The Argumentative Personality

The Argumentative Personality

I have been writing a personality column for Natural Health, where each month I provide some insight into different personalities. Here is some insight into The Argumentative Personality. Does this sound like anyone you know?



Do you feel like some people you know enjoy arguing just for the sake of arguing? You could be right. While some people like to debate ideas and opinions, others argue out of habit: – they can’t help themselves, and will make a fuss about the most trivial things, just to cause conflict. This can drive those around them up the wall because they are almost always on the defensive, even about what might seem like the most insignificant things. Meet the argumentative personality – the friend, colleague, or relative who will find fault with you or a situation just to engage you in seemingly pointless verbal sparring matches. Other identifying characteristics include:


  • Their daily mantra seems to be, “I object.”

  • Other people are always the source of an argument, not them.

  • “It’s your fault” and “You are to blame” are some of their favourite phrases.

  • It’s almost impossible to get them to consider your views – in their mind they are always right.

  • They can come up with heaps of reasons why you, and not they, are the ones causing all the trouble.




Here’s what’s not so great about the Argumentative Personality:


  • Habitual ‘argument stokers’ can drive you crazy, especially when you live or work with them; it’s hard to have a conflict-free conversation with them, even about trivial matters.

  • Many, if not most, of them have strong narcissistic tendencies; in other words, they are very self-absorbed.

  • They have little, or hardly any, insight into how their behaviours impact others.

  • When they come across people whose views differ from their own, they feel threatened, and go on the defensive.

  • They are chronic blamers: others, or the world, are always at fault.





There are minimal good points about the Argumentative Personality:


  • Being consistently at the mercy of an Argumentative Personality can help build motivation to stand up for yourself.

  • We can learn debate techniques from those who passionately defend their views.


How do I deal with the Argumentative Personality?


It takes lots of energy to defend yourself and maintain self-esteem when you have to deal with a person that sees you as the source of wrongdoing. Here are some suggestions on how to maintain your sanity when working or living with an argumentative person:


  • Chronic argument seekers use an outmoded style of relating that might have worked for them in the past; realising they use an immature defence mechanism to protect themselves can make you more understanding and tolerant when in their company.

  • Try not to ask their opinion on anything – “I need this done in two hours” or “I need you to fetch the kids from school today” are better than “Do you think you can do this in two hours?” or “Do you think you can pick up the kids today?”

  • Avoid using phrases like: “Let’s talk about this peacefully” or “I don’t want to argue with you, but …”

  • Ø  People who constantly argue seek control and power over others. You cannot reason with them, so it’s best to withdraw from an argument than try to prove them wrong

  • Remind yourself that chronic arguing is an ingrained defence mechanism that, with time and patience, can be unlearned.



Am I an Argumentative Personality?


You know you are the argumentative type when:


  • Not a day goes by without you having an argument with someone.

  • Feeling you have control and power over everyone and everything all the time is critical to you.

  • Other people, not you, are always to blame for starting an argument.

  • The opinions and feelings of others don’t matter to you.

  • You feel good about yourself when initiating and engaging in arguments, which is why you can’t do without them.

  • The worst thing in the world is feeling you are wrong.

  • Relationships filled with conflict are normal for you.



What can I do if I am an Argumentative Personality?


Seek professional help from a counsellor. You can change if you are willing to explore the deeper meaning behind your argumentative nature. It is possible that you lack confidence and a sense of self-worth, and seek it through aggression and arguments; counselling can help you resolve this. When you begin to feel true confidence, the need for arguments and conflict will start to abate. Everyone uses some type of defence mechanism to protect themselves emotionally, so there’s nothing wrong with this; the problem is that your defence mechanism is an outdated one that probably served you well in the distant past. The challenge is in unlearning this old defence mechanism and replacing it with a new, constructive one.

