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3 archetypes of social weirdos

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I got a great question about social skills.

“How do you talk productively and amicably with a boss whose long-windedness turns every conversation into a never ending monologue? I feel like my inability to get a word in edgewise with him prevents me from getting any respect from him.”
-Mariko

Which reminded me of a bunch of archetypes I’ve encountered in meeting people:

The One-Word-Answer-Giver

I was at some open bar thing with my friends and my buddy went to get us drinks. Within seconds, some guy comes up to me and goes, “Hey man, what’s up?” I said hello. We got to talking. Then he interrupts me — “Hey listen, my friend likes you.”

Me: “Oh yeah? Is your friend a girl or guy?”

Him: “HEY MAN. I’M NOT A FAG.”

Ok, red flag #1.

He points out his friend, a semi-attractive Indian girl. I wasn’t really into her, but I thought it was pretty cool she was aggressive (even if she sent her friend over to talk to me). So I go, cool, I’ll come talk to her in a few.

My friend comes back, we hang out, and a few minutes later I walk over to the girl. I go hey, what’s up. She is like “hi.” Very terse.

I’m like…so…what’s going on?

Her response: “Nothing much.”

HEY GIRL. THIS IS YOUR IDEA, NOT MINE. I DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO TALK TO YOU BUT HERE I AM. NOW YOU’RE GIVING ME ONE-WORD ANSWERS?

I’m looking around like, are we on Candid Camera? And the friend is standing right there, so clearly he didn’t just make this up. I pry two more excruciating answers. Finally, I say, well…have a good night.

One-word-answerers make you want to re-think your entire life. Why am I here? Why is this conversation so boring? Is gravity real? I used to blame myself for not being able to connect with these people. Maybe it’s me! Should I come up with new conversation topics? Now, like in many things, I just blame them and move on.

The One-Upper

Everyone knows a one-upper. The most interesting thing is, they’re not just bragging about GOOD things that happen. Usually, they love to thrive on how terrible and difficult their life is.

Two people especially love to do this: college students and new moms.

College student: “OMG dude, I only slept 3 hours last night.”

College student #2: “That’s nothing. I’ve only slept 2 hours in the last 9 days and I wrote 3 essays, 2 problem sets, and created a new formula on…”

New mom: “I had a really difficult labor for my son.”

New mom #2: “You!? I was in labor for 9 straight days. I wasn’t allowed to eat anything. I almost died! They had a team of 12 doctors in there.”

The One-Upper reduces ordinary people to mumbling, “Really? Wow” responses because there is no way to get out. However, when paired with another One-Upper, it is truly an explosion of narcissism. I like to listen in from nearby and cackle.

The Rambler

This is the worst. You ask a simple question, and they go into 16 minutes of responses. Just as they’re finally coming to a finish…the last words leads to a new story! Key phrases include “So then I started this new job…well it’s not really about the job, but the thing is, when I first moved to New York…” [story about New York].

Due to the dysfunctional social skills of some IWT readers, I’ve had to develop the ability to extricate myself from situations rapidly. Still, on a recent trip to SF, I met a guy who would not let me go for THIRTY MINUTES. No matter how sophisticated my exit strategy, he kept me in place with his verbal tractor beam.

Finally, I had to cut him off with this. “Sorry, but I have to leave. My friend has been waiting for me for 30 minutes.” He stopped and, in a moment of fleeting light, he realized he’d been talking non-stop for a half-hour. As I walked away, he turned to talk to someone else.

Solution: You look for ways to kill yourself. (Also, check out this video about speaking mistakes, and how to end your sentences with power.)

My favorite ways to improve social skills:

Here are some ways to get around these situations.

Question for you

I mentioned 3 archetypes of social dysfunction: The One-Word-Answer-Giver, The One-Upper, and The Rambler.

What else am I missing? Share your stories below.

By the way, I’ll be talking more about social skills on my email list. Join 200,000+ people on my email list by signing up below to be sure you get the new material.

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[…] 3 archetypes of social weirdos is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich. […]

Brian
Brian
2 years 8 months ago

Ha, quite aware of the first and third types. An addition to the list… The Ignorers. They will ignore a question you asked during a conversation and breach another topic, forcing me to either ask the question again (and again) or forget it because otherwise I might seem awkward or needy.

Brian
Brian
2 years 8 months ago

There’s also the silent type. You’re explaining something relevant to the topic at hand, finish, and they just stare at you not saying anything until you say something else.

Jenn
Jenn
2 years 8 months ago
I have a former friend who I’ll call “The Controller”. In any given social situation, she turns the dynamic so that she’s almost holding court — instead of the conversation being a spontaneous give-and-take, she controls the conversation as if she’s leading a panel discussion. She’ll ask someone a question, they’ll answer, and then she’ll turn to another person in the group and ask “Fred, what do you think of that?” After a while she’ll change the topic and say “Let’s talk about X now. Mary, what do you think about X?” It’s exhausting. The funny thing is, she never… Read more »
Rick
Rick
2 years 8 months ago

You nailed this one on the head – definitely deserving of this list.

Alicia
Alicia
2 years 8 months ago

The coversational narcissist. When you mention something you’ve done, they immediately relate it to something they’ve done (most of the time without letting you finish your sentence) and then proceed to talk about themselves and look irritated if you try and finish your story.

Rosa
Rosa
2 years 8 months ago

Just slightly worse than that, is when all the questions she asks you are mere set-ups for what they want to talk about! I have a close friend that I’m just now realizing does this. All the time. Strange.

