Are You a Pain-In-The-Ass Person?

She calls me again. A business acquaintance of mine, who wants to partner up with me for this training, learning, changing the world project she has in mind. And again I say: “Thanks, but no thanks”.

The project is not the problem. It seems like a good idea. The person is the problem. I know from one too many previous experiences that working with her, interacting with her, is a burden. She is what I call a pain in the ass person.

You know the type: the manager whose employees quit constantly, the businessman nobody wants to work with, the friend nobody wants to hang out with. Even though this person might have good professional skills, because of bad character and even worse people skills, she manages to make everybody want to stay away from her. And of course, like most people in this category, she has no clue why this is happening and thinks people are just mean, evil creatures.

Unfortunately, pain in the ass people are very common. Over the years, I have worked with these kinds of people, helping them improve their people skills and attitudes. Are you a pain in the ass person?

I believe that the most important steps in not being a pain in the ass person are to accept that you might be one, at least to a certain degree, to understand the key traits this person has and to look for them at your own person. Here are some of the essential traits from my perspective:

1. Compulsive lying. Pain in the ass people will constantly tell you what they believe you want to here, without really thinking whether it’s the truth or not. They will make stuff up and lie constantly. Even when you catch them, they will apologize and promise not to do it again, than they’ll do it 10 minutes later. This makes it very hard to trust them. Speaking of promises…

2. Not keeping their promises. Pain in the ass people will promise big things all the time, but they will not even manage to keep their small promises. They will promise to send you an email tomorrow, and they will do it in 3 days. They will promise you an 800$ fee, and after you finish your job they’ll tell you they can only give you 400$.


3. Lack of fairness. Pain in the ass people will often want you to do most of the work, while they get most of the money and the appreciation. They bring little value to the table but they want to get as much value as possible. And when you ask for your fair share, they won’t think twice about calling you selfish, but they will fail to see their selfishness, especially when it’s even visible to a blind man.

4. Bad listening skills. Pain in the ass people will generally have bad communication skills, but their listening skills are usually the worse. They don’t really listen when you talk; they just phase out and think about their stuff. Then, when they have a thought they want to express, they will just interrupt you brutally and say it. This is how a hypothetical dialog with these people takes place.

5. Opposition to any idea different than their own. Pain in the ass people will reject your ideas simply because they are different from theirs. Their big egos cannot tolerate the thought that they are wrong or that someone else has a better idea. They will often try to bring arguments to support their side but in the end, even if they lose the debate on logic and arguments, they will simply ignore this and just say: “No, you’re wrong. We’ll do it my way.

If you identify any of these traits at yourself, I strongly suggest you work on your people skills and eliminate them. These traits sabotage your relationships and performances like crazy. If you’re working or interacting with a person with these traits, I have 6 words for you: Get the hell out of there!


  1. Hi Eduard,
    Great post. I’m sure I’m not that sort of person…….however do you think these people would be too arrogant to realise it?!
    My sister’s boss is like this and has had her in tears so many times, everyone else quits after a few months but she has decided to tough it out…..I have told her to get the hell out over and over again so I’m going to show her this post. Hopefully if she hears it from someone else she will listen!
    Best wishes,

    • Hi Kate,

      I think a lot of them are definitely to arrogant to realize it. But i was pleasantly surprised to find out there are also people who are very willing to realize it, if your provide them with the right evidence.

      I recently had a coaching client who became aware he was a pain in the ass manager, even though 2 weeks before he thought he has a good manager. I just hope he now takes this awareness and puts it to good use.

  2. This post is so timely for me. I agreed to do a project with an acquaintance. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. I have regretted it ever since. She parses out information in such a way to make everything as complicated and inconvenient as possible. She posts on Facebook no fewer than 15 times a day and has friend requested all of my friends, which seems like a pretty serious party foul to me. I had good intentions, but now I’m annoyed with myself for not seeing this coming. Once this project is over, I will choose not to know her any more.
    .-= Meg at Demanding Joy´s last blog ..Office vs. Cubicle =-.

    • Good lesson Meg. I’ve been through very similar experiences and I am now much more cautious in choosing the people I work with.