Categories: Psychology

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30 replies

  1. Shel only agree to do what I want when I say ill leave

    • I think others see me as argumentative because I really don’t agree with the status quo very much. When you don’t believe in the status quo you must defend your opinions far more then one who does. In fact supporting the status as in capitalism, the rights of those who consider themselves authority, the democratic system and so on takes not only much thought, bit little in the way of facts, history and so on. I also think the word “defensiveness” as you use it and how it is normally used is wrong. If any of us has an opinion do we not try to defend it if we do our research and have been shown nothing by the other to change our mind. As well it’s tough when people say you always think you are right when you spend your life learning and thinking and researching and the only defense of most seems to be the old “it’s that way because it is” and have nothing more to offer. I’ve spent my life in search of truth and don’t agree with others just for the sake of peace. The biggest example I can think of is the religion arg ument. I am an atheist because I have never in my entire life heard a single reason to believe otherwise, yet I am always called defensive for arguing my pt. and not giving in. In the US anyway the religious seem to be able to believe in all sorts of make believe and never be called on it. If I were to make absurd statement on something like that (as long as I didn’t claim it was my religion) I would be laughed from the room and called an idiot. I do believe belief in god is idiotic yet I’m not permitted normally to say so. If I were to say the sky was black in the middle of a bright shiny day I would be considered insane and or called an idiot nd most would think that were ok.
      The reason I read this page was I do believe a friend of mine is of the people you speak. He seems to have little information on anything yet will argue about it untill the end of time. Next day he may change his opinion totally (forgetting and denying the one he previously held) and defend that one just as aggressively. All with tenth hand old wives tales at best to defend his new opinion and then get loud when you dont buy into it.

  2. I was at my drama workshop recently in Sussex and one of the members did not like the session we where doing. She said that she could not understand the text to the drama coach. And unfortunately a row broke out between the workshop member and the drama coach. The drama coach was annoyed that the member criticised about her in front of the others when she should have took her to one side and told her that she did not like the session she did not understand the text at all ( it was George Bernard Shaw St Joan) the argument then escalated and the drama coach said if you don’t like it leave you are spoiling the session for the other members. They then left the room and the argument continued. One of the members said to the member who had complained this is a drama workshop you aren’t going to like everything that the drama coach does each week. This particular person has been in conflict with some of the other members before perhaps she is an argumentative person as this article says some people are and they jump at the slightest reason to argue with others.

  3. Hi Vivienne I have experienced this type of problem myself at a Yoga class some people are never happy unless they are causing problems. One woman causes hassle over someone else putting their Yoga mat on what she calls her space. There has been a row over that at times. This particular woman think she owns the floor space I think. I stay well away from her now. These sessions are suppose to be pleasurable not a minefield of stress. I hope your next drama session is less hassle good luck.

  4. This article fits me to a T. I have been told I’m argumentative on several occasions by different family members. When I was younger I had little to no self esteem, no self confidence, and a terribly negative self image, and I’m supposedly a really handsome guy (so I’ve been told). I’ve read that whenever someone is engaged in an argument, different endorphins are released in the brain. Feel good endorphins. I read a lot and I try to learn as much about the world around me as possible and others take it the wrong way when I express my views (or maybe I approach the situation in the wrong way) and it usually ends up in an argument. I’m trying to get better at this and I hope I can take a step back and really look at myself on a more frequent basis so I can curb my argumentative ways. Thanks for listening.

  5. Most of the time the person who is argumentative is in denial and often believes they aren’t doing anything wrong. Does this make them a sociopath? What about when you give them a list of examples and they make excuses or choose to ignore the ones that they know are valid? By ignoring I mean, they refuse to discuss it.

    I’ve also noticed in a lot of debates on Facebook there will be the usual back and forth between a few people and then suddenly there is someone calling those who oppose “idiots” and saying that the reason they are opposing is because they must be constant complainers or heartless individuals. It’s as if they cannot accept someone with a view that differs from theirs so in order to add merit to their view they have to put down the opposing party by attacking their character.

    Even when you are agreeing that you are on the same page they will respond in some way with a redirect about something just so they can turn it back into an argument. They often post floods of links etc of things they’ve pulled from the internet as if no one but them would know this. Most of the stuff is common knowledge.

    According to political debates, the person who starts name calling or uses profanity loses the debate.

