Facebook

Difficult People May Not Be What You Think

Do you feel surrounded, or tortured by, difficult people? If you’re a designated easy-going person, like me, you may attract controlling and manipulative people who constantly put you down and try to dominate you. If you’re agreeable and accommodating, you may feel unappreciated, put upon, and hurt on occasion, or even regularly. How can we feel better about coping with the difficult people in our lives? In this sense of the word, difficult means hard to get along with.

Some kinds of hard-to-get-along with people gravitate toward empaths and people-pleasers like me, who will put up with them. But you can also have family members who groom you to act nice and do what they want you to do without objecting or fighting back. In this case you may feel smothered and raging inside but don’t show it. People with many different characteristics can be challenging to live with. Not only that, dominating people often call people with healthy boundaries difficult when they’re not difficult at all. So it’s all a matter of perspective and your style of dealing with others. Motive and intent also play a part in defining who are the “toxic” people and how you might cope with different personalities who may have good hearts but unpleasant characteristics.

Defining Humans As Difficult Is A Slippery Slope Of Negativity

Is it helpful or hurtful to designate someone as “difficult?” I think defining people in negative terms can be counter productive. Here’s why. We all have many characteristics and quirks. Nobody is exactly like anybody else, so we’re all a mixture of styles and qualities and beliefs and tolerance. When styles don’t mix between people, it doesn’t mean one person should be designated the difficult one. On the other hand, character flaws and personality disorders are pathologies that create hurtful and damaging people. We have to know the difference between perception and pathology so we don’t tar everyone with the same brush. So first, what is a difficult person? This is a more complicated question than you may think because relationships are nuanced, not simple.

Can You Test For Being A Difficult Person

There is a difficult person test that has gone viral lately to evaluate how hard you are to get along with. Basically it describes difficult people as falling into seven categories of antagonism which we show below. These categories are basically personality characteristics, which we write about all the time, not exactly in terms of conflict and hostility, but rather in terms of pathology. Narcissists and Sociopaths are two examples of personality disorders that produce “toxic” and harmful people.

While designed by researchers to reveal hostility and conflict, The Difficult Person test is not scientific because you can’t quantify difficulty generically. For one thing relationships involve two or more people relating to each other. And, as I mentioned before, characteristics on the list below don’t take motivation and intent into consideration. So while people with some of the characteristics below may be annoying, grating, irritating, they may not necessarily be malignant and hurtful. You should cope with annoying people in a different way from those with a pathology. Let’s see if we can clarify.

Who Are Difficult People

I have lived with many people who fit into the difficult people definition below which is all about antagonism. Some loved ones were not just hard to get along with, but also threatened my self-esteem, and even my sanity at times. When I became attached to “toxic” people in my past, I didn’t know that personality disorders in a loved one can destroy your life. We didn’t have the words for it only a decade or so ago. There are 9 traits that define narcissism. Do you have a narcissistic loved one? You know that you can never be yourself, and certainly never be happy. You are manipulated, controlled, and gaslighted. If people lie to you, you never know what’s really happening.

Other people, however, can be challenging to live with without having personality disorders. People who are physically or mentally ill and have special needs can be emotionally hard on caregivers. It’s not easy being a caregiver to someone who’s grumpy, demanding, and in pain. Those who cope with depression or anxiety and can’t accomplish their goals can be challenging for loved ones who are well organized, cheerful, and optimistic. But I wouldn’t call a depressive a difficult person. I wouldn’t call a person with memory issues, a traumatic brain injury, or crippling phobias a difficult person. What are the 7 types of Mental Illness. People who have ADHD or Asperger’s, for example, have a neurological developmental disorder which may make them seem callous or aggressive. Lacking effective language skills or impulse control, however, doesn’t mean someone is antagonistic or hostile. See what I mean? We don’t want to call people with disabilities difficult, even though they can be emotionally challenging for us to deal with.

Why The Test Can Confuse The Meaning of Difficult

Today I took The Difficult Person test to see how I score as difficult to get along with. Turns out, I am more than 70% easy-going. According to the results of my test, I’m not dominated by any of these characteristics: callousness, grandiosity, aggression, suspiciousness, manipulation, domination, or risk-taking. So by this standard, I am not difficult at all. My family, however, might not agree with this assessment. Your loved ones may define you as difficult if you have expectations and standards they don’t want to meet.

Here are a few of my expectations for family members: Be compassionate and kind. Help with the chores. Tell the truth and don’t lie. Don’t ignore unhealthy behaviorsAllow me to have peace and serenityIf someone is hurting you or me, don’t pretend it isn’t happeningDon’t tell me what to do. Standing up for myself has made me seem difficult, even when I wasn’t the antagonist. Or if you simply speak the truth, not to fight, but to reveal reality. I’m a truth teller; I can’t help it. But don’t call me difficult. I’m never wrong.

Read More Articles by Leslie Glass


Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Leslie Glass

Leslie Glass became a recovery advocate and co-founder of Reach Out Recovery in 2011, encouraged by her daughter Lindsey who had struggled with substances as a teen and young adult. Learning how to manage the family disease of addiction with no roadmap to follow inspired the mother and daughter to create Reach Out Recovery's website to help others experiencing the same life-threatening problems. Together they produced the the 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World of Recovery, and the teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, distributed by American Public Television. In her career, Leslie has worked in advertising, publishing, and magazines as a writer of both fiction and non fiction. She is the author of 9 bestselling crime novels, featuring NYPD Dt.Sgt. April Woo. Leslie has has served as a Public Member of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education and as a Trustee of the New York City Police Foundation. For from 1990 to 2017, Leslie was the Trustee of the Leslie Glass Foundation. Leslie is a proud member of Rotary International.

Sign Up for Our Weekly Top 5 Newsletter!

You Get Our Exclusive Weekly Top 5 Newsletters in your mailbox and 2 FREE Books!