If you have ever been labeled “difficult” by someone else, I know we will get along great! Is it because I am “difficult” as well?

Or is it because I understand why people get labeled “difficult” and I find great delight in that sort of personality type? “The Difficults” are a people who are “misunderstood” or volatileย or demandingย and they do not settle for almost-perfect or for the middling way. Difficults have high values and higher expectations of their work and the work of others, and that can make life miserable for those who view the world not as it is but as they are.

To label someone “difficult” is to try to marginalize their brilliance and to smother their genius. I get upset when I hear a group of people ganging up on a “difficult” and I always rise to the defense by asking a simple question: “What did they do?”

The answers are always meek and colorless and show more about the lacking intellect of the labeler than of the actor. So bring me all the “Misunderstood” and “Volatile” and “Impossible” people you can find and I will welcome them as we fight against mediocrity and group-think and Pareidolia in the hazy fog of a lazy and inexpectant society. If anyone ever calls you “difficult” be sure to thank them for the compliment!


  1. So, is “high maintenance” another euphemism for “difficult?” Because I can be that way at times. I always think of the movie When Harry Met Sally – one of my faves, by the way – when Harry talks about Sally’s high maintenance: “‘Waiter, I’ll have the salad, but I’d like the dressing on the side.'”
    To which Sally says, “I just want it the way I want it.”
    That’s me.
    And is it your opinion that “difficults” are perfectionists? My perfectionist mentality gets me into trouble all the time because I don’t want to do something until I can see it through to completion and to my satisfaction.
    It’s why I’m in therapy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I don’t know about that David, that is a lot of thanking to do and I am quite busy. Ha, just joking, well not really. I do get labelled difficult quite often now that I think about it.
    I like your view on the subject. I raise a virtual toast to your post.

  3. Hi Carla!
    I’ve always thought “high maintenance” meant a person who demanded to be taken care of with unreasonable expectations of pampering and gifting. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Perfectionists unite! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, perfectionists are “difficult” and while perfection is generally unattainable, the drive and the desire and the moving-of-mountains to try to meet perfection as finely and as humanly possible should be the goal of every person in the world.
    Unfortunately, those who don’t fit that form are labeled “difficult” and are placed on medication and put in therapy in order to lower their expectations of others and themselves and the world and we are all wounded by that dulling of a difficult, but sublime, perfectionism. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hey Eban!
    Nice to hear from you!
    Yes, the “difficult” label is used as a cudgel to shut us up and to diminish our expectations of others. Too often that label does what it is evilly intended to do — quiet us down, separate us from the unwilling and it warns others against our รขโ‚ฌล“impossibleรขโ‚ฌย personalities.
    We must fight those people by never giving in to “good enough” because good enough is never acceptable or even close to being right.

  5. I’ve definitely been labeled difficult from time to time but my boyfriend constantly is. He is always misunderstood but he has v. high expectations. He’s a Violin Luthier after all.

  6. Heya muse —
    Welcome to The Difficults Party! ๐Ÿ™‚
    There is no substitute for being exact and precise and factually correct. But I don’t have to tell you or your boyfriend that! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Oh, my! It’s getting a little friendly in here ain’t it?
    By the way, how do “difficult” people make their toast? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Welp, Carla, when you title a post “Why I Love Difficult People” you’re bound to get some heroic and honorable public lovin’ a’goin’ on! ๐Ÿ™‚
    It is interesting, on the toast issue, that you call yourself a perfectionist yet you fail to accept the difference between “true toasting” and “oven toaster toasting!”

  9. OK, look, I’m not difficult or anything like that, but I can be a bit of a perfectionist. That’s not really the same thing, i.e., they’re not mutually exclusive.

  10. the volatile people are the best. they have character, and don’t think that everyone should conform to the same standards of appropriateness.

  11. Hey marie b. —
    I’m with you on The Volatiles as well.
    The dictionary definition of “volatile” is quite unique and interesting and it isn’t such a big put-down as those who use it against us believe it to be. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Whether difficult is good or bad depends on how someone is being difficult.
    Being difficult to get something done properly is a good thing. Demanding the best of coworkers and employees sometimes requires being difficult. Sometimes people need to be difficult to get things done.
    Sometimes being difficult means expending lots of energy that gets one nowhere. Sometimes it ruins relationships that would have lead to mutual gain for both parties.
    Being difficult with subordinates just to “lord” over them can lead to a CYA culture where nothing gets done except for CYA memos to the file.
    I worked at a place where a difficult manager caused employees to disappear at lunchtime, never to return. We’d realize the employees hadn’t returned and find out later on that they quit without notice because they felt they couldn’t work with their manager. They gave up rather than deal with a difficult person.
    I’ve also seen many difficult people work very hard at being defiant in situations where being defiant wasn’t a good idea. Their difficult demeanor or attitude usually caused them to lose opportunities that would have been available had they taken a softer approach.

  13. Oh, hardee har har. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    No, but there have been times when I’ve been tempted to leave the office at lunch and never come back!
    And one of my coworkers did just that about two months ago!

