People who are very demanding usually display these 6 behaviors (without realizing it)

You probably already know if you’re a demanding person — you have high expectations of people, you easily notice flaws, and you find it hard to let go of control.

The problem? Others probably know as well — even if you don’t think they do.

Because demanding people — like me and you — often display certain behaviors that they’re not even aware of.

This isn’t to say that being demanding is necessarily bad — it helps you achieve the best quality and prevent problems from happening.

But let it go too far, and you’ll strain your relationships and sap all the joy out of your life. That’s why it’s good to know the behaviors you unknowingly do, and mitigate them if necessary.

Let’s dive into what they are.

1) They resist criticism

Nobody likes criticism. It’s not like you can expect yourself to jump for joy if your boss points out poor quality in your work, or your partner tells you they don’t really love one of your habits.

But demanding people have an especially hard time with criticism.

Why? Because we have such incredibly high standards for ourselves. And we do everything in our power to fulfill them — through stress, sweat, and tears.

So when other people criticize us, it’s like they’re saying it was all for nothing. How can you possibly find something wrong when my standards tower over everyone else’s? You should stand in awe of my tower!

Jokes aside, it’s natural to resist criticism. Your body tenses up, resentment bubbles up, and your mind promptly busies itself with listing all the reasons why they’re wrong. 

But at the end of the day, criticism is just someone’s opinion. If you resist it? You’ll end up driving a wedge in your relationship with them.

If you approach it with genuine curiosity? You might learn some valuable insight — and get even closer to your ultimate goal of being a better person

2) They easily find flaws

Imagine your friend calls you up, all excited about a new online business they’re building. They send you their URL, and you open up their brand new website.

Wow, that’s so exciting! I’m so happy for you! And… and the logo is a little off center, the fonts are wonky, the social media links are missing, and what on God’s green Earth is that button doing there??

Is this something you resonate with? Whenever you lay your eyes on someone’s work, you cannot help but notice all the ways they could do it better… that you would do it better.

I’m exaggerating a little to show my point, but you get the idea. And you can probably also get that although you have the best intentions, this would definitely not help your friend make a better website… but it would help them never share exciting news with you ever again.

You may already filter out the bulk of your advice between your mind and your mouth — but there’s probably still smaller bits and pieces that leak out.

My advice? Make that filter into a heavy duty one and only offer advice if someone explicitly asks you for it. They’ll appreciate it all the more, and you’ll know they really wanted to hear it.

3) They don’t let themselves have fun

You expect so much of yourself — to achieve more, to work more, to do better work… so much that all your time and energy goes towards achieving it.

So how do fun and relaxation, and actually living your life fit in? Sadly, often it doesn’t. That’s how it often is for demanding people. 

This is one thing I struggled with A LOT. I used to love playing sandbox video games, but as I got older every time I went to turn on my console, thoughts would creep in… why are you here building a virtual house when you could be in the real world building your real business?

I’d press the “off” button faster than you could say “party-pooper”. And discipline is great, but the problem with this behavior is that it can creep into your whole life… until one day you’ll look back and realize the only thing you can remember is working.

Having fun is important not just to keep yourself sane and to actually live your life rather than working all the time — but it actually helps you be more productive!

Whenever I let myself truly have some fun, I could always come back to work afterwards much more re-energized.

I encourage you to try it out yourself… you won’t regret it!

4) They use the words “should” or “must” a lot

You know how some people say “um”, or “you know” a lot without even noticing?

Well here’s a word that might have creeped into your vocabulary if you’re a demanding person — “should”.

I should be more productive… I should get through these emails before lunch… I must drop 5 pounds.. 

Obviously, it’s important to think about things we may not necessarily want to do, but that are beneficial or useful for us to do. 

If we stopped doing anything we “should” do, then no Brussel sprouts would ever be eaten anymore, and our lives would slowly turn into a mess. 

But as we saw above, there is a time for duty, and a time for pleasure. Has the word “should” and its cousins “must” and “have to” completely crowded out the words “I want to” from your life?

If yes, then it’s time to put some reins on that “should” and allow a bit more room for enjoyment

5) They follow all the rules

Another behavior that many demanding people display is following all the rules.

Wait… but that’s a good thing, right? Of course, it can be! None of the items in this list are things that are black-and-white right or wrong. They can be great in certain contexts.

But they can also be not so helpful in others. In the case of following rules, maybe there are situations where it’s good to question how things have always been done.

For example, is your company following an outdated process or protocol which could be done differently in just a fraction of the time?

Questioning the rules — and ultimately, breaking and redefining them — is how progress is made. 

So next time you find yourself doing something because that’s how it’s supposed to be done, take a moment to think: is this possible to change? Is it working out well, or can we make it better, faster, easier?

At the end of the day, this is also an expression of being demanding — but applied in reverse.

6) They try to control their emotions

Do you express your feelings freely, or do you try to have a tight grip on them?

A lot of demanding people do the latter — even if they don’t realize it.

Take me as an example. I show joy and excitement quite readily, and people can easily see when I’m sad, stressed, or uncomfortable.

But there are also emotions I try to control — like frustration, disappointment, and hurt. When these come up, I feel guilty about having them, and try to push them down.

This also comes down to the image you have of who you want to be. I don’t want to be a petty, angry person… so I better not show any anger. 

The thing is, those emotions don’t just dissipate — they stay stuck inside. And they do come out — just not in a way you deliberately choose. Instead, they leak out in your body language, tone, and tense expressions.

So think about this: no emotions are “bad” or “inappropriate”. They are there to signal important information for you. 

If you feel it’s not productive to share them publicly, make sure you allow yourself to at least process and work through them alone, perhaps with a journal or a therapist.

Making the best out of being demanding

Now you know 6 behaviors that demanding people often show, even without knowing it.

As I’ve touched on throughout the article, this list isn’t “things you should always avoid”, or even “things to feel ashamed about”.

Every quality has its good and bad uses, and you can definitely use being demanding to your advantage.

The key to doing that? Awareness.

Once you become aware of how being demanding affects your behavior, you’ll know whether it’s having a positive or negative impact on you and people around you.

Is there anything you want to pay attention to, or change? Now you hold the knowledge necessary to do that.

As you explore your own expression of being demanding, make sure to give yourself understanding and compassion. 

This is not necessarily something you have to snuff out of your personality. On the contrary, it’s a gift that you can learn how to use to make your life better than ever.

Silvia Adamyova

Born in Slovakia, raised in Canada, with a translation degree from University of Ottawa and an editing certificate from Simon Fraser University. Now based back in Slovakia (if you’re wondering why - have you seen Canadian winters?). Full-time freelance English teacher, translator, editor, and copywriter. Part-time avid reader, self-development junkie, and cake addict. I hope my writing inspires you in some way — if it does, find me on LinkedIn or Instagram and let me know!

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