People with difficult personalities often display these 9 traits (without realizing it)

Interacting with difficult people can be, well, difficult. Unbeknownst to them, they often exhibit certain traits that make them hard to deal with.

These traits aren’t necessarily intentional. In fact, most of the time, these individuals are completely unaware of their challenging behavior.

Understanding these traits can help us navigate our relationships and interactions with such individuals more effectively.

In this article, I’ll guide you through nine common traits often displayed by people with difficult personalities – without them even realizing it.

1) Lack of empathy

It’s interesting to note that many people with difficult personalities exhibit a lack of empathy.

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is a key component in fostering healthy relationships. Unfortunately, those with challenging personalities often struggle in this department.

They might not be inherently bad or antisocial; they simply struggle to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. This lack of understanding can often lead to miscommunications and conflicts.

While it might seem like they’re intentionally being difficult or unsympathetic, the truth is they might not even realize their deficiency in this area.

Understanding this trait can help us approach these individuals with a bit more patience and understanding.

2) They are often defensive

In my own experiences, I’ve noticed that people with difficult personalities tend to become defensive quite easily.

I recall an interaction with a former coworker. We were working on a project together and I had suggested a minor change in our approach. Instead of considering my suggestion, he instantly got defensive, interpreting it as a direct attack on his abilities.

His defensiveness made it challenging to communicate effectively and collaborate on the project. What could have been a simple discussion became an unnecessary conflict.

What’s important to note here is that his defensiveness was not something he consciously chose. He wasn’t trying to be difficult, it was just a natural reaction for him – one he probably wasn’t even aware of. Recognizing this trait in others can help us communicate more effectively, using approaches that are less likely to trigger defensiveness.

3) They love control

People with difficult personalities often have a strong desire for control. They feel the need to dictate how things should go, and they’re uncomfortable when they’re not leading.

Psychologically, this is linked to a deep-seated fear of losing control, often resulting from past experiences where they felt helpless or powerless. To prevent experiencing these feelings again, they attempt to control as many aspects of their lives as possible.

While this can make them challenging to interact with, understanding their need for control can help us approach situations with them more tactfully, and potentially diffuse conflicts before they arise.

4) Difficulty with change

Another common trait among individuals with difficult personalities is their resistance to change. They prefer routine and predictability, and any disruption to their established patterns can cause them distress.

Whether it’s a change in plans, a surprise event, or even just a suggestion to try something new, they may react negatively or even defensively. This can make them seem rigid or stubborn.

They might not realize how much they resist change, but recognizing this trait can help us understand where their reactions are coming from and allow us to manage interactions with patience and understanding.

5) They often have a negative outlook

Having a conversation with people who have difficult personalities may sometimes feel like navigating through a sea of negativity. They often present a pessimistic view of the world, focusing more on problems than solutions.

This negative outlook can be draining for those around them and can create a challenging environment. Their gloomy perspective isn’t usually intentional; they may not even realize how their negativity impacts others.

Understanding this trait can help us approach these individuals with empathy, keeping in mind that their negative outlook is part of their personality, not necessarily a reflection of their feelings towards others.

6) They struggle to express emotions

Expressing emotions in a healthy way is a challenge for many people with difficult personalities. They often bottle up their feelings until they explode in uncontrolled outbursts, or they might suppress their emotions to the point of seeming cold and distant.

This struggle doesn’t make them bad people. In fact, it’s quite heartbreaking. They often long for connections and relationships like anyone else, but their difficulty in expressing emotions can push people away.

They may not realize the impact of their emotional struggles on their relationships. By understanding this trait, we can approach them with compassion and patience, encouraging open and honest communication.

7) They have a hard time accepting criticism

Accepting criticism is hard for everyone, but especially so for people with difficult personalities. Even the slightest critique can be perceived as a personal attack.

I remember a time when I suggested to a close friend that we should try to be more punctual for our meet-ups. Instead of taking it as friendly advice, she took it as a personal criticism and our relationship strained for a while.

She wasn’t trying to be difficult; it was just her natural response. And she probably didn’t realize how her reaction affected our friendship. Recognizing this trait can help us frame our feedback in a more sensitive and constructive way.

8) They tend to be perfectionists

Perfectionism is another common trait among people with difficult personalities. Their high standards and meticulous attention to detail can often make them hard to please.

In their pursuit of perfection, they may inadvertently create stress and tension for those around them. They might not realize how their expectations can lead to pressure and dissatisfaction for others.

By understanding this trait, we can approach interactions with a bit more patience, and help them see the value in progress over perfection.

9) They often struggle with insecurity

At the heart of many difficult personalities is a deep-seated feeling of insecurity. This insecurity can manifest in a myriad of ways – defensiveness, control issues, negativity, and an aversion to criticism.

They might not realize that their challenging behaviors are often defense mechanisms against this inner insecurity. Understanding this can help us approach them with compassion and empathy rather than frustration.

Final thoughts: It’s about understanding

When we encounter people with difficult personalities, it’s easy to react with frustration or impatience. But if we dig a little deeper, we often find that these traits stem from deeply ingrained habits or past experiences.

It’s not about labelling them as difficult or problematic. Rather, it’s about understanding the root causes of their behaviors and approaching them with empathy and compassion.

Psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “When I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” The same applies to our interactions with others. Only when we understand and accept them can we help bring about positive change.

Remember, they often don’t realize how their behaviors affect others. Your understanding could be the catalyst for them to recognize and work on these traits.

Ultimately, it’s about fostering healthier interactions and relationships – for them, for you, and for everyone involved.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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