People who lack kindness and empathy for others usually display these 9 behaviors

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Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of others – is an absolute necessity for forming and maintaining healthy relationships.

Yet, some individuals seem to operate with a stark lack of these qualities.  

While not every unkind act indicates a complete absence of empathy, there are recurring patterns of behavior that signal a deficit.

Understanding these behaviors can be truly empowering. 

Because with such awareness, it’s far easier to pinpoint someone who lacks the ability to see our perspective.

With this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to set appropriate boundaries, protect your emotional well-being, and even feel compassion for those who struggle to connect with others on a deeper level. 

Let’s explore the 9 most common traits indicating someone lacks empathy and kindness:

1) Dismissive of emotions

A lack of empathy tends to come coupled with a dismissive attitude towards the feelings of others. 

“You’re too sensitive”.

“Get over it, it’s not a big deal”.

 “It was only a joke, stop overreacting”.

The above phrases tend to commonly pop up in their vocabulary, as these individuals often struggle to understand that emotions are perfectly valid, especially when they don’t personally resonate with the experience. 

This dismissiveness can make those around them feel unheard or even foolish for expressing their emotions, leading to a breakdown in communication and fragmented relationships.

2) Judgmental and overly critical

Quick to criticize and slow to offer praise, unkind and apathetic individuals tend only to focus on flaws and mistakes.

They offer up criticism dressed as ‘feedback’ with a complete lack of understanding of the complexities of situations.

This caustic and judgmental attitude sends a message that you are constantly being evaluated and will likely be found lacking.

All in all, a healthy dose of constructive criticism goes a long way, but maintaining a relationship with someone who constantly nitpicks your flaws can stifle the open communication essential for healthy relationships.

3) “Me me me” mentality

Those who lack empathy tend to focus all their attention on their own needs and desires.

Occasionally, we could all do with being a little more selfish, but those who have so little consideration for the impact of their actions on others tend only to burn the bridges around them.

Think constantly interrupting conversations, stamping their feet and demanding special treatment, or prioritizing their own ease and convenience – even if it means major inconvenience for someone else. 

This self-centered behavior demonstrates a lack of basic consideration for the needs of others, which tends to erode trust very quickly.

4) Zero accountability (“It wasn’t my fault!”)

Forget apologizing or admitting fault.  

Those who lack empathy tend to try their utmost to escape blame by making excuses, or using “sorry, but…”  non-apologies are common tactics.  

They struggle to see how their actions or words may have caused harm or inconvenience, and tend to care very little regardless. 

When someone is unable to acknowledge their role in a negative situation, even if they’re very obviously to blame, it prevents true problem-solving and conflict resolution

This type of evasion creates a toxic environment where other people feel they must always tread on eggshells to avoid unfair blame.

5) Listening? No thanks!

With so little care and consideration for the world around, these individuals often seem distracted during conversations.

As we explored above, they tend to be far more interested in talking about themselves than truly listening.

Good luck trying to tell them about your day or vent – you’ll likely finish speaking only to realize they weren’t paying attention at all.

Or, they ignore everything you have to say and immediately start talking about themselves.  

Genuine connection depends on feeling heard and understood, and is a two-way street. 

An inability to engage in active listening sends the opposite message, makes the non-listener seem extremely conceited,  and discourages people from confiding in them.

6) Little consideration for other people’s boundaries

Unkind and apathetic individuals will give you a hard time should you traipse over into their personal space or belongings, but they offer complete disregard when it comes to the personal boundaries of others.

Cue oversharing and trauma-dumping, asking intrusive and uncomfortable questions, or demanding your time when you’ve communicated needing space.  

Their world very literally revolves around them, and they often fail to grasp the importance of respecting the limits of others. 

This impolite behavior can make others feel disrespected or even unsafe, and prevents the development of trusting relationships.

7) Drama-lovers

Unfortunately, people lacking in empathy and kindness often thrive on gossip, love creating tension, and even incite arguments.  

When their own life gets too boring, they might relish seeing others upset and enjoy stirring the pot to create some excitement and novelty in their own life. 

This behavior tends to stem from deep-seated insecurities and reflects a lack of internal peace.  

And as we all know, being around someone who thrives on drama can be emotionally exhausting, making any healthy and lasting relationship nigh impossible.

8) Lack of remorse and inability to apologize

After causing harm, unkind individuals don’t seem to feel genuine guilt.  

While everyone makes mistakes and having enough awareness to forgive and move on is generally the best way forward, people with limited empathy may rationalize their behavior or even blame the person they harmed. 

As we explored above, their lack of accountabiliiy means that they would far rather point fingers and blame others rather than change themselves.

One of the more negative traits, this lack of remorse can wreak havoc on any relationship as they care little for the impact of their actions on others.

9) Taking advantage of others

For people who prioritize themselves, relationships are often seen as transactional.

“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”, but taken to the next level as they’ll rarely reciprocate…the scratching.

Instead, they use others for what they can gain.

They might give favors on occasion, but with the expectation of a much greater return.

And should you try evade performing whatever they ask of you, expect guilt-tripping and manipulative behavior.

Once they’ve sucked their fill, they tend also to discard people who are no longer useful to them. 

This manipulative behavior reveals that they do not value relationships for their own sake but rather see them as tools for personal gain.


While lacking empathy or kindness can be difficult to deal with, understanding these behaviors makes it far easier to navigate interactions with such individuals.

Remember, it’s not your job to fix them.

Your priority should be maintaining your own emotional well-being.

Set those firm boundaries, focus on healthy relationships, and don’t be afraid to walk away when kindness and respect are absent.

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