Bill
Bill
2 years 8 months ago
The Joker. This is the person who will attempt to make a funny comment about everything you say. They are always trying to “lighten the mood” but it becomes apparent that it is because they are incapable of carrying on a serious conversation. The Specialist. This person ties every conversation to their topic of expertise or study, whatever that is. Football, music, hunting, shopping, economics, history, whatever, they have the comparative situation in their chosen field of play, regardless of how remotely relevant it may be. They don’t know about anything else and aren’t interested in learning about anything else,… Read more »
Sara
Sara
2 years 8 months ago
I confess- I am a Joker. For the longest time, I thought it was my “thing”, that I could be relied on to find the humor in any situation. I thought that surely everyone else must see how funny/crazy/ironic and randomly connected everything was; it was my job to point it out at every opportunity. The cornier, the better! Wordplay is our friend! I see now that this habit (not a character flaw, not a lack of intelligence, not a deliberate attempt to draw attention to myself, it is merely a habit)- has derailed more conversations and potential friendships than… Read more »
Julien
Julien
2 years 7 months ago

I definitely know the Specialist type. One of our friends used to be a lawyer and always pushes every topic back to “what the law says” …

Kelvin Kao
2 years 8 months ago

Oh, and there’s people that, upon hearing a topic, say “oh, I saw a movie about that, have you seen…?” And the rest of it would be about movies.

Shil
Shil
2 years 8 months ago

Expanding on Alicia’s conversational narcissist comment. The girl who comes in all chirpy and starts off the conversation with “What did you do this weekend?” Feigns interest… and looks at you impatiently when you’ve talked for over 30 seconds and then gets all cheery when its her turn and proceeds to talk for a half hour about her weekend…. Why do they ask at all, if they just don’t care?

Oli
Oli
2 years 8 months ago

Hi Ramit,

What social Archetype are you?
If you find this sort of thing interesting you might like to check out a great book called Games People Play by Eric Berne if you haven’t already.

Lorna
Lorna
2 years 8 months ago

The ‘statement maker’. The nerdy guy who tries to start a conversation with you by making a statement, rather than asking you a question, that isn’t a compliment. e.g. You must be very hungry.

He should ask me a question that I might have an opinion about or be able to tell a story about. e.g. What do you think of the music? or How do you know our host?

dora g
dora g
2 years 7 months ago

+1 for the Statement Maker! I happened to have tried to be in a relationship with one. and that was rather painful. Him: “You sure are happy to see your family this weekend!”. Me: “Where did you get this information?”

Charity
Charity
2 years 8 months ago

The Self Depricator! In a totally neutral conversation, the SD finds innumerable way to mention, thinking they’re being funny, things about themselves that they’re uncomfortable with – “Oh, I’d love to do that, but they don’t let fat people do (xyz).” “It’s lonely not having a girlfriend, but I’m so unattractive that I just suck it up and move on with my life.” “WHY DON’T PEOPLE LIKE ME?” Ugh.

AD
AD
2 years 8 months ago

Mine is related. It’s the Flatterer/Self Deprecator. They say something nice about you, then *immediately* insult themselves in the same breath. Like, “I love that dress, that’s something I would’ve worn before I had two kids and got fat.”

Do you say “thank you” to that because they complimented you? Do you assure them that they aren’t fat? Both? It’s very awkward.

Scott
Scott
2 years 8 months ago

The App Lover

Those of you from San Francisco already know someone in this category. This is the guy who somehow manages to take every single conversation and relate it to a ‘cool’ app he just found or some app that should be created.

I get it. There are lots of apps. Let’s put the phone down for a second and enjoy a natural, spontaneous conversation about something other than apps…

C Finch
C Finch
2 years 8 months ago
This one may be covered under “The Rambler” — I know three people who do it: They go on and on and on, connecting their every sentence and thought w/a long, drawn-out, sing-songy “and,” a “but,” or an “er/uh/mmmm” while you look for a place to jump in,. You can’t get even a second of “free” time to say something to get away from the conversation! I’ve actually walked away (with a smile and wave) from one of these people a few times! Once someone who knows what’s happening sees you stuck with one of these folks, they avoid coming… Read more »
Rich
2 years 8 months ago
Okay, for people who don’t stop talking — the key is the CHANGE THE ENERGY. 1. Take out your keys, maybe give them an idle jingle — the sound of keys can have amazing effects on peoples’ energies…. 2. Pick up your bag and make physical cues that a transition is about to happen. 3. Set up a pre-arranged signal — I have a canned text I send my hubby, and it means he needs to call me and act like an annoyed boss when I’m a day overdue with an important report. Extricating yourself isn’t easy — it’s hard!… Read more »
Roseann
Roseann
2 years 8 months ago

To escape the extreme rambler: “excuse me, I really need to use the restroom. Do you know where it is?” That forces them to stop talking about whatever topic they’re rambling about and answer your question. In that moment, you can slip away, easily calling back “thanks” over your shoulder.

Bob
Bob
2 years 8 months ago

There is the “Contrarian.” Whatever you say, they will disagree and take the opposite stand. Just an attempt to appear to be smart. I know, because I used to be one, and it’s taken work to stop doing this. How ironic is it that I now work with one. I never realized how annoying I had been!

CJ
CJ
2 years 7 months ago

Related to this one is the opinion expert… we have one in our office.

He has an opinion on everything – usually negative. If you disagree, he’ll argue his point until you admit he’s right. The best is when he’ll argue why a movie is terrible and someone will ask – well have you seen it?

No. Of course not. But that doesn’t stop his opinion from being the one that’s right!

MaryLouise
MaryLouise
2 years 8 months ago
OMG…I have a list….lol 1) People who not only monopolize the conversation, but tell you stories that leave you wondering, “How does this pertain to anything we are talking about?” This was the case recently with a family member and his wife regarding an issue going on between them and another family member. The wife had me on the phone for 3 hours (!!!) and was just rambling on without any chance for me to contribute to the conversation. And just when I thought the conversation was over, there was another story that didn’t seem to have anything to do… Read more »
Erick
Erick
2 years 8 months ago
The Know It All It’s not just that they know everything about one topic they have something to add to every conversation. You comment about something and they may make a statement like “oh I read about that in such and such magazine blah blah blah ” and that makes then an expert ? The reason I bring this up is it used to be me and I still struggle with it a little bit but I have figured out that if I catch that impulse to immediately make a statement and instead ask 1 question and then listen to… Read more »
Dayton Segard
Dayton Segard
2 years 8 months ago

The Devil’s Advocate: No matter what idea is proposed, the Devil’s Advocate tries to punch holes in it. They don’t present a better solution, they just try to tear down your idea because they enjoy finding the flaws in things. It’s not that they’re wrong, they’re just assholes.

