How to Deal With Selfish People

We all know selfish people.

We’re all selfish to some degree. The trick is to know when it’s healthy and when it’s not.

I’m selfish with my time. I know this and accept this. I think the biggest reason I’m selfish with my time is because most of the time, my time is not my own. Meaning, I work 40+ hours per week and when I’m working, I’m doing things FOR other people. I’m taking care of other people’s needs, answering other people’s questions, listening to other people talk about their lives.

And that’s okay. It comes with the territory. And people interest me, so I can deal and accept that.

Not many people ask me questions about my life. Most of the time, I listen to other people and honestly, I’m okay with that. I don’t really feel that comfortable talking about myself. Not that I’m ashamed of me or my family, I don’t know, I just don’t think I’m that interesting. Again, I say that not in a self-depreciating way but because, honestly, it’s true. When I’m not at work, I keep to myself. I read and write, a lot. I’m okay with my own company. I need alone time to recharge my social batteries. No. I REQUIRE alone time to reset.

Though I guess you could say that blogging about me, my thoughts, is selfish.

I always cringe whenever I read articles or watch videos about “self care,” because I hear self care but think selfish. I shouldn’t think that way, but I do. I think self care is a buzzword nowadays and I think some people go overboard with self care.

Okay – yes, take care of yourself, but when you’re too focused on taking care of yourself, doesn’t that cross the line into selfishness?

Being selfish means there’s a desire to take from others, often to their detriment. However, selfcare is about replenishing your resources without depleting someone else’s. Selfcare is a means of restoring your own energy, which promotes healthy physical and emotional well-being.

I’m a very empathetic person. I try and put myself in other people’s shoes. What must it be like to live their life? Why do they feel the way they do? Why are they acting like that? Where did that attitude come from? Though I like to try and figure out what is behind a person’s attitude, I also have zero patience for people who use excuses for the way they behave. For example – I’m in an abusive relationship. My parents never showed me they loved me. I have depression and anxiety. Etc.

It might be the REASON you’re acting the way you are but it should NEVER be an excuse to treat other people with anything less that respect. Unfortunately, those are issues you’re going to have to address and move past.

For example: I work with a gal who is not nice. She’s mean to co-workers and patients. In fact, patients have complained about her. She has a very Eeyore attitude and she doesn’t even try to be diplomatic or kind – in short, she’s just a bitch. Her reason is she has depression and anxiety and though we’ve never talked about it, it’s common knowledge . She has a standing “date” with her therapist every other week because we, as MA’s, have to decide who is going to cover her while she’s gone.  And okay. I don’t fault her for that and I’m glad she’s seeking help, it means she recognizes she has a problem and she’s actively working on it. However, I feel like others excuse her behavior. “Oh now, so-and-so has anxiety. She’s on medication.” Again, okay. I get that. I get that she has to work harder to reign her nastiness in and I’m sure it’s really hard for her, furthermore, she’s actively working on it, good for her. However, that is NO excuse to treat her co-workers, who only want to help her, like garbage. I think part of this girl’s problem is, she doesn’t recognize when she’s acting like that way because there have been times I’ve gotten so annoyed with her bitchiness I’ve looked at her and said, “What’s with the ‘tude? Are you upset with me?” In which she will reply, “oh, not at all” and suddenly her attitude changes.

I actively avoid her. I have no desire to get to know her or be around all of that negativity. I’m not the only one. Which is sad, really, because I think that conscious decision to not be around her only serves to reinforce her opinion about herself.

At any rate, I have zero patience for selfish people and I have no problem getting away from selfish people. Because ultimately, I don’t care enough to deal with them. But I realize that not everyone is as lucky – they have people in their lives that for whatever reasons, they can’t get away from.

How do you know if someone in your life is selfish?

Here are 14 signs of selfish people from Hack Spirit:

Selfish people are very good manipulators

A manipulative person refers to someone who seeks to control people and circumstances just to achieve what they want. They might use emotional blackmail. Selfish people are skilled manipulators by instinct and a control freak at heart.

Selfish people are uncaring toward others

For example, if you open up your emotions to them, they may try to manipulate you to get what they want or make you feel guilty.

Selfish people plot and scheme against you

Abigail Brenner M.D. wrote on Psychology Today, “Manipulative people are really not interested in you except as a vehicle to allow them to gain control so that you become an unwilling participant in their plans.”

Selfish people are conceited and self-centered

The way selfish people think is that they want to be put first. However, they are not satisfied with being the priority. They also want to put you down.

