Spotting a Difficult Personality: 9 Key Phrases to Watch For

Is someone you know difficult? These phrases might be the clue.


Magazine Desk July 08, 2024
Ever wonder if someone is just being honest or just plain difficult?

There's a significant difference between having a resilient, head-strong personality and one that's difficult.

The fine line between these two is often reflected in the language we use. Certain phrases, when frequently used, can unknowingly reveal someone's true nature.

Luckily, psychology offers deep insights into these telltale expressions. 

If you notice these  phrases being used frequently, it could indicate you're dealing with a difficult personality.

  1. “I’m just being honest”

Navigating social interactions can be tricky, and one phrase that often surfaces is ‘I’m just being honest.’ While honesty is valuable, there's a fine line between being truthful and being unnecessarily harsh. This type of ‘honesty’ can sometimes mask a lack of tact and empathy, as people might use it as an excuse to be overly critical. It's important to recognize the difference between constructive criticism and destructive honesty. The latter often reveals a difficult personality that hides behind the guise of honesty to avoid being considerate and kind.

  1. “You just don’t get it”

You might have encountered many who use ‘You just don’t get it’ to shut down conversations. A former colleague often said this during disagreements, making me initially think I was missing something. However, it soon became clear that this phrase was a tactic to dismiss differing opinions and avoid uncomfortable discussions. It effectively ends the dialogue, leaving others feeling unheard and invalidated, and often signals a personality that struggles with open and balanced communication.

  1. “I don’t care”

This can be interpreted in two ways: a sign of healthy detachment or a signal of indifference to others' feelings. When used excessively, it may indicate a personality trait known as alexithymia, which is the inability to identify and describe emotions. For some, saying ‘I don’t care’ is a way to avoid dealing with emotional situations. If someone frequently uses this phrase, they might be struggling with deeper emotional issues and may exhibit challenging personality traits.

  1. “Whatever”

This might seem harmless or even humorous, but when used dismissively and often, it can indicate a difficult personality. This phrase is a way to avoid meaningful discussions and evade conflict resolution. Instead of addressing issues, they dismiss them, creating barriers to effective communication. Frequent use of ‘whatever’ can be a sign of someone who struggles with engaging in constructive conflict resolution.

  1. “It’s all your fault”

This phrase is often used by individuals who want to shift blame away from themselves to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. It’s easier for them to point fingers rather than acknowledge their own mistakes. Such blame-shifting behaviour can harm relationships and create a toxic environment. If you encounter someone who often resorts to this phrase, it might indicate a personality that lacks empathy and understanding.

  1. “I don’t need anyone”

Although it might sound like a declaration of independence, it often masks deeper issues. It’s a defence mechanism to protect against potential hurt or rejection. Over time, this attitude can strain relationships and lead to isolation. When someone frequently says ‘I don’t need anyone,’ it might indicate a challenging personality dealing with underlying emotional issues.

  1. “I’m always right”

Major red flag! These individuals struggle to accept that they might be wrong and have a hard time engaging in open dialogue. Their belief in their infallibility stifles conversation and personal growth. If you encounter someone who regularly insists they are always right, it could signal a personality that is difficult in terms of compromise and mutual understanding.

  1. “You’re too sensitive”

Saying ‘You’re too sensitive’ is a way to dismiss someone’s feelings or experiences. It shifts blame onto the other person, avoiding responsibility for hurtful actions or words. It's important to acknowledge and respect others’ emotions rather than dismiss them. Frequent use of this phrase can indicate a personality that struggles with empathy and emotional understanding.

  1. "I always…" or "I never…"

Statements like this are often used to exaggerate one's self-perception, either positively or negatively. These absolutes can paint someone as either a perpetual victim or a constant hero, without acknowledging any nuance or flaws. The reality is, no one always or never does anything. If someone frequently uses these absolute terms, it indicates an inability to see themselves and the world in a balanced, realistic light.

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