  3. As soon as I started reading this post, a particular person I know sprang to mind, and seriously you described him down to the last gene! He’s a fully qualified, card carry, life-time member, pain-in-the-ass person! At least I now know it’s him, not me.
    .-= Topi´s last blog ..How will you be defined? =-.

    • Aaarrr! Why aren’t the pain-in-the-ass people reading this? Please forward this article to them. Maybe they will recognize themselves in at least part of it.

      • I thought about forwarding your post to him, but I suspect he has so little insight he’d just think I had sent it by mistake…or he’d think I was finally admitting to being a pain-in-the-ass person myself 🙂
        .-= Topi´s last blog ..How will you be defined? =-.

    • Me too. It’s impossible to get things done in your workplace when a PITA makes it near impossible! What about when this person is directly above you on the corporate ladder? How is it best to handle the situation?

      • Samantha, I don’t pay a lot of attention to formal authority if it is not warranted and this is what I also encourage others to do. It also helps if you go above their head and build a good professional relationship with your manager’s manager.

  4. Costin-Sorin Ionescu says:

    Most people that I have business relations with, are the other kind of PIA, 🙂

    1. Honesty is the norm

    2. Always keeping promises and deadlines

    3. Fair-play is part of the game

    4. They always hear what you are saying

    5. Every issue is only another opportunity to improvement

  5. Costin-Sorin Ionescu says:

    Another thing: next time pass your text through an English language checker. See brackets in original text.


    Another thing, try and accentuate less your working experience. Position yourself as an impersonal observer.
    Communication is accepted easier when ideas are referenced to a third situation / person (my opinion).

    Thank you for the opportunity to exchange ideas with you,


    • Sorin,

      Thanks for pointing out my spelling mistakes. I took care of them.

      As for my writing style, please keep in my that I don’t do technical writing, but a combination of technical and personal writing. I don’t want to be the impersonal observer.

  6. Hi Eduard,

    Great post; people don’t often call out PIA’s. It’s just too much drama! And, I know I definitely avoid those types like the plague…instead of many people I know who will enable the drama by continuing to listen to and hang around the offenders. As for PIA’s reading your post, they may – but not so sure if they’ll recognize themselves; denial anyone? Thanks for sharing your insight! 🙂
    .-= Tisha´s last blog ..Friday’s Feature: Moving Forward After Pregnancy Loss =-.

    • Hey Tisha,

      I imagine most PIA people reading this article will not identify themselves in the description. A lot of them tend to have huge blind spots. But if at least a couple will, I did my job. Anyway, this gives me an idea for a follow-up article on how to help PIA people see they are a PIA.

  7. Eduard: This was a good one … and honestly so helpful to those of us who are either pains ourselves or are managing someone that is 🙂 There were literally points when I was reading this that I was smiling because the way you described these traits was 100% accurate. I actually found my way to your blog because you left that great comment and pointed me in the direction of that great quote from George Bernard Shaw. Thanks for that by the way. I really appreciate it and am glad I stopped by because this was a real great post. Have a great weekend.

  8. I sure know a few of those. I can’t have too much of a go at them…because it takes one to know one I’m sure I have those traits on occasion. But thankfully, I think to most I’m just a lovely guy! 😉
    .-= Amit Sodha – The Power Of Choice´s last blog ..Spirituality IS NOT A Separate Area Of Life =-.

  9. A colleague of mine seemed to always put out whatever was the opposite idea that I put out. It used to bother me until I found out it was actually an NLP metaprogram (“Difference”.) Interestingly, I then noticed that it was just part of how they participated in conversations — nothing personal, and no ego … just different.
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..Inspire Yourself with Skill =-.

    • Ha-ha. I know a couple of people like that. They like to oppose what is being said, all the time. I sometimes manage this by asking this person for her opinion first. The look on her face is usually priceless.

  10. i don’t want to meet that kind of person! just reading the post made me imagine how bad will that person be, thanks for sharing
    .-= Farouk´s last undefined ..Response cached until Tue 8 @ 8:20 GMT (Refreshes in 23.93 Hours) =-.