(That said, this can be a VERY useful conversational tactic when spit-balling a startup idea, but the technique should be used specifically for testing the validity of an idea. And even then, one should be aware that the soft-skinned may see it as a personal affront rather than an debate tactic.)

Shanae
2 years 8 months ago
I used to suffer from this tendency a good chunk of my life. Mostly because I couldn’t handle people saying things matter-of-factly, when they were obviously opinion statements. Even if I agreed with them from my own perspective, if they said something as if it was the absolute, I just couldn’t handle it. I had to introduce another possible truth. Then I went to college, and met my best friends, who were twins, and both Devils Advocates… I even lived with them for a year, and it was double the pain in the ass. Strangely enough, I moved to another… Read more »
Bill Ravenscraft
Bill Ravenscraft
2 years 7 months ago

Dayton,
I’ve found that asking the “devil’s advocate” to provide examples of how we address the scenario they just presented to be quite effective in either a) engaging them in developing solutions and mitigating risk (after all, they may have a point!), or b) reducing their negative feedback which might be squashing other creative ideas.

Doug
Doug
2 years 8 months ago

The rambler, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqcH63N-BOU
You have to watch the whole thing, really listen to the guy. Hilarious.

Shanae
2 years 8 months ago
The Complainer… Seems to be a common trait in my family and found in the multitudes most places I have worked. Doesn’t matter if they just won a prize, the sun is shining, or they literally just got a blow job, these folks are down to complain. What about? ANYTHING!: Other people, their job, the house, the copy machine, the pets, the kids, their parents, their bad back, the president… anything! I feel like I am solution oriented, and friends also find this annoying, especially if they are the Complainer. When people complain, I think “well what can we do… Read more »
MIke
MIke
2 years 8 months ago
When dealing with couples, beware what I call the “Divide and Conquer” routine. I once had to photograph an elderly couple for a magazine article, and the assistant editor came along for the trip. We needed a few photos of the couple, needed to look at some old photos they had, then get out and be somewhere else. But when we were trying to get out the door, the old guy was talking to me while the old lady was talking to my cohort, two separate conversations. Every time I saw daylight, I looked over, only to see my partner… Read more »
Beth Bridges
2 years 7 months ago

It is a tough situation!

I think it’s okay to tell someone, “I’m very sorry to interrupt you, but I really have to go. It was nice meeting you and I wish you well/have a good weekend/enjoy your day.”

If they start talking again, give them a minute and then repeat yourself: “I’m really sorry to have to interrupt you, but I must get going… ” I find that an arm touch helps soften it and gets their attention.

I’ve had to do this three or four times with people. It’s not brutal. It’s just honest 🙂

abby
abby
2 years 8 months ago
The Social Climber You’re having an enjoyable conversation with someone. There’s back and forth. It’s not all about you or them. You’re probably talking about work and your respective roles. No red flags *except*… Their eyes keep drifting over your shoulder. They catch the end of your sentences but only after they step back to scan left/right. You ask if you’re boring them and they act all surprised. Eventually you realize they are a Social Climber. They have processed your money/power/status respective to theirs and are only talking to you until they find someone more important/better looking/wealthier/etc. to talk to.… Read more »
Jessie
2 years 8 months ago

The impatient interrupter. You will be talking to these people and in the middle of your sentence, they say “uh huh”, “un huh”, and so you start to speed up and try to get to the point thinking maybe you are boring, or, perhaps they already know what I am going to say. Finally you decide they must be in a hurry, so you stop talking and then they start… and never stop! Maybe it’s just another behavior of the coversational narcissist that Alicia so aptly named!

Drew
Drew
2 years 8 months ago

The Interrupter – Has to get their piece in while you’re still talking. I have met a few people like that do this frequently. It’s often not intentionally rude, but it can happen with easily excitable people.

Nina
Nina
2 years 8 months ago
There is the other side of this too, people who open conversations with being confrontational (“Hi, you look lonely / bored / new to this this”) and then expect you to not feel self-concious and even be thankful for their ‘rescue’. It is hard to be a good conversation partner when you start off like that. Sometimes though, it turns out that the person saying it actually feels or has felt like that too and simply doesn’t know any better. So I try not to initially pass judgement until I know what sort of person I am dealing with. And… Read more »
Lukas
Lukas
2 years 8 months ago

People who don’t manage to filter their information for the person they are talking to drive me nuts! I am a business guy that works in tech & online media. Often it are techies who stay on topic (other than the Rambler) but just go into sooo much detail — although I only asked for a simple yes/no answer or an opinion on something. I always feel awkward cutting them off after while. And then I get angry inside because I know that they should be the ones feeling awkward.

Patrick
Patrick
2 years 7 months ago

Lukas, as a techie I can tell you: there is never a simple answer, it always depends.

I have learned long ago that whenever I make an assumption, I’m probably wrong. I will give you multiple options to consider, because they all have drawbacks and you know better than me what the most acceptable balance is.

People who know technology *and* know your assumptions *and* have the guts to make decisions based on those, can command several times the salary of people who don’t. They’re that rare.

Oh, and people who can only think in black and white drive me nuts. 😉

Sarah
Sarah
2 years 8 months ago

The TMI giver? My favorite example would be Liz from Rules of Engagement. “My cat just coughed up a hairball that looks like George WASHINGTON.” over dinner. Ew. What do you say to that.

Michelle
Michelle
2 years 8 months ago

The Subject Changer

They ask you about your weekend, and in the middle of your response they interrupt to tell you about the great restaurant they went to. Or they have a text message that they just have to tap out while you’re talking.

Why start a conversation if you’re going to immediately back out of it?

