5 Types of People To Keep at Arms Length

“People inspire you, or they drain you. Pick them wisely.” – Hans F. Hansen.

Wise words, wouldn’t you agree?

If you take a quick inventory of all those in your life, you’ll naturally be drawn to those who inspire you. Conversely, we naturally tend to keep our distance from those who cause drama and conflict.

And then there’s the personality types that you could do without. These are people in your life where you have to set boundaries. Boundaries that are ultimately drawn to prevent getting hurt.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s there are certain types of people that need to be kept at bay. Specific individuals that need to be shown tremendous kindness and love, yet not allowed too close because their destructive tendencies will only get you emotionally burned. 

Here’s a list of those top 5 types of people that all need love, but need to stay at arms length.


People who are hyper-critical.

Everyone knows someone like this. (at some point we’ve all most likely been this person)

The hyper-critical person is someone who criticizes everything. They’re critical of all your everyday activities from your bank, to your auto mechanic, your job, and those they work with. The hyper-critical isn’t content with what they have, and every problem that needs solving has to be solved their way or nothing at all. If someone else suggests a method for accomplishing a specific chore, the hyper-critical person considers them the enemy and gets pushed away.

And there’s nothing wrong with good ole fashioned, honest feedback. Nothing at all. That’s how we grow; by receiving feedback that helps us understand our failings. But action needs to be taken with people who engage in perpetual criticism. Perpetual criticism is different than honest feedback, as long as it’s given with care. When criticism doesn’t offer some sort of solution, and fails to be constructive, then you need to consider establishing boundaries around this person. Don’t get rid of them, but you definitely need to think about how to quickly disassociate yourself from them. Bad things come from those who are hyper-critical.

People who are impatient or easily frustrated.

Individuals who become easily frustrated at things or display signs of great impatience are dangerous because this type of personality is typically narcissistic in nature.

You can spot a narcissist a mile away, assuming you know what traits to look for. A narcissistic personality is one which people have traits that cause them to behave in upsetting ways. Their ability to function in relationships is limited, and areas of their life suffer, such as their professional life and personal life. 

Here’s how to spot someone that’s impatient, or a potential narcissist.

  • They’re conceited and always talk about the conquers of their battles.
  • They’re always talking about who they know, and what they’ve done.
  • This person is often times boastful.
  • This person often monopolizes conversations.
  • They belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior.
  • When they don’t get what they want, they stomp their feet in anger like Rumpelstiltskin.  

Those who are impatient or easily frustrated are also the folks who get themselves in trouble because of their penchant to leap before looking. These are family members who burn bridges, colleagues who make perpetual hiring errors, and friends who constantly make poor investments. Making fast decisions and failing quickly is one thing, but being impatient when your goals are being obstructed is cause for concern. Impatient people hate being held up. It doesn’t matter whether it’s intentional or not. 

Love those who are easily frustrated and impatient, but do your best to keep space between you and them. 

People who are passive-aggressive.

You’re the sum of the five people who you interact with most.

Naturally, you should desire to interact with those who are direct, and willing to talk through conflict, rather than avoid it. Those who are passive-aggressive don’t possess this quality. I’m not one to say things like ‘get rid of people‘ but those that are passive-aggressive need to go. Don’t surround yourself with them. 

Passive aggressive types have great difficulty receiving feedback, and passive aggression is deadly in the workplace as well as in life. Vulnerability through the sharing of feedback is needed, especially in the workplace, in order for growth and progress to happen. You can’t be vulnerable with passive aggression. 

People who over promise and under deliver.

These are the people in your life that say they’ll do something, but don’t get it done.

The people that commit to one thing and most times don’t deliver. These are yes-men, the ‘A’ types in your life, the sales people, and the ones that rarely take a step back to examine a problem before diving right in. Usually those who over promise are hiding. They’re hiding behind insecurities, and are simply trying to impress everyone around them instead of being an independent thinker. 

Think about a task or a project that you recently handed off to someone. Why did you give this task to them? You trust them. You believe in them. You know they’ll deliver. These people in your life are the ones who you can count on. They’re committed. 

Surround yourself with those who have good critical thinking ability, while passing on those who are simple yes-men.

People who are bullies.

Want to know the best way to identify a bully? Watch who and what they laugh at.

Bullies are arrogant. They don’t laugh at themselves. They instead laugh at others, and they rarely self-deprecate. If somebody makes fun of others but isn’t self deprecating, they’re a taker and not a giver.

Ever hear a loud-mouthed talk show host make a self-deprecating joke? Probably not. Bullies make great television and radio personalities, for sure. I keep those at arms length who can’t laugh at themselves and have zero friends who aren’t objective about themselves and others.

There’s an entire myriad of problems that’s associated with this type of person. Bullies tend to protect others on the condition that others submit. Bullies also use force, threat, or physical manipulation to abuse and dominate others. The behavior of bullies is often repeated and habitual. If you have friends or colleagues who are bullies, I’d keep my distance if I were in your shoes. That’s an unhealthy relationship. 

Are you one of these people?

As I was writing this, I was really challenged. There were a number of times that I had to stop and do some introspection.

Do I display character flaws that need correction? Am I any of these personality types?

Are you? What do you need to change in your life in order to become better?

One thought on “5 Types of People To Keep at Arms Length

  1. What can you do when you are with one of these types but cannot get away. Thanks for your explanation. I will look at myself to see if I fit any of these molds.


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