    • Well, lucky you. I know a couple of people who fit this description very well in terms of skills (or lack of) and attitudes. And I run from them like the plaque.

  11. Great post man and brings right to the front the need for being a person of integrity – basically the complete opposite of the “pain in the ass”

    • Jonny, I think this is one of the reason integrity is so appreciated in most organizations and relationships. It makes the social dynamics a lot smoother.

  12. Eduard –

    Personal integrity and living by our values are at the heart of living a happy and good life. Pain in the ass people are untrustworthy, unpredictable and usually unhappy. We should all strive to live in integrity with values and be consistent. Very nice account of this – thank you.

    .-= Phil – Less Ordinary Living´s last blog ..The Power of Promises – How to Never Let Yourself Down Again =-.

  13. Hi Eduard,
    I can see where I have been a pain-in-the ass person to some degree when I was younger (35ish). I was always taking the bull-in-the-china-shop approach to business dealings. This approach did net results, but in hindsight caused more missed opportunities and a lot of stress. I had to reinvent my attitude from “everyone is out to screw me” to, “everyone is running around trying to support me.” Now that I am older and wiser I value listening, learning and being humble over being RIGHT. No one ever wins the ‘Rightness Game.’
    .-= rob white´s last blog ..All Forms of Life are Levels of One Consciousness =-.

    • Wow Rob, I’m glad to see a guy who learned from his mistakes and developed his people skills. Progress as a person is a very fulfilling thing for me to see, and to help it happen.

  14. Hi!
    LOL give this list to my hubs and ask him;) Depending on the day I’m sure I fit at least 2 of these. Hey I’ve made tremendous progress over the years.

    This post gives us the opportunity to look at ourselves honestly. I’m taking it!

  15. The wonderful thing about a pain in the ass person is that you can learn so much from them. You get to see from their example the type of attributes you don’t want to have and you have the chance, if you want to take it, of a deeper awareness of yourself – she doesn’t listen but do I ?

    “O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oor self as ithers see us”
    Robert Burns (Scottish national poet 1759 -1796)
    Translation – O would some Power the gift give us to see ourselves as others see us
    .-= Marion´s last blog ..Difficult People – What makes a difficult person =-.

    • Marion,

      I think you are right. Once we see certain kind of behaviors at pain-in-the-ass people, the best thing we can do is look at ourselves and see if we don’t have them as well, at least to some extent.

  16. Good points in this article. I think the extreme opposites of the traits you mention deserve some exploration too.

    I have found it can be quite hard to be around people who tell the truth without discretion, or tell the truth in a destructive manner – eg. being critical for the sake of suggesting they are better than you. The criticism may be true, but they are being unhelpful in the way they tell it.

    It’s also hard when people take promises too seriously. Like being very desperate to deliver on a promise you don’t really want to hold them to, or when it’s more convenient and comfortable for them to break their promise in favour of changing plans.

    When people try to be too fair, depending on the situation, it may leave too little room for compassionate circumstances. On listening skills, sometimes people listen too intently or don’t offer enough interruption to help steer a conversation. Personally, sometimes it’s nice to feel like we’re not just taking turns speaking, or that I’m not the only one genuinely interested in the topic.

    Finally, if people agree too readily with ideas different to their own, it’s hard to get to know them. A couple of the biggest pains in the ass people I’ve had to deal with weren’t sharing their disagreements enough. I felt like I was trying to be friends with a mannequin, not a person.

    Hm, now that I’ve written all that, I can’t help but wonder if being too ‘somewhere in the middle’ can be pain-in-the-assy too. I would love to read more about how to feel your way through not being a pain in the ass! 🙂

    • Trying to be friends with a mannequin, not a person – I know the feeling. They’re so slippery it’s hard to find something solid in their way of being to build a relationship on.

  17. I’ve recently started following your posts. I was offered a management position in my company this week… these are all great to read, and I think i’ll print this and put it in my office, so I don’t become any of the above 🙂

  18. NLP people are, ironically, often the worst listeners of all!: Superficially, they listen EXTREMELY closely, but only so they can format -their- response, to fit with your -phrasing-. This is a far cry from -really- listening, to your point of view and reasoning.

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