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3 archetypes of social weirdos

Ramit Sethi

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.”

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?”


Uh, ok.

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.”


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.

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  1. avatar
    3 archetypes of social weirdos | Enjoying The Moment

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

  2. avatar

    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.

  3. avatar

    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.

  4. avatar

    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 volunteers information about herself throughout this (you would think someone who does this would want to turn the conversation back to herself)… she controls the conversation, but doesn’t participate.

  5. avatar

    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.

  6. avatar

    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, so they always refer back to their chosen topics.

  7. avatar
    Kelvin Kao

    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.

  8. avatar

    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?

  9. avatar

    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.

  10. avatar

    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?

  11. avatar

    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.

  12. avatar

    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.

  13. avatar

    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…

  14. avatar

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

  15. avatar
    C Finch

    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 over and may even give you a sympathetic look!

  16. avatar

    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! But you can be clever. It’s about cues and body language — you will NEVER be able to conversationally steer this. It’s what makes sticky people sticky… they’re masters at continuing the conversation.

  17. avatar

    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!

  18. avatar

    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 with the current issue at hand. I know she was probably venting but it wasn’t until the end of the conversation that I was able to really speak and even get interest in how I was doing.

    2) People call you to vent or ask for advice, etc. and they do not ask how you are doing. Like you are a servant at their disposal for whatever they need from you. This happened to my older brother recently. My younger brother called to ask him for money and did not ask him how he was doing or what’s been going on in his life.

    3) The person who will ask you question after question—almost as if they are interviewing you. But some of the questions are inappropriate or none of their business. And the ones you do answer are judged. They’ll ask, “Well, why did you do that?”, “You should have done this—-“, “That/You/Whatever you said/did is wrong”, etc. They act very authoritative and emotional about what they think you’re doing/saying incorrectly. My experience has been annoying co-workers and service industry people such as estheticians and hairdressers. I go get facials and hair services to relax….not be grilled about my life and my shortcomings.

    4) People who try to interject themselves in a conversation no one invited them to participate in. They usually are hanging around a group of people and will interrupt with a joke or some know-it-all remark that have no right to make because they have zero knowledge or limited knowledge on the subject. And if you correct them, they get very indignant and try to make you look foolish. They succeed only in making themselves foolish. I do not speak to my mother’s goddaughter because she is one of these people.

    5) People who just whine, complain and bitch…constantly. Nothing else is important except their “shitty” lot in life (like getting stuck in traffic, the bad weather, having to go to a doctor’s appointment, their membership in a organization they won’t get out of being a part of…the list goes on, lol). Banal issues that have nothing to do with real problems. I work with someone like this. She’s a vice president.

    My question is, Where are the “normal” people? LOL

  19. avatar

    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 the answer it goes a very long way towards make people want to talk to you instead of feeling like you are chasing down a conversation with some one because it’s too quite 🙂

  20. avatar
    Dayton Segard

    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.)

  21. avatar

    The rambler,
    You have to watch the whole thing, really listen to the guy. Hilarious.

  22. avatar

    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 to alleviate this issue?”

    And they are like, “Whaaa? You are not getting the point. I don’t want an escape route, if anything, I require more shit to bitch about. Don’t you understand me?”

    No… obviously not.

  23. avatar

    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 trapped. When SHE had an opening, the old guy had me in some story I couldn’t cut off. It probably took us a good 30 minutes to get coordinated and out the door.

    One of the things I explained to her when we were gone was “Don’t give the other person a response that will allow them to keep talking.” Just nod your head, or say “yeah,” or other one-word answers that in no way give them any opening to shift the conversation. And when they take a breath, that’s the time to say “Oh my God, look at the time, we’re late for our next appointment!” Sometimes you have to be brutal, but it’s OK when you know you’ll never see that person again.

  24. avatar

    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. Afterwards, it all makes sense. The conversation wasn’t about you or them–it was about whether you could do something for them. Most often found among insecure high performers.

    Sub-categories in the link:

  25. avatar

    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 city, and became best friends with a pair of twins once again, who have similar tendencies! The debates aren’t even quality or on track, they just had to point out the opposing view of everything…. Karma is a bitch.

  26. avatar

    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!

  27. avatar

    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.

  28. avatar

    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.

  29. avatar

    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.

  30. avatar

    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 avoid this opening line, as I don’t want others to feel bad in turn.

  31. avatar

    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.

  32. avatar

    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.

