People who display these 13 behaviors lack kindness and empathy (without realizing it)

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

They seem like nice people.

But you feel that they’re a bit detached—even a little rough and cold-hearted on some occasions.

Well, it’s probably because they display behaviors that reveal they’re actually NOT SO NICE.

Want to know which behaviors I’m talking about?

Here are 13 behaviors that show someone lacks kindness and empathy (without realizing it).

1) Being brutally honest 

We might think that being very direct is necessary for growth and progress.

And that as long as your intentions are good, you can say whatever you want to say in any way you want to say it.

After all, it’s “for their own good.”

The end justifies the means, so to speak.

But there is always—always!—a way to be a little gentler. 

People who are genuinely kind will try to find ways to be more careful with their words. You can tell there’s always an attempt to make others feel respected.

People who lack kindness and empathy, on the other hand, will find any opportunity to punch people in the gut.

And they do this best by being harsh with their criticism.

They’ll CHOOSE to say “Don’t take it personally but your work sucks”, instead of a gentler one like “It’s a good start. I’m excited to see your work evolve!”

2) Saying “Toughen up!”

I know some people just want to sound like Tony Robbins or Abraham Hicks.

They probably think that the more pressure they put on someone, the more they’ll get better.

That’s why they say things like “Come on, stop being such a wimp!” 

Or “When life hits you, hit it back harder!”

But while it works for SOME people, others would just feel worse hearing these tough, motivational phrases.

For all you know, they just want to be comforted and told that everything’s going to be alright. 

3) Changing the topic too soon

People who lack empathy don’t see the value of feelings and emotions, of philosophy and psychology.

So when someone opens up about their grief, anger, frustration, or sadness, they won’t pause and let them share more.

They won’t go “Oh no. Are you okay?”

They won’t go “Hey hun, I’m just here. Want to talk about it?”

Instead, they’d just say “Oh”…then  followed by “Anyways….”

They’d move on to talking about something else because they don’t see anything particularly special about you sharing your feelings.

As far as they’re concerned, sharing about their new hobbies is just as important as talking about how much you miss your father who just passed away.

4) Making decisions for others

People who lack empathy and kindness sometimes think they’re wiser than the rest of us.

And so it follows that they don’t see it problematic when they make decisions for others.

They even consider themselves a hero for it.

So they might say “yes” on your behalf to attend a party because they think you should stop being stuck in your room.

They’ll tell you they’re doing it for you—so you’ll finally stop being so depressed about your break-up…and who knows, you might even find a new girl.

Or they might message your mother that you need help financially when you told them you’re broke. 

They’ll tell you they’re just “concerned” about you.

5) Dismissing mental health issues

“Depression? Are you sure you aren’t just lazy?!”

“Anxiety? Well, aren’t we all a bit scared these days?!”

They might think it can shake you out of your funk by not acknowledging you have real problems.

They might think people are acting like “babies” because society loves to coddle anyone who claims they’re weak.

And of course, this is just plain wrong. 

Not only is it unkind and lacking in empathy, this kind of thinking usually prevents people from opening up and seeking help.

6) Being too firm with boundaries

Setting boundaries is healthy. We all know this. 

And this is the reason why you rarely approach people to ask for help. You’re too worried you’ll inconvenience others.

But then you had an emergency—say you’re in the hospital and you need $10,000— and so, well…you have no choice but to approach people!

Their reaction? 

“Sorry. I can’t even pay my bills.”

The problem is that you KNOW they’re lying.

And it’s not just with money—they do this with everything else! 

They’re not wrong, mind you. Again, it’s okay to set boundaries. They have a right to say “no” to any request.

But they won’t get any award for being kind or empathetic, that’s for sure.

In fact, they’re lacking in kindness and empathy when you know they’re actually capable of helping you on very important occasions.

7) Saying “We all have issues”

If you tell them “Sorry, I really had a bad week”…

Or “I am struggling to get my groove back after getting sick”…

They will make you feel bad about it.

Instead of comforting you so you’ll feel better, they’d roll their eyes and say this line.

Sure, we DO have issues—all of us!—but some just struggle to keep things together. 

And people who lack empathy and kindness can’t see this.

They think “If I can do it, you can do it.”

And if you can’t, they’ll think you’re just being a weakling full of excuses.

8) Considering reasons as “excuses”

When you give them an honest reason why you’re not able to do something, they’d think you’re just coming up with excuses.

Your dog got sick? You got ill? You don’t have money to travel with them to the Bahamas? 

They’ll think each one of them are just excuses!

This kind of person has no capacity to think beyond themselves. They just desperately want their plans to push through.

These are also the people who are firm believers of “If there’s a will, there’s a way”.

And while it’s fine to make others accountable for the promises they make, there are certain situations where we should try to put ourselves in their shoes.

9) “If others can do it, then why can’t you?”

Some people would like to think that we’re all equal, and that what sets successful people apart is that they just have the guts to do things.

And those people who are still struggling

They’re just plain “lazy” or “lacking in self-discipline”!

While this line might sound empowering, it can also make us feel like there’s something wrong with us if we’re still not some kind of Oprah or Bill Gates.

It will make us wonder, “yeah…so , really, why can’t I do it when everyone else can?”

This phrase can make us hate ourselves if we allow it.

10) Being overly critical

Some people think they’re critiques and judges of some kind…like their opinions could save humanity or that they have exquisite taste.

And if you call them out, they’d hiss and say “But I’m just trying to help!”

But sometimes, these people are excessive with their negative comments that it can kill all the hope we have left.

They don’t care what the other person feels as long as they can express what they think.

11) Always asking “What’s in it for me?”

Some people are not aware that they’re being unkind because they’re too focused on themselves

They feel like they have to get something from every interaction. And if they don’t, that means they’re just wasting their time.

That’s why when a friend asks them for a small favor —even if it’s just a few minutes to talk—they would always think to themselves “Hmmm, how can I maximize our time together?”

They always think about their personal gains, and this shows in how they relate with others.

12) Being too nonchalant

I’m not talking about being calm. 

I’m talking about indifference—of not giving a damn of the things kind and generous people should give a damn about.

Of course, they won’t make it too obvious.

They will care…but only very little. In fact, they’d just do it to SHOW they care.

If you’re sharing your problems, they’d let you elaborate for a bit, but then you can feel that they really don’t care.

And if you talk about a cause you’re passionate about, or about wars, or about child labor, they’d go “oh”.

But then after a minute or two, their thoughts are already somewhere.

13) Playing devil’s advocate

It’s fine to express an opposing view to start a debate.

But if they play devil’s advocate when someone’s sharing their worries and insecurities and suffering? 

That’s just harsh!

When someone says “I really hate how my family is using me”, they’d automatically side with the family.

They’d go “But are you sure you aren’t just being overly sensitive?” 

There’s a time to look at things from different angles, but it’s definitely NOT a good time to do it while someone is emotionally vulnerable.

Final thoughts

While it’s cute to be witty and badass in high school, it’s not so cute to be an assh*le in real life.

It’s already too exhausting to deal with the harsh realities of life. 

Why do we have to make our lives harder by being around people who are unkind and insensitive?

If you want to be happier, stay away from people who display these behaviors. 

But if you have no choice, then try to learn how to live with them (at least for a while).

Lost Your Sense of Purpose?

In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.

Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.

Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.

With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.

 

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

10 signs you’re dealing with a low-key narcissist, according to psychology

If someone uses these 10 phrases, they lack kindness and empathy for others