28 Types of Difficult People

Every day, we meet people who are easy to get along with. And then, some are just… difficult. They could be anyone — the person sitting next to us on the bus, someone within our circle of friends, or even a close family member. These individuals challenge us in ways we didn’t expect.

But why should we bother learning about them? Well, getting to know the different types of difficult people can actually help us. It can make our days less stressful and our relationships better.

So, are you curious to find out more about these people? Let’s dive into this together!

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional advice. Descriptions of difficult personality types are generalized and may not apply to everyone. Recognizing signs of complex mental health conditions, such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) requires a qualified professional. For personal concerns or mental health issues, please consult a professional.

The Narcissist

Narcissists often believe they are more important than others and expect everyone to agree. When interacting with a narcissist, you might notice they talk a lot about themselves. They crave admiration and have little regard for others’ feelings. This can make building a healthy relationship challenging, as the balance of give-and-take is skewed.

Interacting with a Narcissist could look like this:

  • They rarely listen to your problems but expect you to always listen to theirs.
  • They might take credit for your work or ideas.
  • Compliments are often one-way – from you to them.

When we talk about narcissism, it’s important to note that showing signs of narcissistic behavior now and then is pretty normal. Sometimes, people might act in ways that seem self-centered, like putting their own needs first or seeking a lot of praise.

Usually, these behaviors are just temporary responses to certain life challenges and don’t mean the person has a deep-seated issue.

I want to highlight that Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a serious mental health condition that requires a diagnosis from a trained professional. Just because someone exhibits some narcissistic traits doesn't mean they have NPD. It takes a detailed assessment by a mental health expert to make that call.

The Manipulator

Manipulators are skilled at influencing or controlling others to their advantage, often without them noticing. They use guilt, flattery, or even threats to achieve their goals. A typical interaction might involve them playing the victim to gain sympathy or creating situations where you feel indebted to them.

Here’s how you might experience interactions with a manipulator:

  • They make you feel guilty for not helping them, even when you have valid reasons.
  • They promise something in return for your help but rarely follow through.

The Control Freak

Control freaks need to oversee and dictate every aspect of a situation or relationship. They struggle with trust and often feel the need to manage everything to ensure it meets their standards. This can lead to tension, as their need for control can stifle creativity and independence in others.

Interactions with a control freak might involve:

  • Detailed instructions on how to perform simple tasks.
  • Criticism if things are not done their exact way.

Tip: Set boundaries around what is and isn’t acceptable regarding their control over situations or decisions involving you.

The Passive-Aggressive

Dealing with someone who is passive-aggressive can be like trying to navigate a maze in the dark. These individuals might not openly express their feelings, especially if they’re upset. Instead, they show their discontent through indirect actions or words.

For example, they might agree to help with a task but then take an unusually long time to do it, or they might make sarcastic remarks that seem friendly on the surface but are actually meant to hurt.

What interactions with a passive-aggressive person might feel like:

  • They say “fine” when clearly something is bothering them but refuse to talk about it.
  • They might forget important dates or commitments as a way to express their anger.

The Criticizer

Critics are quick to point out flaws and slow to give praise. They often focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s right, making interactions feel discouraging. For instance, if you share an idea at work, a criticizer might immediately list reasons why it won’t work without acknowledging the creativity or effort behind it.

To manage your relationship with a criticizer, try these steps:

1. Listen for the truthSometimes, criticism can be constructive. See if there’s something valuable you can take from their comments.
2. Don’t take it personallyRemember, their criticism says more about them than it does about you.
3. Set boundariesLet them know how their comments affect you and what kind of feedback is helpful.

The Negative Nancy

Someone who consistently sees the glass as half empty can drain energy from those around them. Negative Nancies tend to focus on the bad side of every situation, often voicing their pessimism and doubts. This outlook can make it hard to maintain a positive environment, especially in group settings where morale is important.

Dealing with them involves:

  • Acknowledging their feelings without getting drawn into their negativity.
  • Highlighting the positive aspects of a situation to gently shift their perspective.
  • Encouraging solutions instead of dwelling on problems.

The Complainer

Complainers have a knack for finding something wrong in almost every situation. They often focus on problems rather than solutions, which can make conversations feel draining. Interacting with a complainer might mean listening to a lot of grievances, whether it’s about the weather, work, or anything in between.

