Emotional Abuse

September 07, 2020

Individuals with threatening, intimidating and negative personality traits undermine relationships, households and organizations. Individuals all around us have their own unique personalities. Undoubtedly, we all encounter individuals from time to time with personalities that are challenging, emotionally abusive and even aggressive. When we better understand individuals with difficult personalities, it keeps us from taking things personally, and enables us to help create a safe and productive environment for others.

Some of the more dominant difficult personality traits include:


  • Hostile people – These individuals are often abusive and intimidating, finding pleasure in the fear they create.  They enjoy reacting, so they’ll wait for others to challenge them.

  • Narcissistic people –  These  individuals  are interested in being the center of attention as often as possible.  They want to look like the expert who can do everything better than you.

  • Passive-aggressive people – These individuals are  sly  and  cunning  when  they  undercut authority. They will insult people in a sarcastic way and claim they are just joking.

  • Negative people – People with this personality trait distrust anyone in power or authority. They are the only ones who know the right way and can find a downside to anything.

  • Antisocial people – These individuals resist attempts to be engaged socially, making it impossible to know what they are thinking or doing.  Antisocial people typically distrust others and assume everyone is against them.




When interacting with hostile people:

✓  Find ways for them to let off steam and calm down without becoming abusive.

✓  Address them by name, and calmly state what you want to discuss.

✓  Set boundaries and avoid engaging them in front of an audience. 


When interacting with narcissistic people:

✓  Refuse to argue or act like you know more than they do.

✓  Explain  that  you  would  like  to  use  your knowledge too.


✓  Set   clear   boundaries,   expectations   and consequences.


When interacting with passive-aggressive people:


✓  Focus on the issue, not the person, and limit potential for personalizing.

✓  Meet with the individual in private or with one of your managerial peers.

✓  Let them know you will not tolerate their sarcasm and undercutting. 


When interacting with negative people:

✓ Focus on the facts of a situation and what needs to happen next.

✓  Avoid  engaging  in  discussion  or debate about possible solutions.

✓  Instead, ask them what would be different if the problem was solved.

When interacting with antisocial people:

✓ Use  open-ended  questions  when  you speak to them and engage them.

✓  Be comfortable with silence and wait for them to respond.

✓  Build rapport casually rather than engaging intensely too quickly.




Dealing with difficult personality traits in the people we love or work with requires effort, and it can be frustrating and discouraging. Remember, you’re not alone when it comes to figuring out how to work with those who have some of these traits. Consider engaging a life coach or counselor for guidance on next steps.


Want to talk to a counselor today about this? 

Call us at 800-453-7733 and ask for your “Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation" with one of our licensed counselors. We’ll listen, answer questions you may have, and help you plan next steps.

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