Kelly
Kelly
2 years 8 months ago
The Over-Sharer (often in conjunction with The Rambler) Random person at the grocery store or someone you just met at a social event – doesn’t matter. They’ll tell you EVERYTHING about their life. In detail. Horrifying detail. I once went to a workshop and met up with someone also attending (we were early) and she instantly went into graphic detail about her health problems. She went on and on for a good twenty minutes minimum. I got more and more horrified when she finally finished, looked at me expectantly, and asked, “What about you? What are your health problems?” Seriously?… Read more »
Brent
Brent
2 years 8 months ago

The Deppressant:

Similar to Shanae’s The Complainer, but even more negative. I will admit, I occasionally complain to friends, though I try not to. But I think you can complain in a funny, lighthearted way. The Depressant just sucks all the oxygen out of the room. They have a ver defeatist attitude that the fates are plotting against them and there’s no way to ever win at anything. Those are the people that I can’t spend 5 minutes around without looking for a razor blade…

Johnny
Johnny
2 years 8 months ago

The Data Miner:

You’re at a bar and someone asks you what you do (but not how you are doing). Like the social climber, the conversation is more like an interview. Unlike the social climber, the data miner is determined to get any information they can, as if filling a data sheet, saving the last question, “what’s you’re number”, for when you’re leaving.

Scott
Scott
2 years 8 months ago

The Blamer. Every bad thing that has happened to them is someone’s fault.
The Whipping Boy. Every bad thing that has ever happened in the world is their fault. Teflon Tommy. Nothing sticks to them. They have never been responsible for any less than perfect outcome. Mr. Worldly Wisdom. There’s no place or thing you can think of where he hasn’t been there or done that.

Shanae
2 years 8 months ago

This one is especially annoying! This person is usually the one who is chronically injured or ill, so they have a perpetual excuse.

Sarah B
2 years 8 months ago

The Gossip.
Has something to say about everybody and it’s all really mean, nasty and negative. Makes you sympathetic to everyone who has ever had contact with this person.

The Victim.
A subspecies of The Rambler and close cousin to Kelly’s Over-Sharer. Can’t stop talking and it’s all about how mistreated s/he has been by job, spouse, ex-spouse, doctors, children, etc. You start off sympathetic to them and can easily get drawn into their drama but pretty soon you realize that they will never do anything proactive or positive to change things. Ever.

Marcy
Marcy
2 years 8 months ago

How about adding The Victim to the list? This is the person who complains about their job, apartment, car, relationship, etc. Then asks what you would do in their situation. When you offer a variety of suggestions, each one is shot down with words like “that won’t work”, “you don’t know what it’s like”, or “I can’t do that”. Why bother asking in the first place? You have two choices – either let the person ramble with only minimal responses (hmm, really, wow) or find a graceful exit.

Jeannine
Jeannine
2 years 8 months ago
I have two new ones: “Gloom, Despair, and Agony are We” takes every opportunity to bitch and moan about “kids today” and how the whole damned world is going to hell in a hand basket because children have no morals, no respect, their parents won’t beat them and they have computers of all things. This weekend I got cornered by one of these and she ranted about how kids today have Barbie dolls when all she had for a plaything was a sock covered Coke bottle. That was a millennium ago, get a grip and move on. “Hey We’re Both… Read more »
J
J
2 years 8 months ago

The Inserter, 2 scenarios:

1) You are standing there having a conversation with someone, and they just walk up and invite themselves to join in and start talking about whatever you are talking about.

2) You are having a conversation with someone and they are lingering close by, listening to what you are saying. If something interesting comes up, or they decide they need to know what or who you are talking about, they will jump in with a question or jump and insert themselves into the conversation.

YYD
YYD
2 years 7 months ago

This is very low on the list of social weirdness. How else are people going to try to mingle at social events if they can’t try to introduce themselves without being rude or having a way into the conversation by speaking about your topic? If you’re the kind of person who looks down on ‘Inserters’ and don’t like more opinions/views in a discussion, then you are very clique-y.

Keith Williams
2 years 8 months ago
I’d add the Silence-Fearer. This person believes that silence in a conversation is a sign of low intelligence, so looks to fill any natural pauses with noise. This usually manifests itself as an instant response to another’s line. You can see the wheels turning in the Silence-Fearer’s head as she seeks the next witty one-liner, which may or may not be germane to the topic at hand. What’s frustrating is that instead of listening and comprehending what you have to say, she’s lining up her next quip – and you can tell. Sometimes the Silence-Fearer will even speak over the… Read more »
Vanesa
Vanesa
2 years 8 months ago

Yes, the Silence Fearer! I know what you mean!

Auntie Em
Auntie Em
2 years 8 months ago

It’s all about me, me, me, and when the other person catches a break and says something about themselves, there is a slight pause, the ME person says, “Oh,” another slight pause and then they’re off and running with more about me.

Vanesa
Vanesa
2 years 8 months ago
This is a great post and came in handy at the perfect time in my life. I just started seeing this guy who I started off really liking but he has progressively been getting more and more on my nerves. He constantly talks about all the amazing things he does, never asks me about my life, and is very opinionated. I too am opinionated but I enjoy hearing the opinions of others and love the back and forth of conversation; this guy, however, has shut me down every single time that I have voiced an opinion — even if the… Read more »
Kim
Kim
2 years 7 months ago

He may be a Gaslighter. Run for your life. He will destroy you.

Simi
Simi
2 years 7 months ago

I don’t know what I’d call him, but if I were you, I’d run far, far away.

Vanesa
Vanesa
2 years 8 months ago

The Over-explaining Apologizer: They have such difficulty saying no to something that when they have to do it they try to make up for it by over-explaining their reasons meanwhile you just want a straight answer.

Akash
Akash
2 years 7 months ago
The Perpetual Criticizer / I-know-better The name says it all, he/she knows better than everyone else, including you poor bastard giving him/her attention, the ins and outs of the problems happening everywhere in the organisation that’s paying his/her salary. They are somehow oblivious as to their negative behaviour that’s feeding all reasons for negating themselves any promotion… The Eternal Victim Again, he/she is the reincarnation of Droopy in human form. As if they have been born with a concentration of bad luck, and all forms of negative-sounding “isms” to afflict their poor existence. Even nodding to them in a conversation… Read more »
Akash
Akash
2 years 7 months ago

Man!
The 3 points I had to contribute end up here, and what a coincidence, I happen to fall into the “Over-Explaining Apologizer” type… 🙁

Mary
2 years 8 months ago

It’s hard when you have one of these in your family. My mother is a rambler, doesn’t like any pauses in conversations. The thing with friends and family members is that you tend to hear the same stories repeated over and over.
As a mom I’ve definitely seen my share of One Uppers. They leave you feeling like you and/or your kids are inadequate failures.
It’s easy to get carried away in self absorption during a conversation. I’m trying to do a better job of asking others about what’s going on with them.