Here’s how you might deal with a Complainer:

  1. Acknowledge their feelings: Let them know you hear them without encouraging endless complaints.
  2. Steer towards solutions: Gently suggest looking for ways to address the issues they’re unhappy about.
  3. Limit exposure: If the negativity becomes too much, it’s okay to excuse yourself or change the subject.
Remember: while it's important to be empathetic, protecting your own energy is crucial.

The Victim

The Victim often feels that the world is against them and that they have little to no control over their circumstances. This mindset can lead to a lot of why me? questions and a refusal to take responsibility for their actions. Interactions with the Victim might involve a lot of reassurance but little acceptance of advice or solutions.

Engaging with a Victim could look like this:

  • They frequently talk about their misfortunes but dismiss suggestions for improvement.
  • They might blame others for their problems, avoiding personal accountability.

Tip: Encourage them to focus on what they can control rather than what they can’t. It’s also important to set boundaries to prevent their outlook from impacting your own well-being.

The Know-It-All

Know-It-Alls are convinced they have the best information or answers on every topic. They often dismiss others’ opinions or insights, making conversations challenging. Their need to be right can overshadow the value of collaborative discussion, leading to frustration in both personal and professional settings.

Interactions with a Know-It-All could look like this:

  • You share an idea at a meeting, and they immediately counter it with what they believe is a superior solution, often without fully listening to your point.
  • In casual conversations, they might dominate discussions, correcting facts or offering unsolicited advice, making it hard for others to contribute.

The Drama Queen/King

Drama Queens/Kings live for attention and excitement, often turning minor issues into major crises. They thrive on the emotional rollercoaster and can draw others into their chaos, making every situation feel like a scene from a movie.

Interacting with this person might look like this:

  • A simple disagreement escalates into a full-blown argument with heightened emotions.
  • They often recount stories in a way that puts them at the center of attention, sometimes exaggerating details for effect.

The Stubborn

Stubborn individuals hold onto their opinions or decisions tightly, often refusing to consider alternatives or compromise. This can make problem-solving or decision-making processes challenging, especially in group settings where flexibility and collaboration are key.

To engage effectively with someone stubborn, you might:

  • Show them respect and listen to their viewpoint thoroughly before presenting your own.
  • Use facts and logic to support your perspective, as emotional appeals may be less effective.
  • Choose the right moment to discuss changes or new ideas, ensuring they don’t feel cornered or rushed.

The Temperamental

Temperamental individuals can be unpredictable, with their moods shifting rapidly. This can make interactions feel like walking on eggshells, as you might be unsure what to expect from one moment to the next.

Interacting with someone temperamental could involve:

  • Being met with enthusiasm one day, only to face indifference or irritation the next, without a clear reason.
  • Needing to constantly adapt your approach based on their current mood, which can be exhausting.

The Over-Demanding

Over-demanding people have high expectations, not just for themselves but for everyone around them. They often request more than what is reasonable or possible, putting pressure on their relationships both in personal and professional settings.

A typical scenario would look like this:

  • They might ask you to complete tasks in an unrealistically short amount of time.
  • They could dismiss your other commitments, expecting their needs to always come first.

Tip: Politely but firmly communicate what you can and cannot do. Remember, it’s okay to say no when requests are beyond your capacity.

The Unreliable

Interacting with someone who is unreliable can often lead to frustration and disappointment. These individuals may not follow through on promises or commitments, leaving others to pick up the slack.

Interactions with this person might include:

  • They agree to take on a task or attend an event but then forget or bail at the last minute.
  • Plans made with them often change, sometimes without notice.

Tip: Have a backup plan in case they don’t follow through on commitments or promises.

The Pessimist

Pessimists have a tendency to see the worst in situations or believe that bad things are more likely to happen. Their outlook can dampen the mood of those around them and make it challenging to maintain a positive perspective.

Interacting with a Pessimist might involve:

  • Hearing them highlight potential problems or reasons why an idea won’t work.
  • Their focus on negative outcomes can make it difficult to motivate them or maintain optimism.

The Non-Listener

The Non-Listener is someone who seems to hear but doesn’t truly listen. They may be physically present in a conversation but mentally elsewhere, making it hard to have a meaningful exchange. This behavior can lead to misunderstandings and feelings of being undervalued.

