How to determine if the Person is being Difficult Wm. Roger Fatum, Psy.D. LPC, , AAS NCC Charles MIms Explore the Challenge

Difficult people can be around some of us, or all of us, depending on the circumstances and their own perspectives. Any one’s behaviors can slip into offensive actions, being rude, or even being discourteous. In this case, we are dealing with the person who is continuously oppositional and defiant in most of their dealings with others. It must be noted when dealing with highly difficult people, remember you are not dealing with people of logic, but with people of emotion, people bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity. This type of individual is around all of us. People, who take all the positive energy out of us to fuel their relentless hunger for negativity, leaving us feeling drained, exhausted, and unhappy and whatever you call them i.e. energy suckers, or just unhappy negative people, they can wreak havoc on your life if you do not have effective strategies to deal with them. The negative nature of people is not always readily apparent when you first meet them.

After some time, you begin to realize something is wrong. Do not ignore those feelings tune in to them. Pay close attention to your instincts and your physical reactions after your encounters. If you find yourself experiencing muscle tension, loss of energy, headaches, irritability, sadness, mental confusion, or negativity, you likely have a personality-disordered person in your midst. The first thing that you need to do is to watch for signs. These indicators would help you find out if the person is just making things harder for you or they are just not willing to cooperate.

There are several factors, which could help you realize that you are indeed dealing or working with a person with a rather challenging personality.

Signs that a Person is Being Difficult Personality disordered people tend to be:

• Intrusive, showing poor boundaries;
• Overly dramatic, making mountains out of molehills;
• Overly critical, finding fault with just about everyone and everything in their lives;
• Chronic complainers rarely find anything to their liking or satisfaction.
• Argumentative, having trouble agreeing with others, even on things that seem insignificant or inconsequential;
• Relentlessly demanding and persistent, being unable to take no for an answer;
• Constantly negative, always seeing the glass half empty; end
• Unable to accept responsibility, blaming everyone, but themselves for their actions and problems.

Unwillingness to Listen:

A person, who is not willing to listen, means that he or she is not having the right attitude about working with others. There are people who find satisfaction in just hearing themselves speak and automatically shut people out as soon as the other starts to speak or offer an opinion. This is the true sign of a difficult person. His or her narcissistic attitude can give you an immediate impression that they are not someone that you can deal with easily.

Working on their own:

Difficult people usually keep to themselves or deal only with those who agree with them. Remember that a genuine constructive dialogue is a partnership, and that all parties involved need to work together in harmony. The difficult person keeps their opinions, perspectives, ideas and thoughts a secret and is not willing to share feelings or generate positive outcomes with you as a means to coming to an equitable resolution.

Trivial Issues Affect Your Progress – A difficult person has the tendency to turn a small issue into a full-blown argument. This could affect an individual’s progress and their ability to accomplish getting their opinions and concepts across in a timely manner. The difficult person will complain about varying things that have nothing to do with the conversation such as nobody understands me; you pick on me every time I open my mouth, you never want to see my point of view or you need to understand you are not right about everything.

Always on Edge:

The difficult person’s perception of a situation is determined by their thoughts and that in turn creates how they feel about a situation. A difficult individual’s thoughts and feelings work hand in hand each one influences the other. The difficult person often mistake feelings and thoughts as being the same but they are separate entities. Thoughts created by oppositional the individuals often determine how they feel and the opposite of this is true. What keeps the difficult person on edge most of the time is their feelings are more powerful than their thoughts because feelings usually are what fuel our actions. Feelings bring the difficult persons thoughts to life. When confronted with almost anything oppositional individual views the situation as being unfair and with a skeptical mind. They cannot be honest with themselves. The difficult person cannot put their emotions aside and have difficultly seeing something from an independent perspective. Since the difficult person is always on edge, they have a difficult time seeing a situation accurately.

Personality Characteristics:

The difficult person’s personality is often characterized by a general discontentedness and the impulse to be overly critical and demanding, even contemptuous of imperfection, in themselves and others. This focus on negative aspects and the accompanying bursts of hostility and impatience result in guilt, remorse and anxiety. Oppositional personalities are motivated by external sources instead of by inner motivation, such as material reward and appreciation from others. Difficult people tend to experience a constant sense of opposition, wariness, and apprehension–they are always ready for battle. Imagine how this constant and very exhausting existence would deplete reserves of contentment and happiness and disrupt personal equilibrium. The extremely difficult individual can be described as impatient, time-conscious, concerned about their status, highly competitive, ambitious, business-like, aggressive, having difficulty relaxing; and are many times disliked by others. The difficult person is motivated by their intrinsic insecurity and an insufficient level of self-esteem, which might even be considered the root cause of the phenomenon.

Since these elements in the difficult person are believed to be covert, they are therefore, less observable and tend to go unnoticed. Being able to determine whether you are actually dealing with difficult people is an important skill that a person should possess personally, emotionally and professionally. After dealing with such a difficult person without the right coping mechanisms and intervention skills, an individual will definitely feel depression and anxiety.

Observe the signs you need to consider in order to determine if the people that you are dealing with are being difficult or not. The article will also highlight treatment for anxiety to address this concern.


Readers would be able to understand the importance of determining whether some people are being difficult. It provides a detailed list of signs or indicators to help people better prepare and of course accept differences in personalities.