Roxanna
Roxanna
2 years 8 months ago

The easily offended type.

Ex.

“Hey Jim, goodmorning.”

“Oh so it’s good morning now huh? Every day it’s ‘great morning’ but today only good morning! You have some sort of problem with me? What, you don’t like my haircut? I’m not good enough for great morning anymore? I work just as hard as anybody here!!!”

Um yeah . . . How do you get out of these situations? Responding just creates a vortex where apologies go to die.

ThOmas
ThOmas
2 years 7 months ago

Hahaha, I’ve never bumped into one of these before, I’d probably just start laughing. It sounds like something someone would say sarcastically as a joke.

Jessica
Jessica
2 years 8 months ago
The Oblivious. The Oblivious are oblivious to body language and all forms of humor except for low-brow toilet humor. They will keep talking long after your eyes glaze over, arms are crossed, and body has been oriented away but haven’t quite managed to escape. (This might happen more to women since we’ve all been gently reared to be unfailingly polite even though we’re screaming inside.) The only silver lining is that they will miss all of your subtle and sarcastic jabs (or pointed indifference) at whatever they’re saying and will probably still think well of you after you make your… Read more »
Patrick
Patrick
2 years 7 months ago

Jessica, as a man, I am this type. 😉 And the autism probably doesn’t help too.

What’s ironic though is that most people don’t take the hint to be less subtle.

ps. Are you sure what you consider polite, is the same for the other person? If you have your shirt on inside out, is it more polite to call it out, or let you walk around with it for the rest of the day?

Jean F
Jean F
2 years 8 months ago
Got To Be the Winner These people insist their view of the world, religion, politics, whatever is the one true way. They are not interested in alternate opinions or scientific evidence because they don’t think their ideas are opinions. I have one dear friend who is like this. I have learned to avoid a large number of topics with him (and trust me, the facts contradict his views in many cases). Instead we agree to disagree. Without this agreement, I could not spend time with him. Another version of this is something I see sometimes in couples in dysfunctional relationships.… Read more »
Dee
Dee
2 years 8 months ago

The Death and Dismemberment Reporter always wants to tell you horrible things that have happened to other people, even if you don’t know these other people at all. Why would I want to hear all about someone’s horrific health issue (or other misfortune) that I don’t even know? They also read the obits daily so that they can spread the word about who died. You need to be a master deflector in order to keep this type from bringing you down.

Owen
Owen
2 years 8 months ago

The Unable to Focus guy.

I admit that I have been this guy. The one who starts to tell a story and gets so side tracked into other stories that he forgets the point that he was going to make. Alcohol seems to be the culprit with me, for some reason drunk me is FULL of stories… and vomit.

Mabel
Mabel
2 years 8 months ago

the “personal agenda” people. People that are blatantly converse with you just get information out of you. These people usually reek of “self-interest” and the conversation feels like an inquisition. They usually bombard you with questions that does not show interest in you as a person.

Andrew
Andrew
2 years 8 months ago
The Single Pointer and the Obvious Pointer. Often the same person. He/She will take one small (and usually obvious) part of what you say and talk about it for 5 minutes in an annoyingly parental tone. For example, “I was feeling demotivated and couldn’t get projects finished, but now I -” “Well you need to buckle down. Just do it. You know Nike? Have you heard their slogan? Just do it? That what you need to do. Because, you know, you won’t get anywhere unless you just buckle down. And DO things. Nothing comes easy, you just have to DO… Read more »
Andrew
Andrew
2 years 8 months ago
The AllAboutMe, the small sample AllAboutMe and the ninja AllAboutMe #1: “It must be nice to be tall. Women like tall men, they don’t like me”. #2: “Women don’t like shaved heads. My 4 year old daughter touched my head once and said ewww. See, women don’t like shaved heads.” (true conversation!) #3: I talked to coworker #1 about the kinds of trees in her backyard. Coworker #2 walked by and interjected, “Trees? I was telling my boyfriend we should plant some trees. He got into a fight with his niece about how she was doing in school and later… Read more »
Yvette J
Yvette J
2 years 8 months ago
Brent, Kelly & Abby.. Lol! God these make for good reading and I love their examples… But If you flipped each of these to a positive, believing that these people were in fact genuine.. A can opens up! Could they be?… The overshare- can also be the meaningful heart to heart you randomly exchange with the old lady down the street, bringing you a small sense of community. The social climber- can be the person who’s in fact a little insecure and maybe hasn’t got many friends, so they may come across as shifty and aloof. And the depressant –… Read more »
Andrew
Andrew
2 years 8 months ago

Bill’s “The Joker” archetype is annoying too… especially when the smile and energy are really fake.

The Person Who Assumes That As A Man, We should Bond over Very Loud and Jolly Commentary On The Physical Appearance and Preferences of Women Nearby, accompanied by illustrative hand mimicry of body parts. If I had the power of invisibility, I’d have discovered it already.

Repeat of the above, but also add racist stereotypes if the woman is of different ethnicity/background than either of us. I already assume what you’re saying about my ethnicity behind my back too, “buddy”.

John Corcoran
2 years 8 months ago

I can’t stand The Proselytizer. The person who is constantly trying to convince you to join their cause. It’s not always religion – it could be political views, or American Idol, or the right brand of beer, or whatever. Let’s all just agree we’re not always going to see eye-to-eye on everything.

Taylor
Taylor
2 years 8 months ago
The TMI Talker. I try to cultivate an open and honest conversational style. Banter tires me pretty quickly, unless it’s a quick back-and-forth. However, I wonder sometimes if my encouragement of honest communication leads people to divulge too much, too quickly. For example, while courting a job a bit ago, I walked into my first of four interviews that day with a charming late 30s early 40s woman. By the end of the first 15 minutes, I knew that: -She was recently divorced; -She was having trouble affording her house; and -Her pet was a foundation of her emotional support.… Read more »
Kim
Kim
2 years 7 months ago

Women will sell their first-born to have a man care about their life story. I know, for it is my life quest.