Here’s what that might look like:

  • You share something important, but their response is unrelated, showing they haven’t really absorbed what you said.
  • They frequently ask for information you’ve already provided, indicating they weren’t paying attention.

The Dismissive

The Dismissive person quickly undervalues others’ thoughts and feelings, often without giving them proper consideration. This can make you feel like your opinions don’t matter, leading to a sense of frustration or low self-worth in the relationship.

A typical interaction might include:

  • You express an idea or concern, and they immediately shut it down without a real discussion.
  • They use phrases like “That won’t work” or “It’s not a big deal” frequently, minimizing your input.

To engage constructively with dismissive individuals, try these steps:

1. Expressing how their behavior impacts you, using specific examples.
2. Encouraging a two-way dialogue by asking for their views and sharing yours calmly and assertively.
3. Standing your ground and insist on mutual respect in conversations, ensuring your voice is heard and valued.

The Jealous Type

Jealous individuals often struggle with feelings of insecurity or fear of losing something or someone important to them. These feelings can lead to possessive or competitive behavior, which can strain relationships.

Interacting with them could look like this:

  • They might question your interactions with others, indicating a lack of trust.
  • You might notice them comparing themselves or their achievements to yours or others, leading to tension.

Tip: Reassure them of their value in your relationship. However, don’t forget to set clear boundaries about acceptable behavior, emphasizing trust and respect.

The Boundary Crosser

Boundary Crossers have a habit of stepping over lines that most people respect. This could be interrupting personal time, asking overly personal questions, or not respecting your space. These actions often lead to discomfort and tension in relationships.

A typical scenario might include:

  • They call or text at inappropriate times, expecting immediate attention.
  • Despite being told no, they push for more information or access than you’re comfortable giving.

The Gossip

Gossips thrive on sharing unverified or private information about others, often enjoying the reactions their stories provoke. While it might seem harmless or even entertaining at first, gossip can damage reputations and trust.

A typical interaction might include:

  • They eagerly share “secrets” about others, sometimes with a warning to keep it between you.
  • Conversations often revolve around other people’s business rather than shared interests or constructive topics.

Tip: Avoid sharing personal information that you wouldn’t want to be spread.

The Silent Treatment Giver

Silent Treatment Givers use silence as a weapon, often to express displeasure or exert control. This form of passive-aggressive behavior can be incredibly frustrating and hurtful, creating a barrier to effective communication and resolution.

Interacting with them could look like this:

  • After a disagreement, they refuse to speak to you, ignoring attempts to communicate.
  • Their silence is often accompanied by other passive-aggressive behaviors, like avoiding eye contact or being physically distant.

To approach this situation, try to express your willingness to talk when they’re ready. Remain calm and patient, avoiding the temptation to retaliate with similar behavior.

The Overly Sensitive

People who are overly sensitive can take comments or actions too personally, often feeling hurt by what others might consider minor or insignificant. This sensitivity can lead to misunderstandings and strained relationships, as others may feel like they need to walk on eggshells around them.

Interacting with this person might look like this:

  • A casual remark or joke is met with a strong emotional reaction or withdrawal.
  • They frequently need reassurance about your intentions or feelings towards them.

In these situations, clear and gentle communication is key. It’s important to validate their feelings, showing understanding and empathy. Also, don’t forget to choose your words carefully when discussing sensitive topics. Make sure to clarify your intentions.

The Attention Seeker

Attention seekers crave the spotlight and often go to great lengths to ensure they are at the center of others’ focus. This can manifest in exaggerated stories, dramatic reactions, or constantly shifting the conversation back to themselves.

A typical interaction with them might look like this:

  • They dominate conversations, interrupting others or making everything about them.
  • They may engage in risky or provocative behavior to ensure they remain the focus.

The Uncooperative

Uncooperative individuals resist collaboration, making it difficult to work together on tasks or projects. They may refuse to participate, disagree without offering alternatives, or simply not follow agreed-upon plans.

Here are some typical scenarios:

  • In team settings, they might consistently push back against others’ ideas without contributing their own.
  • They may ignore requests for assistance or participation, isolating themselves from group efforts.

