts, it shows you notice and care, which might just encourage them to do the same for you.

Use Humor to Diffuse Tension

Using humor can be a fantastic way to lighten the mood and diffuse tension when dealing with ungrateful people. A well-timed joke or a humorous remark can break the ice and reduce the seriousness of the situation, making it easier for everyone to get along.

However, it’s important to ensure the humor is appropriate and not at the expense of someone else. Humor should be used as a tool to create a positive atmosphere and not to belittle or mock others.

Example: Your sister forgets to say thanks for the ride, and you playfully say, “That’ll be one million dollars, please.” She laughs and remembers to thank you after all.

Avoid Escalating the Situation

It’s tempting to meet ungratefulness with a sharp word or two, but raising the temperature usually just makes things boil over.

Staying cool is like not turning up the heat under a simmering pot — it’ll keep things from spilling all over the stove. If you manage to keep things low-key, everyone’s less frazzled in the end.

A few things to consider:

  • Breathe and count to ten before responding to negativity.
  • Choose calm words that keep things from getting too hot.
  • Remember, the goal is to resolve the problem, not win an argument.

Reevaluate the Relationship If Necessary

Sometimes, no matter how much effort you put in, it’s like pouring water into a leaky bucket — it’s just not holding anything good. That’s when you need to sit down and think hard: is this relationship worth it?

It’s okay to decide that your energy is better spent elsewhere, on people who fill you up instead of draining you.

Stay Focused on Your Own Goals

No matter how people act, you’ve got your own things to achieve. Remember, someone not saying thanks shouldn’t stall your plans or dreams. Keep your eyes on the prize, and don’t let their lack of gratitude slow you down.

Model the Behavior You Want to See

If you’re hoping for a more thankful atmosphere, make sure you’re leading the charge. Being the example is like setting the trend — others might just follow suit. It’s not about showing off; it’s simply showing how it’s done.

For instance, every time someone does even a small thing for you, you make it a point to say thanks. Soon, you start to notice others doing the same!

Don’t Expect Gratitude in Return

Helping out or being kind with the sole hope of getting thanked can leave you disappointed.

Give for the sake of giving, not to get a thank you back. Besides, acts of kindness are about what you put out there, not what you get back.

"Stop expecting gratitude from them. If you are working with this person and it is your job to turn in projects or perform a task, then realize it is your duty, and your boss is not obligated to be kind or grateful, no matter how nice that would be. Just do your job, and stop expecting things to be different."

Lynell Ross | Psychology-Trained Certified Health and Wellness Coach | Behavior Change Specialist | Resource Director, Test Prep Insight

Create a Support Network

When you’re dealing with an ungrateful bunch, it’s a huge help to have friends or family who’ve got your back. They’re like your personal cheer squad, ready to pick you up when you’re down.

Just knowing there are people who appreciate you can make those thankless moments sting a lot less; Like, after a tough day at work with a boss who doesn’t appreciate you, you call your best friend. They listen, make you laugh, and remind you of your worth.

Keep Yourself Physically Active and Healthy

Regular exercise releases endorphins, which improve mood and reduce stress.

Staying healthy ensures that you have the energy and stamina required to face challenging situations with a clearer mind. It’s not just about being physically fit; it’s about cultivating a state of well-being that supports mental and emotional health as well.

Emphasize Teamwork and Community

Focusing on teamwork can help lift everyone up, even those who tend to take without giving thanks. It’s all about pulling together, like a bunch of ants moving a crumb.

When everyone’s working towards the same goal, gratitude often comes naturally as a part of the team spirit.

Celebrate Your Own Achievements

Don’t wait for others to throw confetti every time you do something awesome. Give yourself a high-five for your own successes, big or small.

It’s like being your own biggest fan — when you’re proud of what you do, you don’t need anyone else’s applause to feel great.

Understand Cultural Differences in Showing Gratitude

Not everyone says ‘thank you’ the same way, and that’s okay. Around the world, gratitude comes out in different actions and words, like nods or handshakes.

Realizing that manners vary widely can help you see past the ‘no thank yous’ and appreciate the diverse ways people express appreciation.

Learn to Detach from Negative Outcomes

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you won’t get the reaction you hoped for. Learning to detach means not letting that reality check sink your ship.

It’s about doing your bit and then stepping back, like planting a seed and not fussing over it every second until it sprouts.

Example: You give up your seat for someone on the bus, and they just plop down without a word. You shrug, plug in your earphones, and enjoy the ride anyway, knowing you did well.

Stay Away from Toxicity

Staying away from toxic people is important for keeping your mind healthy. Toxic behavior can make you feel drained and unhappy. It’s smart to notice when someone’s behavior is hurting you and to step back from them.

Make sure to spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself instead. Protecting yourself from negativity helps you stay happy and healthy.

Remember Your Value and Worth

It’s important to remember your own value, especially around people who don’t appreciate you. Know that you’re valuable no matter what others say.

Believing in your own worth helps you not rely on others to feel good about yourself. Remember the good things you do and know that you deserve respect.

"... Realize that you can become a person who doesn't need anything from others to fill themselves up. You can let people be who they are, and you can transform yourself into a person who is so grateful and so happy with themselves and with their life that they don't need other people to fulfill them."