Diana
Diana
2 years 8 months ago
People tend to rove in and out of these types depending on the level/type of connection to a person they’re speaking to. Not sure if it was mentioned, but how about The Relator. NO MATTER WHAT story, personal, third person, or otherwise, this person will interject with their story/fact of the day they relates to what you were saying. It could be the third cousin twice removed of their recently reunited childhood friend from a small town in Iowa…they find a way to weave themselves into YOUR story, to bring the focus back to them (not their relation to you).… Read more »
Cindy
Cindy
2 years 8 months ago
#1 The Divider – a bit like Mike’s “Divide and Conquer” but usually this is a solo act. This person takes what could easily be a single conversation, often at a dinner party, lures one person away from the main group and starts a sub-conversation. This tactic often involves back turning and hushed talking. #2 The Looking for Someone Better-er – this is the person who, instead of making eye contact, is constantly looking over your left shoulder to see if someone better might be coming their way. #3 The Close Talker – this person gets close, way too close.… Read more »
Steve
Steve
2 years 8 months ago
The Compulsive Liar – similar to the one upper, but strings together multiple stories that always one up another person’s story and the math never adds up for age and amount of time needed to accomplish such stories. Solution – if it’s a skill they say they have (i.e. “I’m an awesome guitar player”), give them an opportunity to prove it. Question the facts and time frame of the story. Ignore person and move on. Life of the Party – has about 30 seconds to pretend to be interested in anyone to create the illusion of social proof and avoid… Read more »
Michael Kruse
Michael Kruse
2 years 8 months ago

The guy that always has to be right. Me: “Dude, this fortran code has some problem with it”. Them: “You should have done it like this [complicated math not relevant to situation]”. Me: “this new tablet from Microsoft is a beast”, them: “it’s a piece of crap, it has no 3d graphics, why would you buy that. The [random brand] is so much better…”

TC
TC
2 years 8 months ago
Similar to the One-Word-Answer-Giver, how about the person who only briefly answers your questions about herself but doesn’t seem to care enough to ask anything about you in return? I hung out with a friend and his high school cousin once when they were in town, and his cousin was either painfully shy or not interested in our conversation. I asked her some questions about herself to make her feel included and she would answer them but never ask me anything. And she wouldn’t even try joining our conversation, and instead texted on her phone. I suspect she was just… Read more »
Matt
Matt
2 years 7 months ago

The Verbal Ticker
Some people have verbal tics that are so overpowering it doesn’t matter what else they say. I once knew someone who said “kinda like” in every sentence, literally, and it was unbearable. You just sink into paralysis, waiting in dread for the tic to come out, yet again, and the verbal ticker always delivers.

Jesus Garcia-Parrado
Jesus Garcia-Parrado
2 years 7 months ago

In my case, I was trying to add value to someone that doesn’t need it but still happy with my performance, so he don’t want to offend me (he: talk and talk) but there are no conclusions (me: lack of value added).

Maybe one thing can help is to make clear before the meeting which are your concerns or doubts, be very specific, and the most important thing, be ready for the possible answers.

If you can end up with just a single conclusion is a great win!

hope it helps.

Best!

Fran
Fran
2 years 7 months ago

OK Ramit all very amusing, but what if you recognise yourself as one of the proponents in your three scenarios? Surely the bigger challenge is to help them, rather than finding ways of escaping from them.

Jenn
Jenn
2 years 7 months ago
After offering one the other day, I realized I should ‘fess up and admit one of my own: I am the Sentence Ender. I started doing it years ago out of feeling socially awkward in conversations — if someone is searching for a word or something, I’ll fill it in. I always thought it was a great skill because it showed I was listening to the person and was in tune with them. Now I’m realizing that it’s pretty annoying, and that people just want to finish their sentence without me butting in. I’m working on curbing it.
Christie
Christie
2 years 7 months ago

Ditto. I feel even more like an ass when I guess wrong. “Oh.”

ThOmas
ThOmas
2 years 7 months ago

Ahhh this one, I’ve been guilty of this I’d usually be right with the ending word. I’d do it in way that doesn’t seem to be coming from a place of trying to help them out in excitement in conversation. Maybe the person would be trying to remember something and I’d jokingly through out possible words they’re looking for.

Angie unduplicated
Angie unduplicated
2 years 7 months ago

Detail demon. No, I don’t want to know every item of attire worn by the subject of your narcissistic monologue, and the verbatim play-by-plays, especially IRT your relationsh1t, are unwelcome irritants.

Kim
Kim
2 years 7 months ago

The Devil’s Advocate. No matter what you say, they will argue the opposite, REGARDLESS of their actual opinion. Way to establish rapport, dude. And by the way, this might be the number one reason why I dump boyfriends.

Andrea
Andrea
2 years 7 months ago

The victim: the world is against me, all of these people have come together to conspire against me, I have no idea why everybody is out to do me wrong. They must be jealous or threatened by me. I have to be on the defense at all times including at work and school to be sure no one is trying to screw me over. I trust no one. I believe that I’m not truly appreciated for all my talents.

Raghavan
Raghavan
2 years 7 months ago
The Credit-seeker/appreciation seeker: I have seen this happen in an office environment more often and also sometimes outside of it in a social situation too. The credit-seeker looks for keywords in a conversation to bring up a totally unrelated subject that somehow glorifies them or presents them in a spotlight kind of situation so that it elicits instant appreciation or kudos from others in the group. For example: I knew this lady in my office who would barge into conversations upon hearing such a catchword and instantly jump at the opportunity to present something that gets her appreciation. In one… Read more »
Kyle Durigan
2 years 7 months ago
When I read this, I immediatley had flashbacks. The one word answers kill me when I am at work and dealing with the general public. It seems to just kill any sort of potential for a good relation. The One-upper, I have one at work as well.. needless to say, he has been labeled as so even though he is the most ignorant one out of our group. The rambler – almost a mother-in-law. Let’s just say, no matter how much of HER story I was able to repeat, she would continue and drop names that I have never heard… Read more »
Terry
Terry
2 years 7 months ago
1. The Duke This is one of those people who is either a time-traveler or just completely oblivious to how people are supposed to talk. They talk like they’re the Duke of Norway or something. These are real things one such Duke has said to me in real life: “I am Mark, the illustrious. I’m invincible yet unimposing simultaneously.” …WHO talks like that? And they really don’t even register that that doesn’t make them sound smart, it just makes them sound creepy. 2. The Braggart What’s most annoying about this person isn’t that they’re bragging, but that THEY think they’re… Read more »
keith
keith
2 years 7 months ago

