10 Examples of difficult people

Deailing with people is an essential component of life. While many people will make your life easier, there are some difficult people who can make your life a living hell; if you allow them to. And that is the key to dealing with difficult people; it is up to you to manage the relationship to ensure that these difficult people do not cause you any unnecessary problems. There are many different examples of difficult people so it does take a varied skillset to both recognise and deal with each type.

You can improve your communication and relationship skills with my FREE Checklist - Do's and Don'ts of Dealing with Difficult People.

When dealing with difficult people, it is important to note the difference between the person and the behaviour. They may be in particularly bad mood when you encounter them or, they may have had something really bad happen them e.g. a bereavement. While that does not give them the right to make your life unnecessarily difficult; if you always choose to focus on the behaviour rather than the person, you will find that you can handle each situation with a greater sense of confidence and without being hostile or difficult yourself. After all, you don't want to make their life more difficult than necessary either.

10 Examples of difficult people

As already stated, there are many different examples of difficult people; each of which impacts your life in a different way. The following list covers the 10 most common examples of difficult people.

​Deal with difficult people

Learn ​effective strategies for dealig with all 10 examples of difficult people, with the 'Deal With Difficult People Handbook'.


The Sniper

This is the person who enjoys throwing cheap shots at you. He may roll his eyes at you, say rude things about you, and try to make you look foolish.

The truth which lies behind the behaviour of the sniper is that they lack self-confidence. They have the foolish notiion that if they make you look bad, this will help them look better by comparison. Therefore, they will take a cheap shot at any opportunity.

Of course, nobody enjoys constant put downs. Even if you think that the sniper doesn't get to you, they do. I can assure you of this as I had a sniper in my life, whom I had thought a friend, for almost 30 years. When I removed him from my life, my self-esteem began to rise dramatically becasue I no longer had someone chipping away at it on an almost daily basis.

It is this constant eating away at your self-esteem and confidence which makes the sniper one of the most dangerous examples of difficult people.

You can read about  my sniper in my article - 2 Fake friends whom you need to kick into touch.


The Whiner / Complainer

This the person who doesn’t take responsibility for things, as it’s easier to complain and blame everyone else.

You may be familiar with the old saying 'He who smelt it; dealt it'; whereby the person who farted tries to distract from themeselves by being the first person to complain. This sums the complainer up to a tee. They try and distract from their own mistakes and inadequacies by pointing out even the tiniest faults or mistakes of others.

The complainer will undoubtedly act like they are providing some sort of service by setting the standards at the highest level. They are often perfectionists who berate themselves (internally) as much as they complain about everybody else. Although it should be noted that they rarely complain to the person they are complaing about.

What makes the complainer one of the most dangerous examples of difficult people is the fact they will unsettle any group, team or organisation that they join because there cannot be harmony when people feel like they are going to be villified every time they make even the tiniest mistake.

I wrote about a complainer in one of my previous articles - How to deal with a jerk.


The Volcano

Like a volcano, these people can explode. They can be unpredictable, erupting over the smallest of things when you least expect it. They may shout, throw things, or do physical harm to others.

A Volcano is someone who can be very extreme. They are often a perfectionist at heart and can't help but feel that everything must be done 100% correct. If it is not they can erupt into a rage and start berating everybody. Unlike the complainer, the volcano has little issue with complaining to the person's face.

The people who are a physical threat to others are few and far between. Most people who fit the volcano description don't go that far. However, verbal abuse is possible and their behaviour can be very frightening.

I have to say that in my younger days I did behave like a volcano. I understand now that it was passive aggressive behaviour where I would hold everything in and pretend it was all good; insted of making a polite complaint when somebody treated me in an unacceptable manner. Eventually, I wouldn't be able to hold it in any longer and I would snap over the smallest things; often with the wrong person.

Not all volcanoes are passive aggressive, some are just aggressive but helping them to open up and be more communcative can help them get things off their chest before they need to erupt.

The following article will give you some great advice for dealing with someone who is angry - 6 Strategies to respond to someone who is angry.


The Bulldozer

These people push their way through life. They plow over people, at the expense of others. They appear very pushy, aggressive, and intimidating. They don't like weak-appearing people.

Well, in a sense, the bulldozer loves weak-appearing people becasue they love to feed on them. As soon as they identify someone who is weak-willed, they will lick their lips and see the opportunity to push them around. However, as soon as the weak-appearing person shows some strength, the bulldozer starts to seek out new prey.

In a previous job, I ended up with a bulldozer for a manager. At this point, I was trying to manage my temper and had gone too far to the passive side i.e. I would avoid any confrontation even where I shoudl stand up for myself.

This woman ended up dumping her work, and that of her colleagues on me; to the detriment of my own work. When my appraisal came,  I expected that all of that extra work would be recognised and rewarded. It wasn't. I was slaughtered for being a little behind on my own goals and there was no acknowledgement of the extra work. I lost out on a €2,000 bonus.

I can still remember the day that I decided I was standing my ground. She went into a long rant about something and when she finished I just looked her in the eyes and said 'I am not going to take any more from you. Is that clear?' She knew the game was up and she never bothered me again.

You can improve your communication and relationship skills with my FREE Checklist - Do's and Don'ts of Dealing with Difficult People.


The Know-it-all

These people have to be right, and cannot be wrong. They are not open to your viewpoint or that of others. They make you feel dumb and incapable when you are around them.

If you want to know if someone is a know-it-all here is what you do - next time you are disagreeing with them just say the following 'That's OK, we will just agree to disagree.'

A know-it-all will really struggle to accept you disagreeing with them. They will want to continue the argument until you agree with them. It is not about the validity of the point; it is about their perceived authority and superiority. They almost need you to be wrong more than they need to be right.