Paula Sullivan| Owner, Finally Worry Free | Author, "Simply Being Happy: 93 Ways to Replace Worry with Peace and Create a Joyful Life"

Engage in Self-Care Activities

Taking care of yourself is crucial, especially if you deal with negative people often. Self-care helps protect your happiness and health, keeping you strong against negativity.

Self-care can include anything that makes you feel refreshed and happy, like hobbies, exercise, or just relaxing.

Seek Inner Peace Through Meditation or Prayer

These practices help you stay calm and balanced, no matter what’s going on around you. They allow you to quiet your mind and feel better when things get tough. Making time for meditation, prayer, or other quiet activities helps you keep your peace of mind.

Excerpts From the Experts

“Act with kindness, but do not expect gratitude.” — Confucius

We can think of these three constructive thoughts when faced with someone that appears ungrateful. Our ‘AHA ‘moment:

  • Allow compassion– Remember, if you silently bless each heart with unconditional compassion, you bless your own heart! Everything within you needs patience, care, and attention. Create a life of grace for yourself and others.
  • Heal your pain– Realize the deep pain and fear exhibited by an ungrateful person, and cease judgment. Ask yourself, “How do I want to feel instead? What would that look like?”
  • Appreciate your ‘homeland security system’– Your subconscious mind is poised to provide an ‘AHA’ trigger to protect you from being a prisoner of your past harm and pain. Heed and heal.

Stop and think. Adopt the art of SCARS:

  • Surrender. Consciously acknowledge and embrace the brokenness. Your ‘AHA’ occurred for you to notice a potential threat to your own health and well-being.
  • Courageously assess the wounds and choose to heal. Think about the threat, the AHA. Why is it warning me? What can I do instead to be released from my own prison?
  • Allow connections with others for expertise, confidence, and learning. Request and accept support graciously. Learn to sew seeds of compassion for your heart and theirs.
  • Reframe healed scars as positive opportunities. Your strengths are kindness, and your healed scars represent your past judgments of others. Be grateful for the lesson and seek new opportunities to give.
  • Share and celebrate transforming fear to light. Enjoy the company of others, unfettered by your own wounds.

Make this your ‘AHA’ moment.”

Kathy J. Hagler, PhD, MA | PhD in Higher Educational Administration and Certified Business Administration | Founding Partner, K2OH Solutions | Author of Art of Scars (Spring 2021)

“I used to be the queen peacemaker. Having experienced some really challenging experiences as a child, I quickly learned to avoid conflict and keep the peace by doing everything in my power to steer clear of uncomfortable situations with other human beings.

I learned the hard way by exhausting myself and putting my needs aside to the extent of making myself sick. I learned that we couldn’t please everyone, nor can we fix anyone. We’re all here trying to navigate this beautiful and sometimes messy human experience as best as we can.

I once heard a quote that really helped me embody this. It said, “What other people think of you is none of your business.”

It’s so true. What other people think of you is always and only about their own inner struggles and past events. It’s not a reflection of you but rather a reflection of what they are feeling inside of themselves.

I like to show up, do my best, and give others grace, knowing that they, too, are doing theirs.”

Jennifer Jane Young | Intuitive Business & Leadership Advisor

“If we tend to knock ourselves out for people who do not reciprocate or even acknowledge what we have done for them, the first step is to communicate openly about it.”

Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW, CGP, CPAI | Certified Group Psychotherapist | Creative Arts Therapist | Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Lifestage, Inc.

“People are suspicious at first, but I would keep going because I want everyone to be as happy as possible. I build trust and relationships to the point that I can be heard. (No point trying until I am sure they are willing to hear me).

From that point, I can be bringing little subtle comments about the sunshine, nice walks, wishing good day, pointing out all sorts of nice things around to be grateful for.”

Sonka Braunová | Registered Nutritional Therapist | NLP Practitioner | TimeLine Therapy Practitioner

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell if someone is genuinely ungrateful or just having a bad day?

Look for patterns. If their lack of gratitude is consistent over time, they might be genuinely ungrateful. If it’s a one-off, they might just be having a rough day.

Can ungrateful people change?

Anyone can change, but they have to want to. You can try to influence them by setting a good example and communicating clearly, but ultimately, the change is up to them.

Are there any benefits to having an ungrateful person in your life?

Dealing with difficult people can strengthen your communication skills and help you learn to set boundaries. It can also teach you the importance of gratitude by being an example of how not to act.

Is it okay to cut ties with an ungrateful person?

If the relationship is more harmful than good, it’s okay to walk away. Your well-being is important, and you should prioritize relationships that are mutually respectful and beneficial.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, remember that you’re in charge of your own happiness. Ungrateful people will come and go, but your peace of mind is what truly matters.

It’s not always easy, but with practice and patience, you can learn to rise above the negativity and focus on the good.

So, keep your head up, stay positive, and don’t let anyone dull your sparkle. You’ve got this! And who knows? Maybe your kindness and gratitude will rub off on those ungrateful ones, and they’ll start seeing the world in a brighter light, too.

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Jessa Claire is a registered healthcare provider. Music lover. Daydreamer. Thalassophile. Foodie. A hardworking Capricorn. Most days, an incurable empath. An old soul. Down-to-earth. Vibrant.

When she's not writing, she can be seen relaxing with headphones on or engrossed in her favorite fan fiction book.