20 signs someone has an attitude problem [+ How to deal with them]

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Some people are more pleasant to deal with than others. 

Maybe they’re just having a bad day, or you brought up a subject they really don’t want to discuss right now!

But in other cases you’re dealing with somebody who has a bona fide attitude problem.  

Here’s how to spot such people and what to do about it. 

1) They undercut everything you say

The first of the top signs someone has an attitude problem is that they undermine your words. 

If you say a restaurant is good, they say it’s really nothing special…

If you give someone advice to save money they say life is for living…

If you say the sky is blue they say that science has actually discovered that it’s not any real color…

Whatever you say, they have to one-up you. 

2) They try to steal your credit

Next up is that people with attitude problems try to steal credit. 

At work, in your personal life or in any context, it always has to be them who gets the praise. 

These people are often insecure narcissists, and that becomes completely obvious as you observe their actions and behavior. 

They need the limelight on them, and any good idea or progress must be attributed to them. 

They have no shame to steal your ideas or steal your credit.

3) They use you for their agenda

There’s a saying that’s very true:

Either you live your dream or you will work for someone else’s.

That’s straight facts. 

Many people seem outwardly nice and like great people, but at the bottom line they will use you for their agenda:

Sex, money, power, control, anything you can think of. 

If you don’t want to be the pawn of someone else’s agenda the solution is simple:

You need to find your own purpose and live it. 

How? 

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There’s so much low-quality advice out there in the self-help community, but this is about a very real, very effective way to discover why you’re here and put it into action. 

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4) They gossip behind your back 

Nobody likes the kind of people who spread rumors, and unfortunately there are far too many of them. 

This is a definite sign of an attitude problem:

Somebody who gossips behind your back about you or those close to you. 

They may smile to your face, but be cautious of what’s going on behind the scenes, because it’s often far more vindictive and petty than you realize. 

5) They joke at your expense

Laughter is a great thing and humor is one of the best ways to lighten up a situation

But when it’s used at somebody’s expense, it becomes a much different matter. 

One of the top signs someone has an attitude problem is that they make jokes that are demeaning to you. 

They may be disguised as just fun, but dig under the surface and you find that they are making fun of you and who you are. 

6) They act superior to you 

We each have talents and skills in various areas, but the least you can do is try to still treat others with basic respect. 

Those with an attitude problem don’t do this. 

They act superior to you, posturing that their wealth, looks, status or intelligence makes them “better” than you. 

Their every word and action makes it clear they consider you lesser. 

Not cool. 

7) They scowl and make faces at you 

Have you ever been around someone who gives you a lot of side eye or weird negative expressions?

It’s surprisingly disconcerting and upsetting, especially when they’re a total stranger. 

If they have a problem with you, why not just come right up and say it?

But they don’t. They just scowl or look like they’re doing a haka dance while urinating on your grave. 

Very uncool. 

8) They openly or discreetly laugh at you 

Next up we get to those who laugh at you, either openly or discreetly. 

For one reason or another, this attitude problem person finds you funny. 

But I don’t mean funny like Adam Sandler, I mean funny like they think you’re a hilarious loser who doesn’t deserve any respect. 

Even if that’s the case (and I’m sure it’s not!) they can at least be polite enough to not treat you in such a disrespectful way. 

9) They try to get you in trouble at work 

We all need some way to make money or have the means to survive physically in life. 

One of the worst signs someone has an attitude problem is that they try to interrupt or destroy that. 

They try to get you in trouble at work.

It could be spamming your company’s page with negative social media comments or leaving negative feedback with your boss. 

Whatever it is, they seemingly have no shame in doing it. 

10) They speak disrespectfully to you 

All of us may speak a little disrespectfully from time to time when we’re stressed or busy. 

But one of the signs someone has an attitude problem is that they consistently talk to you like you’re dirt. 

Their tone of voice, word choice and inflection is pure toxic disrespect. 

Yuck. 

11) They mock or undermine your core values 

Not everyone may agree with you, and that’s normal. That’s life. 

But one of the top signs someone has an attitude problem is that they specifically mock and undermine your core values

Whatever it is you love or believe in, they are here to let you know in a thousand ways that:

  • You’re an idiot
  • You’re wrong
  • You’re kind of a bad person.

Fun. 

12) They intentionally try to start fights with you 

Conflict happens and is part of life. 

But at the very least we can hopefully say we tried to avoid conflict or at least unnecessary conflict. 

However one of the biggest signs someone has an attitude problem is that they try to start fights with you.

Any excuse will do, but they are there up in your face and trying their best to provoke you into an angry response. 

Why? They have an attitude problem. 

13) They use money to manipulate or put you down

Money matters, there’s no doubt about that. 

But when you use it to control and pressure others you are:

  • A major a**hole
  • A person with a big attitude problem

It happens every day, but that doesn’t make it right. 

Just because you have money or access to money does not make you God. And it certainly does not give you the right to treat people like sh*t

14) They play with sexual desire to control or exploit you

Sex is a powerful force, and sexual and physical desire can get people to do things they’d otherwise never dream of. 

Those who use it to manipulate and control others know this very well. 

And they love the power. 

They believe that being hot or sexually attractive gives them the right to pressure, lie and manipulate you. 

This is very sick stuff, to say the least, but it’s definitely an attitude problem that crops up every day. 

15) They put you in physical danger on purpose 

This may sound strange, but one of the biggest signs someone has an attitude problem is that they endanger you on purpose. 

Example?

Gunning the car engine to 150 miles an hour to scare the crap out of you because you annoyed them with your criticisms…

Why would somebody do this?

Because it works. 

Being scared sh*tless can be a very quick way to shut up and do what someone says, and can also quickly breed “respect,” at least the kind of respect build directly on fear. 