Arguing with these people will only get you annoyed and stressed. They have no interest in considering another point of view so why would you waste your time trying to give them one? You may think that they are ignorant because they won't listen and you may be right but if you keep trying to shove your point of view (correct or not) down their throat, you are being just as ignorant.

We all have times in life where we know that we are right and, we could prove it if needs be. This doesn't make you a know-it-all but it is still best to accept that the other person has the right to be wrong. We are all entitled to believe as we wish regardless of the validity of your belief. A know-it-all can never accept that.

You will never succeed until you learn to deal with difficult people

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The Pessimist

This is the person who is always negative, telling you why things won’t work or are not possible. He feels like he doesn’t have control over situations, and this mindset prevents him from taking positive action.

A pessimist is not one of the most dangerous examples of difficult people; unless you let them get to you. A pessimist doesn't usually mean any harm. They just feel helpless to control the circumstances of their life.

They don't mean any harm and; in many cases, they don't even mean to be pessimistic. It has just become and ingrained habit which they don't seem to be able to change. Their natural response to any situation is to automatically look for the negative in that situation. They could win the lottery and their first thought would be about the hassle of having to turn up to collect their winnings.

Don't try to help them become more optimistic unless they really want to. What will usually happen is that they will find a negative response to every positive suggestion that you make. They will have an excuse for everything and it can get infuriating if you take it to heart.


The Muzzle

These people go quiet, and refuse to open their mouths to talk to you. They may just mutter a word or two, but don’t elaborate. They may be angry or annoyed, and express it by choosing not to interact with you.

The muzzle is often somebody who suffers with passive behaviour. When something goes wrong, they dont' complain. They just bottle it up and try to move on. Even though they are upset on the inside, the pretend that everything is fine.

Of course, there is a major problem with pretending that everything is fine. The problem is that everything is not fine and silence isn't going to solve the problem. If the problem is a one off situation; silence may not be an issue. When the problem is a recurring issue, silence becomes a major problem because they get more upset every time the issue occurs. This then leads to a damaged relationship.

While the muzzle rarely erupts like the volcano, they do occasionally resort to one behaviour associated with passive aggressive behaviour - the silent treatment. When they are angry, they hope that yoiu will interpret their silence as anger and resolve the issue. Of course, given that they are usually silenct; it's not easy to notice the difference.

You can learn to recognise more of the symptoms of passive aggressive behaviour with the following article - 8 Examples of Passive Behaviour.


The Gossip

This person gossips about everything and everyone, to anyone who will listen.

We all need people whom we can confide in. A good friend, whom you can trust with your private thoughts and information, is like a therapist. The very act of sharing your burden is therapeutic as you realise that you are not alone. This is all good as long the person you share your burden with is not a gossip.

A gossip is one of the most devious examples of difficult people because while their behaviour is difficult; it can also be entertaining. It can be very easy to get lulled into a false sense of security as the gossip tells you you their tales. You feel a sense of trust that this person has chosen to share private information with you. In doing so, you are oblivious to the fact that the information they shared wasn't theirs to share.

Ultimately,. you need to realise that somebody who is willing to share other peoples secrets with you is willing to share your secrets with others. They are addicted to the attention that they get from sharing gossip and they simply can't help themselves.


The Staller

These people are identified by their inability to make decisions. They don't want to make another person upset, so they stall.

When you are confident, you can accept making mistakes. You understand that if you don't take action, you won't make a mistake but you also won't do anything right. Growth and improvement requires some risk to be taken.

The 80/20 principle teaches us that most of the things we do are not very important. They have very little impact on our end results. It therefore stands to reason that most of the decisions we make are not very important either. So, why would you waste time stalling over small decisions? You just need to take action and if things go wrong, take corrective action where necessary.

However, the staller doesn't understand this. They are usually a perfectionist who thinks that everthing has to be right and they desperately fear making a decision. They blow every decision out of proportion and they fail to see the negative impact they have on everybody who needs them to make a decision.

You can improve your communication and relationship skills with my FREE Checklist - Do's and Don'ts of Dealing with Difficult People.


The Yes Man

This is the person who says, “yes” and agrees to do things. He/she wants to please others, however does not follow through as he agrees to too many things, and may forget to do things due to over-commitments.

Probably the most frustrating of the examples of difficult people. The Yes man wants to be everybody's best friend. They are desperate to make an impression and have everyone think highly of them. They believe the best way to do this is to get involved in everything and be the most helpful person they can be.

The problem is that they are only being helpful if they do everything they agree to do. Leaving everything undone so that others have to scramble at the last minute to meet deadlines is not helpful. Promising help and then not showing up is not helpful.They just seem oblivious to the carnage they create with their unfulfilled promises.

In many cases, the Yes man thinks that those whom he let down should be grateful; as if the offer to help is what matters. They don't understand that people would prefer them to say No rather than make a committment they can't keep.

​Deal With Difficult People Handbook

​If you are having to deal with difficult people and you want to start avoiding conflict, the 'Deal with Difficult People Handbook' will help you get on the right track..


Relationships can be one of the greatest sources of joy in your life. They can bring you the level of love and support you need to be the best version of yourself. They can provide you with the confidence you need to pursue your goals and objectives. Of course this depends on you building the right relationships, with the right people. And sometimes, you are forced to deal with people whom you wouldn't necessarily choose to have in your life. These people can be very difficult to deal with. The list above provides 10 examples of difficult people you need to learn to deal with. When you learn to do so, you will experience less stress and conflict while improving your results. Dealing with difficult people is that important.