  33. avatar

    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?

  34. avatar

    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? And then I was stuck with her for another hour or more when she went into full-on Rambler mode combined with Over-Sharer. Shoot me.

  35. avatar

    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…

  36. avatar

    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.

  37. avatar

    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.

  38. avatar
    Sarah B

    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.

  39. avatar

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

  40. avatar

    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.

  41. avatar

    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 Caucasion So I Assume that You’re Racist Like Me”. I’m not. Don’t expect me to laugh at what you think are “subtle” racist jabs. The shrieking chimpanzee in a tie and glasses that you posted on FB with “Obama is happy it’s Friday”? Not funny. Using the word “wigger” instead of um, you know? Also not funny. Never going to be funny. Stop waiting on me to laugh. Sheesh, can’t a person be white without being racist too? Turns out that someone of us can.

  42. avatar

    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.

  43. avatar
    Keith Williams

    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 end of your thought so as not to allow a pause.

    Other times this fear will take the form of an elongated “um”, “eh”, or another filler sound when she’s not finished putting a thought into verbal form. Those in conversation with the Silence-Fearer are quickly turned off by the annoying, repetitive sound.

    In an attempt to not appear stupid through a break in speaking, the Silence-Fearer instead comes across as rude or, ironically, stupid.

  44. avatar
    Auntie Em

    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.

  45. avatar

    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 opinion wasn’t really in contradiction to his own opinion. The first couple of times it happened, I thought it was a fluke — he was just nervous or something but I now realize it has happened every time that I tried to talk about any subject that I had a particular knowledge or opinion about. One time he actually told me to shut up. I got really upset and he apologized so I thought it was just a joke taken too far but the last time I saw him something similar happened again — he actually started getting really upset and defensive when I gave my opinion on an issue he had asked me about! The weird thing too is that the reason I initially liked him was because of how friendly he was, I would have never expected him to have such horrible social manners.

    What would you call this? I think he is some type of Conversational Narcissist with some kind of major insecurity surrounding women. I’ve seen him interact with his friends and he is not like that.

  46. avatar

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

  47. avatar

    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.

  48. avatar

    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.

  49. avatar

    The easily offended type.


    “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.

  50. avatar

    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 getaway.

  51. avatar
    Jean F

    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. Someone has to win, to be right, all the time. They are not capable of my solution of agreeing to disagree or of deciding the topic is not important enough to fight about.

  52. avatar

    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.

  53. avatar

    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.

  54. avatar

    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.

  55. avatar

    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 it. You know? What were you trying to do?”
    “Violent crime.”

  56. avatar

    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 on we got into an argument too about dishes. That upset me because I’m the kind of person who…..” etc. I really can’t follow how this is related to maple trees.

  57. avatar
    Yvette J

    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 – is a person who’s just the one having a good old moan.

    You see how thin that line is??? Maybe the story is different for the person,


  58. avatar

    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”.

  59. avatar
    John Corcoran

    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.

  60. avatar

    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.

    Bear in mind, I hadn’t asked anything even remotely relating to her personal life. I’d kept it work related.

    I’d chalk this up to an isolated incident, but I run into it frequently. Makes me wonder if I should’ve gone into Psychology.

  61. avatar

    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 I care to dwell on. I also see that I picked this bad habit up from my mother; I’ve never had a deep, meaningful conversation with her because that’s just not what we do. She still wears clothes she’s had before I was born; she is resistant to change. I hope to avoid that same fate. It is only recently that I realized how much this “joking” habit has affected my life; it’s as if my social skills were a submarine and I’ve been treating them like a boat, only skimming the surface, never plumbing the depths. It’s probably a major reason why, at 32, I’m still a virgin. I’ve gone through the majority of my adult life never realizing that I could ask deep questions of others, that it’s OK to “bother” someone by engaging them in a serious discussion or asking them insightful questions. So sad, but at least I’m realizing it now. I only hope I can break my bad habits.

  62. avatar

    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).
    Sure, we naturally want and need to connect through our own experience. But there’s the tipping point and the persistence is more annoying than The Rambler. They are trying to prove they are a Renaissance type in their experience and ability to connect. My friend, you are three facts over the necessary quota for this conversation…

  63. avatar

    #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. As you shift back, they shimmy forward oblivious to the fact that you are backing away. In a threesome they collapse the circle and end up almost standing in the middle.