The problem is that people with attitude problems often don’t care why you respect them, they just want that obedience. 

16) They pressure you to do what you don’t want to

Some of my worst memories go back to situations like this:

Supposed friends or peers trying to get you to do something you don’t want to do…

Try drugs, sleep with someone you don’t like, start a fight with somebody you have no beef with…

One of the biggest signs someone has an attitude problem is that they try to pressure you to do what you don’t want to. 

This demonstrates a basic lack of respect and desire to manipulate you. 

17) They emotionally manipulate you 

Emotional manipulation is very common because predators know they can use it to get their way. 

It’s usually fairly obvious, but not always. 

It’s more or less somebody trying to make you feel indebted to them or like you should do something because they want you to. 

It can also be that you need to allow them to get away with bad behavior or wrong actually if you “really” care about them. 

In other words: let me do whatever I want or you don’t really care about me.  

18) They make you feel inferior 

One of the most disturbing signs someone has an attitude problem is that they make you feel inferior. 

It’s not only the comments, the gossip behind your back and the acting superior, which I’ve already mentioned…

It’s their direct comments to your face:

Commenting that you’re not good enough, that you’re trash, that you’ll never amount to anything. 

What makes it saddest of all is that sometimes such disempowering comments come from parents, coaches, teachers and those we trust most. 

Attitude problems aren’t just a problem with people we don’t know well. 

19) They play the victim to control you 

We’re all victimized at times. Life works that way. 

One day you’re the king of the hill, the next you’re getting blamed for someone else’s problem, dumped or being told you’re shit by your boss. 

That’s life!

But one of the worst signs someone has an attitude problem is that they use their supposed victimhood to control and guilt you

If you don’t loan them money it’s because you don’t truly care about them. 

If you date someone else it’s because you never really loved them…

If you give the compliment to another person it means you never appreciated them at all.

The point?

To milk compliments, money, attention and love out of you through guilt and making you feel bad. 

20) They try to bully you 

Bullying is wrong when you’re in grade school and it’s wrong when you’re an adult. 

Anyone doing it to you is completely out of bounds, but it happens all the time, from aggressive drivers in traffic bullying you to work colleagues trying to tell you you’re worthless. 

One of the worst signs someone has an attitude problem is that they try to bully you

At any available opportunity they make you feel bad, lob insults your way, undermine your reputation and try to grind you down. 

You have to be mentally and emotionally strong, otherwise such people and their words can do serious damage. 

Dealing with someone with an attitude problem

Dealing with someone who has an attitude problem isn’t easy. 

Think of this as managing the situation, because it’s crucial to keep in mind that we do not control the behavior of others. 

The most we can do is define and maintain our own boundaries. 

For that reason, let’s get to the top five tips for dealing with attitude problem people. 

Avoid if possible

First and foremost, avoid those with an attitude problem if possible. 

The simple fact is that some of us have a poor self-image and believe that we must endure or take abusive and desultory behavior. 

You don’t. 

You have the absolute right to be treated with basic respect and humanity the same as any other human being. 

If somebody is speaking disrespectfully to you or engaging in the kind of crappy behavior I’ve noted above, walk away if at all possible. 

If they are somebody you work closely with, in your family or otherwise unavoidable, then we have to move on to step two.  

Don’t engage

If you can’t avoid somebody with an attitude problem, do your best not to engage them. 

When they goad you with insults, jokes at your expense or shows of their superiority you ignore them as much as possible. 

If they make you the butt of jokes in front of a group or directly challenge or bully you, you shake your head, avoid responding and go on with your day. 

If it reaches a point that’s more intense than this then we will have to proceed directly to point five. 

However, if the individual leaves you alone and focuses on something else, we can proceed to the next tip for what to do when dealing with somebody with a bad attitude. 

Deflect and deter 

Deflection is a process whereby you basically sidestep the insults and behavior of somebody with a bad attitude. 

For example, if a bad attitude woman accosts you in the parking lot of a mall for parking wrong and tells you that “wherever you come from” they must think parking like that is OK (indicating your old battered Ford) you deflect her…

The best way is to say something that’s more like a joke:

“True, where I come from we only have demolition derbies so we don’t really bother parking.”

The humor will generally throw the person off. 

If it doesn’t, then it’s time to move on to the deterrence phase, which is where you try to show the person that their bad attitude is going to be a detriment to them instead of a benefit.

“Do you really want to have a fight on a nice day like this? Because if you do I’m here for it. And I have nowhere else to be.”

This is basically calling their bluff. If they want to argue and have a crappy day over a parking dispute it’s going to waste their time and be a headache for you both, but you’ll do it if they insist. 

Strategic dissonance 

Then we get to tactic four, strategic dissonance

This is where you basically use distraction and odd behavior to throw the bad attitude person off their game. 

These people are used to folks who fold right into their script, so when they come across somebody with unexpected or bizarre antics it can be very hard for them to know how to respond. 

A common example would be to respond with a joke, as above. 

But you can also just say very strange things sort of like a haiku. They may believe you’re a bit mentally unbalanced.

“Nice day today, isn’t it? I think those are called cumulous clouds.”

“What? I’m talking about how you did a poor parking job and blocked access to my door.”

“Or is it nimbus clouds? Isn’t that some kind of jet? Gosh, I get so confused sometimes.” 

Direct confrontation 

If all else fails then direct confrontation may be all that’s left. 

An example would be simply stating your refusal to be treated a certain way:

“Do not talk to me that way. I will not accept it.”

You may also say something even stronger such as:

“Don’t play victim with me. It won’t work.”

People with a negative attitude may use this as an inroad to start a big argument or toxic interaction, but you don’t have to take the bait. 

Just repeat yourself, raising your voice the second, third and fourth time.

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