Tip: Finding common ground and addressing any barriers to participation can help encourage more cooperative behavior.

The Intimidator

Intimidators use fear, threats, or aggressive behavior to exert control and get their way. This can create a tense environment, whether at work, at home, or in social settings, making it difficult for others to voice their opinions or feel safe.

Interactions with an Intimidator could look like this:

  • They may raise their voice or use dominating body language to assert their dominance in a discussion.
  • In disagreements, they might resort to personal attacks instead of focusing on the issue at hand.
Creating boundaries and refusing to be bullied are crucial steps in dealing with intimidators.

The Blamer

Blamers avoid taking responsibility for their actions or mistakes by shifting the fault to others. This deflection can hinder problem-solving efforts and lead to a culture of mistrust and defensiveness.

A typical interaction might include:

  • When a project goes wrong, they immediately point fingers at others, even if the failure was a collective issue or partly their responsibility.
  • They often use language that absolves them of blame, such as “You made me do it” or “It’s not my fault because…”

Tip: Promote accountability by pointing out facts and shared responsibilities gently but firmly.

The Avoider

Avoiders shy away from confrontation or difficult conversations, often ignoring problems in the hope that they’ll just go away. This avoidance can lead to unresolved issues and increased tension.

Here are some typical scenarios:

  • They might change the subject or leave the room when a challenging topic is brought up.
  • Important decisions or conversations are continually postponed, leading to frustration among others.

To encourage more open interactions with an avoider, try to create a safe and non-judgmental space for conversation. Address issues in a calm and straightforward manner, emphasizing the importance of tackling problems together.

The Micro-Manager

Micro-managers closely oversee and control the work of others, often to an excessive degree. This lack of trust can stifle creativity and independence, leading to frustration and decreased productivity.

Interacting with a Micro-Manager could involve:

  • Receiving overly detailed instructions on how to complete tasks.
  • Frequent check-ins or unsolicited feedback, even on minor aspects of your work.

Tip: Demonstrate your competence and reliability through consistent, high-quality work. Aside from that, try to initiate regular updates or meetings to proactively address their need for control.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a difficult person change their behavior?

Yes, a difficult person can change their behavior, but it often requires self-awareness and a desire to improve. Change can be slow, so patience and understanding are important. Encouraging positive interactions and gently pointing out the consequences of their behavior may motivate them to adapt.

How do I set boundaries with a difficult person?

Setting boundaries involves:

– Being clear and specific about what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t.
– Communicating your boundaries directly and respectfully.
– Sticking to your boundaries even if the person tries to test them.
– Being prepared to enforce consequences if your boundaries are not respected.

What should I do if I can’t avoid a difficult person?

If avoiding a difficult person isn’t possible, try to:

– Limit your interactions to necessary communication.
– Seek support from friends, family, or professionals to deal with the stress.
– Practice self-care to maintain your emotional and physical well-being.
– Focus on solutions rather than getting caught up in negative emotions.

Is it okay to completely cut off a difficult person from my life?

In some cases, if a difficult person significantly affects your well-being or if the relationship is toxic, it may be necessary to cut off contact. This decision should be considered carefully, especially if the person is a close friend or family member. Seeking advice from a trusted friend or a professional can provide clarity and support.

Final Thoughts

So, we’ve talked a lot about the different kinds of difficult people we might run into. The big takeaway? It really helps to know who we’re dealing with. This doesn’t just make our lives less stressful; it also helps us get along better with everyone around us.

And let’s not forget, every person has their story, including the difficult ones.

By trying to understand them and where they’re coming from, we’re not just dodging stress but also building bridges. Who knows? With a bit of patience and some new insights, we might just turn some of those difficult interactions into positive ones.

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Leah is a creative soul with a passion for telling stories that matter. As an editor and writer at UpJourney, she channels her natural curiosity and imagination into thought-provoking articles and inspiring content. She is also a registered nurse dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact.

In her free time, she indulges her artistic side as a hobbyist photographer, capturing the world's beauty one shot at a time. You can also find her in a poor-lit room playing her favorite video games or in a corner somewhere, reading and immersing herself in the rich worlds of fantasy and dark academia.

At home, Leah is surrounded by love and laughter, living peacefully with her partner and their three adorable shih tzus.