Ever met someone who insists that everything they say is of relevance and everything that you say is not? That is a classic example of a selfish person.

Selfish people find sharing and giving difficult

Maybe you know of a selfish person but you have some doubts because that someone shows a caring side.

Let me tell you this, it’s all fake. Caring, sharing, and giving are not an easy thing for them to do and those actions will show through in this situation.

For one, they will want something in exchange. Maybe they want everyone to know about it so that they are praised for it.

If you are in this situation, just let their gesture of goodwill go unnoticed and don’t praise them for it.

Selfish people put their own goals ahead of other people

Because of their way of thinking, they expect other people to do things for them. When you see that this is happening, do not let them have what they want.

It’s all about control, so do not give it to them.

Selfish people do not show weakness or vulnerability

Selfish or narcissistic people are scared to show weakness. They think that by helping other people, he or she is demonstrating weakness or internal insecurity.

Selfish people don’t accept constructive criticism

People who are selfish cannot and will not accept constructive criticism. Their huge egos just can’t process that constructive criticism is for their own good.

They only think that you are attempting to devalue their work and their potential. This situation will always end up with the selfish person defending themselves.

Indeed, it is very difficult for them to realize that they are wrong.

Selfish people believe they deserve everything

Being selfish is not only characterized with self-centeredness but also with false sense of entitlement.

For example, they expect to be continuously rewarded even without doing anything. The reason? They just deserve everything and they’re perfect.

Selfish people do not listen to those who do not agree with them

When you say something to a selfish person, even if it’s constructive, will be taken against you. They will think that you are their enemy and you do not deserve their respect or attention.

Selfish people criticize others behind their backs

Selfish people prefer easy judgment and nothing is easier than judging behind a person’s back.

Selfish people exaggerate their achievements

One of the most notorious deficiencies of selfish people is their lack of humility.

Humility, considered as a precious human virtue, is needed for us to grow as people and as social beings in our environment.

But selfish people, having huge egos, will always look for ways to stand out and exaggerate their achievements.

Selfish people are scared of public failure

Selfish people cannot bring themselves to think of their failure. When they fail, either they run from the situation or blame others.

However, when other people fail is another story. They don’t think twice about giving out severe criticism when others fail

Selfish people dominate others

Do you know someone who calls you up whenever he or she feels like it? Or asks you to meet them at their whims and fancies?

This is one characteristic of a selfish person – they wrap you around their fingers and it’s pretty hard to break loose. Victims of selfish people end up losing confidence.

Okay – so we’ve identified selfish people. Now, how do you handle selfish people? This is from Power of Positivity:

Silence is golden

Someone has just said something terribly selfish. Let their words hang in the air as you gaze at them in silence for a few, long, seconds. Pausing like this gives the selfish person a chance to hear their words again and process how you might have taken their meaning in a negative way.

That is not what is best for me.

This statement may sound selfish, but it reflects your assessment of what the selfish person has asked for, and it sets a boundary that you do not want them to cross.

It sounds like you want _______. Is that right?

I like this one. Because it takes the selfish person’s words and turns it back on them. It clarifies their request and forces them to realize what they want, and/or how they are going about getting what they want, is selfish.

I would like a turn to speak when you are done.

A selfish person can monopolize the conversation and unless you make your expectations clear, you might not be able to speak your mind.

I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t word it quite so nicely, personally.

Let’s see if we can find a compromise.

Because life is compromising. Period.

Can you see that what you want is not in my best interests?

This approach is an attempt to get the selfish person to see your point of view. It might not work, but it doesn’t hurt to ask them to TRY to see things from your perspective.

That doesn’t work for me. How about _____ instead?

You’ve made it clear that you do not accept what the selfish person wants and you have stated your preference. What happens next is up to the selfish person’s ability to change their mindset.

Let’s talk about what’s best for both of us.

Again, trying to gain the cooperation of the selfish person will benefit both of you. Researchers studying selfishness found that when there was a choice between a purely selfish result and a result that would benefit the group, a brief discussion before making the choice resulted in people choosing the option that benefitted the group 100% of the time.

I think my favorite comeback is to just say nothing and stare at them. Then, when the silence stretches out for so long it becomes uncomfortable, look at them with a deadpan expression, and call them out. “You do realize that’s a pretty selfish perspective, right?”

But then again, I’m not always a nice person … so take that with a grain of salt.

Here’s a really good video on how to identify if you’re with a selfish, or toxic, person.


I hope this was helpful. People are complex and people are flawed. The challenge is to determine whether we should keep these people in our lives and/or not to lose ourselves in the process.