  64. avatar

    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 revealing anything of substance to anyone. Tell tale signs – high energy hello, followed by room scanning, a compliment on something obvious, and the exit line of “alright, i’ll see ya in a few.”
    The Teaser – this is the loud person who has a tendency to repeat the same sarcastic comments, “you’re a horrible bartender, but I guess I’m stuck with you (intonation and sly smile of joking manner).” This is also the person that thanks you for picking up the tab and promises to get you next time, but never does.

  65. avatar
    Michael Kruse

    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…”

  66. avatar

    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 really shy, but still, she could’ve tried a little harder.

  67. avatar

    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.

  68. avatar
    Jesus Garcia-Parrado

    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.


  69. avatar
    dora g

    +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?”

  70. avatar

    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. 😉

  71. avatar

    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 is like a pretext for them to perpetuate their monologue.

    The One
    Ah ha! That one is the symbol of what we all hate most about corporate life: they definitely are skilled, endowed with what we envy most from others and seem adavantaged on most levels. But they brag about it endlessly like nothing else exists, as if the world would end right now if they died. And just for this, they deserve a special mention here.

    The only thing that all of these types (including all commenters have contributed) have in common is that these people have never (ever) reflected on themselves to ask a simple question: how is my conduct/behaviour being perceived by others? As if the world owes them something, that they are entitled to the whole world’s attention at all time.

  72. avatar

    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?

  73. avatar

    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!

  74. avatar

    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.

  75. avatar

    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.

  76. avatar
    Angie unduplicated

    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.

  77. avatar

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

  78. avatar

    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.

  79. avatar

    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.

  80. avatar

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

  81. avatar

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

  82. avatar

    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.

  83. avatar

    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 such instance someone in the office was talking about healthcare in the country and she jumped in and started talking about how she did a trip to an impoverished country in south america where she studied the healthcare system there and also she mentioned how she got an A in that course in college.

    It would be interesting if there was a one-upper in this conversation to see how she reacts.

  84. avatar
    Kyle Durigan

    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 before.

    Good post as usual, and thank you for the reminder for social etiquette.

  85. avatar

    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 being slick with their bragging, while everyone else in the room realizes it couldn’t be more blatant. They slip it into a conversation where it clearly doesn’t fit, and then sit there looking pleased with themselves like they’re thinking, “Yes! Now these people know I’m rich, and I said that so casually that they can be in awe of my richness but think that I’m totally indifferent to it.”

    “Yeah, I’m a millionaire now, not just on paper, ha.”

    “Oh yeah, I get carsick too, but not in my new Tesla. My new Tesla rides sooo smooth.”

    “Man, I am beat, I spent most of the day in my hot tub and that just drains you, y’know?”

    ^^^One guy said all three of these things to me, and finally I just started saying, “Dude, no one cares.”

    …We don’t really hang out anymore.

  86. avatar

    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)

  87. avatar

    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 everything you said. What was the question?”

  88. avatar

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

  89. avatar

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

  90. avatar

    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 clumsy ways to connect to people they want to listen to. Sharing similar experiences is a major way we connect to people, in my opinion.

    For #3, I have come to firmly believe that it takes at least two people for a ramble to happen. Sometimes it’s because the rambler is missing cues that their audience is bored, sometimes the rambler is tired or otherwise impaired, and sometimes it is just that the listener is impatient, ignorant, or holding onto assumptions abouot the speaker’s socio-cultural background.


  91. avatar
    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.

  92. avatar
    Beth Bridges

    “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 me tell you about our current product promotion.”
    You: “Yesterday, I bought an aardvark.”
    Them: “I think this product would be great for you. When can we set an appointment?”

    So basically, they let you interject some words into their sales pitch. It feels like a conversation, but it really isn’t.

  93. avatar
    Beth Bridges

    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 🙂

  94. avatar
    Bill Ravenscraft

    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.

  95. avatar

    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.

  96. avatar

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

  97. avatar

    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.

  98. avatar

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

  99. avatar
    Tahnya Kristina

    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.

  100. avatar

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

  101. avatar
    L Rob

    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 topic so the rambling would stop!

  102. avatar

    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 ‘xyz’ for my cold because it’s the best and they use it, even after I have said I already tried it, and it really bothers my stomach. They interrupt you and cut you off every time you try to continue what it was you were initially saying, even if it means they begin to speak louder, and then they get very annoyed and uninterested in the conversation when you do try to speak. They talk so much they don’t even pay attention to their surroundings; you can literally walk away and they’re still chatting away-to themselves! When the attention is 100% on them, they are as happy as a 5-year-old child getting their new red bike on Christmas day. And the moment you try to speak (“take their spotlight”), it’s as though you stole their brand new red bike, rode it down the road, and crashed it into a tree!!!