  14. It’s totally maddening… and yet, I’ve never been more inspired and motivated to write. How ironic huh?
    Ok, I’m shutting up now… I’m taking up too much of your comment space! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. I guess that being difficult, impossible, and a perfectionist is the reason that I’m still around. In my line of work, there really ain’t much room for half-measures. It may also be the reason that I have to take 3 pills everyday to regulate my blood pressure.
    I personally don’t want everything perfect; I just want everything the way that I want it. And of course, everyone worshipping me.
    Actually, the guy in the office next to mine is worse than me. He walks in and sees my messy desk (sign of genius, i’ve been told) and shakes his head. I can see his eyes sweeping my mess. My reference books out of order and can see him pysically restraining his hands to keep from moving my stuff.
    It is kind of fun. Of course, my wife knows that the moment someone moves my mess; I’m lost.

  16. Hiya Kev!
    It’s good to know there are standards and ways of doing things that matter to you.
    Keep it up and don’t give in! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I want to know if Eban was raising the perfectly browned and buttered Virtual Toast we expect on this site, hmmmm? As a deputy of the Toast Police, I have to ask. I’m not trying to be difficult or anything…

  18. I know a man who is brilliant by any standards. However, he manages to motivate others effectively and get along with other people. I agree that difficult people are often intelligent, but it important to take your intelligence to the next level. Quell your frustrations with others and work on effective solutions. If everyone was as smart as you, then you wouldn’t have anything to proud of.

  19. I am not a difficult person by myself but I get along pretty well with them. How? One rule works – ”be wiser than the other people if you can, but don’t let them know.” And those who run aay from difficult people? THey run away from me too !!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Ha!
    I love your philosophy, Kathakali, and I am with you all the way. Difficult means you care to get it done right not that you don’t want it to get done at all.

  21. Thanks for your response! I am not an INTJ though – I am an ISTJ – odd man out? Whatever….but I get along well with them. And I love your philosophy too!

  22. No, you’re a Guardian/Inspector — it can work with an INTJ if you don’t mind we have “great interest in the abstract world of systems analysis and technological design” as David Keirsey writes.
    We share your sense of loyalty and doing the right thing.
    You help us in social situations.
    Sometimes, though, your reminders can sound like nagging to us and we’ll get quiet and go away for a bit to regain our independent status and to clear our mind.
    Sometimes we feel we are missing a vital connection with you but all that can be worked through together.

  23. David, thanks a lot for the explnation, it demystifies so many things.
    I know about INTJ a bit as I am a voracious reader and I read a lot about anything under the Sun – but I don’t really ”get” it at times. But I don’t nag because I know if things don’t go my way that is not the end of the world – and moreover following…”be wiser than….” ๐Ÿ™‚
    I am a perfectionist by nature and result oriented, so as long as things are going well and the objective is achieved – I am fine.
    I am hopelessly miserable in social situations, I get stuck after ”oh my god – its so cold!!!” or, ”oh – its so hot!!!” – most of the time but somehow manage it.
    I am really happy to connect with this group finally!

  24. Like animals there is probably some ancient need to gang up on someone “different” from the flock, norm. I believe some people might just have a built in drive (force?) to change and move on, seek perfection. How much of ones personality is inherited or coincidental?
    I really appreciate this intuitive standoffish blog/article/forum cite

  25. It’s a pleasure to have you with us, Johannes!
    I think personality is genetic and cannot be formed outside the body or by influenced beyond the mind.

  26. applause and accolades! 100% agree! Better to be difficult and stand upright in purest of integrity knowing that what has been produced, created, invented, discovered, modified, adjusted, upgraded and developed is the point! Be better, live better, compromise is for the fearful and insecure!
    I loved you statement about “what did they do?” That is my first question as well. Because it always comes down to jealousy, or projected insecurities, or castrated subversive passive aggressive behaviours!
    Yet conversely! Those whom can let themselves be encourage, motivated, driven, tested and challenged by one of us INTJ’s discover that wow… they see a new world. A world not filled with “why” but filled with “why not?”
    Because everything is possible and problems only exist to allow for the purest of solution discovery!!!
    Good blog. I needed this, as it was perfect for me having to deal with those whom are willing to exchange a higher standard for mediocrity.

  27. Welcome to Urban Semiotic, James! I thank you for your kind comment.
    It is difficult dealing with people who only care about “getting by” and not “getting it done.”

  28. Plowing Hollow Lives in Fallow Land

    As an author, you must focus your life on writing good stuff. Many authors are more obsessed with achieving fame instead of creating greatness in their words. When fame is the locus of your life — instead of good writing

  29. Validation is like a blanket on a cold night. Thank you for your post, I needed that. I have asked “what did I do?” so many times in the last three years that I have begun to think I need to change my ethics just to exist in this world. I wish there was a website listing jobs that “difficult” people could search for employment. Offering the stats from a questionnaire perhaps, that all employees had to fill out full of questions on their their personal ethics and morals. You then would not waste time and money only to be “voted out” when you were labeled “not a team player”. I feel outnumbered and I am running out of steam. Being yourself and believing in what’s right is has become exhausting.

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