One that I always seem to come across is the advice-giver. You ask them one specific thing about a topic, and they go off for an hour about everything they know about that topic. Then, if you try to say somethingor change the subject, they interrupt you and say something else! So annoying!
I just wanted to know if you like coke or Pepsi, not how you would run a sandwich shop in a new-age-heavy area… (Real life example. Happened last night at work, of all places)

Meg
Meg
2 years 7 months ago
The Multi-Tasker He or she does multiple things over the course of the conversation because they are so good at “multi-tasking” and yet later they can’t remember large parts of the conversation The I,Phone A subset of the multi-tasker. I am encouraged to continue my conversation with them, even though they’ve missed the last two questions I’ve asked them, in an effort to engage them in REAL conversation, and even though it is clear they’d rather just be off in a corner with their phone. “No really, keep talking; I’m just texting and responding to email. No, really, I heard… Read more »
Christie
Christie
2 years 7 months ago

Ah, new mom one-uppers. My mom calls what they do “oneupsmomship.”

Michelle
Michelle
2 years 7 months ago
Hey Ramit, I actually think you are way off the mark in these assessments. Not the response, though- you do want a solid way to extricate from these situations regardless. In #1, I’ve been in the woman’s position many times. It happens when a (usually male, usually drunk) friend of mine assumes I am being shy when in fact I have my own reasons for not being as outgoing as they’d like. Often this includes my friend misinterpreting a passing comment about a stranger. For #2, I think most of the people you describe as one-uppers are just folks finding… Read more »
Musa @ My Personal Finance Journey

Thank you very much for this “nail on the head” analysis. More often than not, I hate the one-word-one-answer giver who practices the economy of words as if we have a professional questionnaire.

Beth Bridges
2 years 7 months ago
“I Let You Talk, But Hear Nothing You Say” From one perspective, it sounds like a real conversation. They say something, you say something. Back and forth. But their end of the conversation has nothing to do with what you said. Absolutely no engagement. You: “Hi, nice to meet you. My name is …” Them: “I’m Bob. I do this this and this in my business.” You: “Oh? That’s interesting. I’m in this somewhat related business.” Them: “We recently expanded our product line to include this and this.” You: “I see. How long have you been in business?” Them: “Let… Read more »
Nicky
Nicky
2 years 7 months ago

The prepared-pitch-giver. Be it religious, buisness, or whatever, the only reason they are talking to you is to promote themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been friendly to a stranger only to receive a prepared shpiel about make-up or Jesus. Both have a place in my life, but when I can tell that the person doesn’t even care about me I feel used and worthless.

Rod
2 years 7 months ago

Oh man!!! I just came out of meeting today where one of everyone described in this post attended..it was brutal. We still don’t know who to have a conversation without going overboard or not going far enough…

Anna
Anna
2 years 7 months ago

Oh my gosh, these awkward situations are the worst! I came across one the other day, who I’ll call the ” oblivious observer”

Guy comes into my house to drop something off. He looks outside and sees my dog who is napping in the shade.

“Oh”, he says, “your dog is lazy”
“Uhh, yeah, she is pretty old, so…”

He didn’t seem to notice that his opening line had made me uncomfortable.

Tahnya Kristina
2 years 7 months ago

I work with a guy who is SOOOOO incredibly socially awkward I really can’t stand to be around him. His uncomfortable laugh makes me want to poke my eyes out and his creepy silent stare (because he rarely talks to people) makes me want to punch him in the face. If you don’t like people then my advice is to stay away from people – plain and simple.

Philip
Philip
2 years 7 months ago

A group of One-Uppers in action, courtesy of Monty Python.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13JK5kChbRw

L Rob
2 years 7 months ago
The Rambler/Complainer/Know-It-All. Arrgggh! Imagine having all that in one person! I have the misfortune of having someone like that at work. This person thinks that his everyday life is so worth sharing the minute he gets in the office. He would also start rambling about something even if no one is listening, expecting people’s attention to perk up the minute he starts talking about the traffic he encountered on the way to work Apparently, a lot of people hates this type. I should know. No one listens to him anymore. Everyone pretends to not hear anything! Or just changes the… Read more »
ANCarter
ANCarter
2 years 7 months ago
There are the one’s who are just totally “Self Involved & Like to Hear Their Own Voice”… In every conversation, whatever the topic, they know of and/or have experienced a bigger, better, more interesting or humorous situation and are eager to share. They must top all conversations, so they have the final word or laugh. They have the answer for everything, even if it means completely talking out of their a$$; like telling me the best solution for a situation, when I myself told them the exact same thing, only a few days prior. Or persist on recommending I take… Read more »
Deb
Deb
2 years 7 months ago

TMI (too much information)
I worked with a chap who could never just answer a simple question. He expounded in great technical detail every facet of every possible solution. It would go on and on until you wanted to just set yourself on fire to escape him. He earned the nickname TMI.

Steven Le
2 years 7 months ago

‘The Interrupter – Has to get their piece in while you’re still talking. I have met a few people like that do this frequently. It’s often not intentionally rude, but it can happen with easily excitable people.’

