6 Types of People Who Are Really Hard to Talk To

Some people make conversation feel like a form of torture. Here's how to handle even the most difficult personality types.

learn more about Jacqueline Whitmore

By Jacqueline Whitmore

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Certain people are masters at feeding their own egos. If you've ever been cornered by a particularly insecure or competitive personality in the professional arena, you know how miserable these types of interactions can be.

They make conversation feel like a form of torture -- but it's possible to navigate even the most challenging exchanges with grace.

1. The braggart. This dialogue-destroyer emphasizes status and wealth. He'll share how much money he makes, with the conversation constantly revolving around his brand new Ferrari or his Fifth Avenue apartment.

Related: Master Your 'Mingle-Ability': 5 Creative Ways to Network

Often, the not-so-humblebrags are delivered indirectly. He'll tell you how the insurance on his yacht has skyrocketed in the past year, or how he wishes his girlfriend would stop buying Birkin bags. Whenever you run into a braggart, acknowledge his good fortune and then change the subject.

2. The rumormonger. This person is always at the center of gossip and drama. She'll involve herself in everybody else's personal lives and make it her business to spread juicy rumors.

Whenever you run into a rumormonger, change the subject -- or better yet, excuse yourself. Most importantly, never share anything confidential with her. If she's spreading other people's personal business around, you can bet she'll do the same thing with yours.

Related: Read This Before Your Next Hard Conversation

3. The one-upper. This person will let you know that, whatever you've done, he's got a story to top it. "Oh, you just got back from scaling Mount Kilimanjaro? That's a good beginner's trip. Climbing Everest was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life."

The one-upper likes to feel important. It can be a challenge -- but be patient and ask questions. "It's great to meet a fellow mountain climber. What was the most challenging part of your Everest trip?"

4. The hard-hearted. This individual has no filter. She says whatever's on her mind with no concern for others' feelings. Typically, this person isn't deliberately hurtful, but she lacks an ability to express herself without it being perceived as negative or rude. "You're looking super skinny. Have a chocolate brownie. You could stand to gain a few pounds."

Avoid the temptation to respond defensively. The best way to handle this situation is to kill her with kindness or deflect the comment with humor or flattery. "Thank you for your concern. I'm trying to lose a few pounds so I can look as good as you!"

Related: 3 Situations When You Should Shut Your Mouth

5. The brain-picker. This person takes and never gives back. He'll corner you and ask endless questions, always looking for free advice. "You're a dermatologist? Will you look at this mole on my arm? Should I be concerned?" Don't dispense your valuable knowledge for free. Respond with something like, "Call my office first thing Monday morning and my assistant will schedule an appointment for you."

6. The rambler. We've all had the experience of being held hostage by a rambler at a networking event. This person talks at you instead of with you. She thinks she's being social by speaking, but monopolizes the conversation and exhibits all the traits of a chronic non-listener -- often interrupting.

Try to introduce the rambler to someone else or excuse yourself politely. Make sure to engage and stay in control of the conversation, however, before you disengage.

Related: 5 Rookie Networking Fails and How to Avoid Them

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.

Thought Leaders

The Collapse of Credit Suisse: A Cautionary Tale of Resistance to Hybrid Work

This cautionary tale serves as a reminder for business leaders to adapt to the changing world of work and prioritize their workforce's needs and preferences.

Business Solutions

Learn to Build a ChatGPT Bot for Only $30

If you want to see what AI can do for your business, grab this course bundle today.

Business News

'I Don't Feel Like It's Unreasonable': A-List Actor Refused Service At Hotspot For Not Following Dress Code

Academy Award-winning actor Russell Crowe had quite the afternoon after trying to stop at a Japanese steakhouse in Melbourne, Australia following a game of tennis.

Business News

American Airlines Sued After Teen Dies of Heart Attack Onboard Flight to Miami

Kevin Greenridge was traveling from Honduras to Miami on June 4, 2022, on AA Flight 614 when he went into cardiac arrest and became unconscious mid-flight.

Business News

I'm a Former Google Recruiter. Here's How to Land a Job in Tech — and What Can Blow Your Interview

A former Google recruiter says layoffs may be trendy, but tech workers are always needed. Here's how to land a job at a major tech company.