  103. avatar

    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.

  104. avatar
    Steven Le

    ‘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…

  105. avatar

    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” …

  106. avatar

    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 give us as kids … later got me in situation after situation where people could easily guilt me into doing something for them & my “nice values” wouldn’t let me put a stop to it.

    But wait, this is IWT, not Oprah! We get to mercilessly lampoon the rest of the crazies out there. Yaaay! Here goes…

    1. The-Truth-Is-Out-There Sniffer »
    I know a person who always thought anyone who wasn’t bowing down to her was hiding some ugly truth & it was her moral obligation towards the company to find out this ugly truth. She would say … “i just think that (_name_) is (_some abhorrent trait_) ” … and then meet that persons ex-colleagues, take them out for coffee /dinner … plant some lies or doubts… then come back and tell everyone in office… “you know all the ex-collegues thought exactly what i think about (name) … you know me, i always had every good instincts about people”. Then she would pick on the next person & set out to “uncover the truth” about him/her.

    2. The-Fake-Cry-er »
    She knows she isn’t crying. You know she isn’t crying. She knows that you know she isn’t crying. Yet she cries anyway … in the most attention seeking way possible in an extremely public environment. “why…WHY…why me… my 4th…WHY” she whimpers. Now everyone knows you’ve been killing her unborn babies. You bad monkey!!! … But wait, why was she crying…her 4th what?
    She just found out she has to get her 4th root canal treatment. Like…dude! Brush. Floss. Mouthwash. Stop fake-crying already.

    3. The-Alpha-Daaawwg-Who-Is-A-Frog:
    No one said finding true love was going to be easy. And this alpha is here to prove it. With the eloquence of a despot he establishes his “value” off-handedly mentioning his millions, his biceps, his cars, his expensive vacations, the girls who hit on him everyday, how much it pains him that he can’t be the love of their life – life is so unfair isn’t it? … then he looks at you… eyes you up and down… and says “in the past i’ve only dated size 0 women, but hey love is more important that size”. Then for one tiny second he asks about what you do… and even before you finish the first sentence… he starts on how he’s done something 10x bigger… and how entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone… and he goes on…and on…and on…

  107. avatar

    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 tendencies before but, now I consciously look for ways to end conversations nicely in advance to avoid that forced awkward ending in the end.

    OMG these ones: People (especially people older than me!) Who Don’t Accept Opinions of The Other Person ( don’t know what to name these people).

    -This will be in a situation where you meet someone new in a line or whatever, and then you end up speaking about different topics and maybe something like school come’s up. I’d tell them that there are other things I’m doing and I don’t want to school right now.
    Then the person would come with some sh*t like, ‘You’ve got to go to school, otherwise what are going to be in life’ and here’s the funny part, I’d express my opinion and they’d, try to talk over me as if they’ve got a PHD living my life, I find these people REALLY annoying, and from my experience as a 20 year old it mainly comes from people around 30 and upwards.
    And due to the conditioning of how to treat older people in my country, sometimes I’m not sure if I must tell them where to get off or just make fun of them for questioning the source of their opinion. I do the latter sometimes.

    See the funny thing I’ve noticed is that if you’re too nice to talk to, then people have a tendency to try impose their beliefs on you. I imagine that it’s some sort psychological thing that ‘if this guy that I get along with shares the same worldviews with me, then he’s on my side and its more evidence that my world is secure’. I haven’t studied psychology but I think it’s something like that.

    There’s another one which is sort of a mix of a Rambler I don’t know what to call it:
    I’d be walking somewhere and I’d meet this friend on the way, we’d end up catching up for 5minutes while walking. Then there would come a point where I’d want to go a different direction and do my own things, but this dude will be locking you in conversation and wasting time a LOT but greeting like EVERYONE on the way, I mean like EVERYONE. He’d greet a person and have a 30 second chat with them, and this is WHILE we’re going together and its SO hard unlatching from this guy because ‘we’d be catching up’.