I swear I’m surrounded by an office of people like this. I’ve decided to just not speak anymore! Imagine starting a sentence and having a bunch of other people all cut in, without realising that sentence hasn’t finished! Every time! The misery…

st
st
2 years 7 months ago
I read a selective list of blogs like once in 2-3 months… IWT is on that list and Ramit & his audience never disappoint. Have read each and every response of this post – so many interesting stories! Bookmarked. 2 archetypes i’ve personally played in the past: – The Mute Girl » stemmed from a lot of bullying i faced growing up. Later in life, it got in the way of how i made connections & why even today I’m very careful about who’s in my “inner circle” – The Under-appreciated Over-doer » the typical “nice/classy” training that our parents… Read more »
ThOmas
ThOmas
2 years 7 months ago
Hahaha the one-word-answer’s. As a pretty social person I’ve always wondered if I was maybe somehow hijacking the conversation or if I did something wrong by checking myself first and I found that some people just don’t give much in conversation. I guess its and introvert thing or maybe the other people just don’t know it. Its weird and when I try extend the conversation I’d go into topics I personally find interesting to see if maybe I might bump into something they find interesting, but no, it doesn’t happen with these people. I have admit, I’ve had some Rambling… Read more »
M.C. Ward
2 years 7 months ago
Oh gawd, one-uppers are the worst. Their central problem is that they don’t understand the concept of non-sequiturs and rhetorical statements. Someone will say, “I’m so tired today,” because that is just at thing that people say, but then the one-upper has to jump in with their stories of hardship. “Tired? Let me tell you about being tired. Try working three jobs, going to night school, and training for an ultra-marathon while writing the Great American Novel in your one free hour a day, like I did. Then you’ll know what being tired feels like!” And Ramit is right; if… Read more »
Yanni Raz
2 years 7 months ago

The Ramblers, they think their lives are so important that we should know every aspect of their lives in as little time as possible, whether we are interested or not. I have better things to think about or do, go blog about your life and get it out of your system.

Sheridan
2 years 7 months ago

The Completer. These are the people who know what you are about to say next (with varying degrees of success) and jump right in to complete your sentence for you. “I’m craving a burrito so I’m going…” “to Chipotle, yeah! I love that place.”

Yes
Yes
2 years 7 months ago

I thought the archetypes described here were interesting and definitely people I have encountered before. Also I love everyone’s contributions. Going through them, I feel like I’ve committed some of these awkward acts of communication. Usually it’s with my own friends though. Do you think that’s still a problem if its in a personal situation and not a professional one?

Yes
Yes
2 years 7 months ago

I just read the post how to “Why you should give more than you get”
I think that is awesome. Often people are focused on how they can get the most out of people instead of how they can benefit others. This is not only great because it makes you a valuable asset, studies actually show that displaying gratitude contributes to happiness. I just wanted to throw that out there because I happened on a psychology article talking about that and how it relates.

Yes
Yes
2 years 7 months ago

Sorry to over comment. I really like the post about choosing your passion.
This is a problem I face daily. I’m an incredibly indecisive person. I am majoring in Business, Marketing and Psychology so I feel like I have a multitude of dirctions I can go in. It’s overwhelming to me. I think this is good advice that I should look into.

Amber
2 years 7 months ago

Those one-uppers…. I get annoyed when other people try and discredit someone else by trying to one-up them. I’ve never seen the point in doing that unless your trying to wear a label on your forehead that says “Look at me everyone, I’m desperate for attention and approval!”.

Randy Chang
2 years 7 months ago

This is a great post. I can relate to your experiences. Especially the one-word respondents. It’s like pulling teeth trying to have a conversation with those types of people!

Jordan M
2 years 7 months ago

I laughed out loud when I read your section on one-word givers. “Why am I here?”, “Is gravity real?”, loved it! I’ve had the ‘What am I doing with my life’ situation in my mind a few times dealing with those types of characters.

Josh R.
2 years 7 months ago

I have come in contact with the I,I,I Syndrome a few times before. It’s really bad when you get stuck on a plane sitting next to one. Ramblers are another breed that would be detrimental to a much needed nap on the plane.

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Sumil
Sumil
2 years 7 months ago
A few things I think you’re missing. The person who treats the one they’re speaking to as though they didn’t have any complex, sensitive backstory of their own. This may reify in them casually using the word “fag”, without qualification, in a story to which it adds nothing. Perhaps worse, they may flippantly make reference to suicide in a light-hearted manner, e.g. “so you look for ways to kill yourself”. [How the hell do you talk like that, and expect people with relatives who have committed suicide to form deep connections with you?] The person who cautiously adds subtle grace-notes… Read more »
Sara
Sara
6 months 22 days ago

I really liked your post and the fact that it was allowed probably proved a point. If u can help with the answer to my question I posted at the end of thread I’d be grateful 🙂

Marsha from YesYesMarsha.com
2 years 7 months ago

OH MY GOD LOVED. THIS. SO. MUCH.

Sorry for shouting, but you’ve just made my night.

Another for the list: Mr Unaware Of Your Personal Space.

In fact, the Mr UOYPS that I met earlier was also a combination of your three archetypes – tried to impress and one-up, gave semi-rambling answers that then just stopped dead into awkward silence. As an added bonus, he ended our conversation by saying, “By the way, I’m really good with my tongue”. I’m not even joking.

Martin
Martin
2 years 7 months ago
Oh boy, I can cross off which of those I did / do. Had my fair share of experiences with Ramblers, and various kinds of Narcissists. One particularly unproductive meeting took a whole weekend, with me and others flying to a neighbouring country only to listen to the Rambler for two days and doing very little discussion of the issues. He would also answer simple questions with lengthy rants like in the Coke/Pepsi example above (while pointing out that the choice was obvious anyone choosing differently was wrong and stupid.) The more shocking part came when I seemed to be… Read more »
Delilah
Delilah
9 months 23 days ago

From this article and the comments, people can sure get their panties in a bunch over anything and everything. Everyone comes with a different set of skills. Not everyone drives well. Not everyone is a brain surgeon. Learn to get along and tolerate each one another’s differences, starting with what you say to yourselves.

Sara
Sara
6 months 22 days ago
I have a comment about women who monopolise conversation and attention when men are around. I don’t mean someone who rambles or is socially inept at talking, but women who appear gregarious they can talk fir England so to speak and are constantly talking about this that and everything they have done, or want to do or in a round about way just his interesting and basically brilliant they are! This specifically is aimed at guys so if there is a group of guys, and if there is a mixed group of males and females…. The guys and I mean… Read more »
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