    A big thing I’ve noticed about this type is that he’d waste time a lot with greeting every single person around the neighbourhood if not that he’d be waiting for someone somewhere ‘for just 5 minutes, I mean we’re heading the same way anyway man’

    It’s messed up haha maybe the Clutch of The Time-Waster . Now whenever I speak to him I make sure, it’s like 3-5 minutes long, and then I’d consciously have to change my body language in way that shows I’m about to leave, and start walking away slightly and explain to him that ‘hey man nice catching up, I’m got to get going now’.

    Great post Ramit

  108. avatar

    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.

  109. avatar

    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.

  110. avatar
    M.C. Ward

    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 you get two of them conversing, it becomes an arms race of stupidity.

    A related species is the “Too-Goody Two-Shoes.” These specimens always love to tell you about minor sacrifices and inconveniences they have made or suffered through because they are just “too good.” Most of their reasons for self-martyrdom turn out to be the type of things that ordinary do all the time without drawing attention to themselves: pledging a friend who is doing a charity run; making something for a workplace bake sale and so forth.

  111. avatar
    Yanni Raz

    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.

  112. avatar

    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.”

  113. avatar

    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?

  114. avatar

    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.

  115. avatar

    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.

  116. avatar

    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!”.

  117. avatar
    Randy Chang

    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!

  118. avatar
    Jordan M

    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.

  119. avatar
    Josh R.

    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.

  120. avatar
    What is the perfect birthday gift? | DINKS Finance

    […] I Will Teach You To Be Rich – 3 archetypes of social weirdos […]

  121. avatar

    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 to stories, such as “semi-attractive Indian” which, again, add nothing, and make the listener question their probably narcissistic motives. Incidentally, there are ways to reference her attractiveness (semi-attractiveness?! Don’t tell me you have a rating system) more indirectly, so it will still make you look good, and avoid the thought which goes ‘oh great, another person whose inflated ego I have to tiptoe around so as not to burst’.

    The person who belittles their own sagaciousness, by laughing at those who aren’t as adept, saying things like “I like to listen in from nearby and cackle” displaying their untrustworthiness.

    The person who, when told the ways in which their personal skills are far, far less than desirable, let their ego get in the way of accepting such advice, ultimately proving harmful to their relationships.

    The person who doesn’t allow themselves to be questioned, or publicly helped, from a misunderstanding that their image being squeaky clean will gain their support, when really, truly confident, happy, successful people wear their vulnerabilities on their sleeves, and are loved for it all the more. Such people may not allow things such as this comment to be seen on their blog. [This one is a challenge, Ramit.]

    With love from the U.K.,


  122. avatar
    Marsha from


    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.

  123. avatar

    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 the only person there to take issue with his behaviour. Everyone else seemed to find it perfectly normal. Then I did a test run of not interrupting anyone for any reason anymore, since that is something I tend to do. The results were that I got interrupted a lot, and would wait it out everytime. It is a nice excercise to do it with a Rambler, just to see how long he can go. Sideeffect is that they then tend to like you, because real listening is so rare these days 🙂

    My contributions:
    The Shouter
    Usually appear as group. Doesn’t talk, just shouts together or in sequence with the others. Most impressive were 3 flatmates who would sit in the kitchen each night and do that for hours. They came from 3 different contintents, so you might expect them to have something to say to each other, but instead they just filled the air with noise. Shouters are not dangerious, just loud and annoying, and impossible to have a conversation with.

    The Fucktard
    Someone who not just swear exessively but uses [»fuck»,»shit«] either as colon or as space [~] in [~] every [~] single [~] sentence. I get it that swearing is seen differently depending on the place, and I don’t mind it occasionally, but these people go way over the top, and just fill their sentences up. Also they don’t use all the creative terms their language came up with, just the two mentioned above, leading to a poorer expression power. Super annoying and hard to follow anything someone like that says. Southpark had an episode on excessive swearing with I highly recommend.

  124. avatar

    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.

  125. avatar

    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 it has to be ALL the guys gravitate towards this one woman….it is amazing AND pathetic to see if you are a woman because u originally like the woman because she has so much to say, fills silences and comes up with duff topics etc but it isn’t until that moment arises that you realise they are specifically ‘A man attracter and monopoliser’ as once u see this, all men are under her spell and there is no interest even in all the other females that might be present and sadly because u can physically see the spell that these guys are under you see them as quite pathetic, without much of a brain and you are very disappointed! If someone knows a way round this, without turning into a one upper with the girl please post a comment!

  126. avatar

    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 🙂