  6. I have someone in my family who fits the mold of an argumentative personality. He is a blamer and will go to great lengths to prove a person wrong, to the point of lying, JUST to prove he’s right. If he is caught dead on in his behavior, he will always use the phrase, “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way, but that was not my intention” totally shifting the blame again, so that he comes out looking completely innocent. As I have grown and matured, I realize there is no reason to try and be right. I know when I am telling the truth about a situation, and I own my own feelings, so I don’t need to hear it from him in order to make any sense of it.
    If I do have something to say, I say what I say honestly and then it’s totally up to him to except it or not, but I will not try and prove my case any longer. Short and sweet is much better than an hour worth of a conversation that goes no where.
    Now, that being said, I don’t completely understand why anyone would consider this behavior beneficial, considering that it only makes you look like you’re in a constant battle of survival-mode. It must be exhausting to always need to be right and utterly painful when you realize you’re not. That constant, bi-polar thought process is damaging to your children and to others. It leaves a very bad mark.
    A professor once told me, “You didn’t get to this place on your own. There were thousands of people who helped you get here. Don’t ever take for granted that different people of different cultures of different races provided you this chance.”

  7. i thought there was something wrong with me when I lived in western Canada because I wasn’t able to get through many tasks without arguments. then I moved to Toronto and didn’t have an argument with anyone for the first year. so remember some cultures breed argumentative types.

    I have long had problems getting family members and house work employees to respect my belongings. I don’t know if that makes me an argumentative person. I feel terrible for days after rows. after a few years of dealing with people who argue I just try to get them out of my life–some people can’t be reasoned with.

  8. I have a friend who loves to argue and I feel attacked much of the time.

  9. My mother seems to enjoy playing a devil’s advocate type role against me lately. When I attempt to draw her attention to the way she treats me with her indirect bullying; controlling; undermining and argumentative behaviour she then accuses me of being the troublemaker and insists that she is not arguing with me. She often disses my opinions in a way that only a parent can get away with. I try to be nice and respectful towards her but she always seems to find a way to put me down again. I end up feeling very low in self esteem, so my resentment builds up and when she has a go at me I’m already hyper vigilant because of her ongoing pattern of behaviour and I’m ready for another flaming row. She even slapped me once. What can I do, she’s got me trapped because I’m concerned for her, she is widowed and she has me living with her paying way too much rent and hearing way too much from her about how I should be running my life etc but I’m worried she’ll get another ‘Mc husband’ off the internet if I move out. She’s still paying off a dead man’s debts because she married a conman she met online several years ago…help😦

    • Hi. Thank you for your post. I can relate as I am experiencing something similar to this.Hang in there.
      I wonder if she has any notion of personal space boundaries.

  10. Thank you for this column subject. I’d like to know some probable reasons why people develop this trait I assume there are conditions in their early life that likely lead to this trait. There must be some common “theme “in their histories however varied their personal stories . My “debater”, ha, was on only child & wonder if that is common trait. Interesting article, we’ll done.

    • Hi. I have been sucked into the arguments by argumentative people. I have noticed that many have no control over many aspects of their life-not to say they are all like this-but many i have come across are unhappy with their life and I wonder some times if they are consciously doing this or if their minds are stuck in a cyclical pattern.

    • My husband is not an only child, he has 3 siblings and he’s very argumentative. He will go to extreme lengths just to prove himself right, even if he knows he’s wrong. He is always adding little sarcastic side comments when he is talking to you, to try and bait you into an argument. He loves to blame others (especially me) for why he’s wrong (if he ever admits it). It’s super frustrating to live with.

      • He is toxic. You have to get away from a person like that or they will poison you and you’ll become someone you don’t want to be.
        When he starts in, politely say you are not engaging in an argument and then get in your car and leave. If you do it enough, he’ll get the picture. When you leave, go do something fun. Enjoy your life. It’s too short to waste it on a troll.

  11. My work colleague/office manager is EXACTLY as the above. Made my life a living hell when i first started ther by not training me, lije i should just instinctively know how to use a brans new system!! In the end it was a fight or flee situation and i choose to stay. 3 years down the line and i am at my wits end. No amount of explaining to my boss the difficult behavior i have to put up with, i just get ‘shez going through a difficult time or thats just the way she boss doesbt see the full effect as she hides it. My work is never good enough and i have ALWAYS done something wrong. I usually return from holidays to a list of errors ive made. She doesnt help, suppirt or train me….she bekittles; argues and makes me feel like hell. How do i cope with it? Makes me so down but im now getting annoyed that i spend my home time venting to my partner about her. She consumes my life!! Which is probably exactly what she wants. Recently i have started ignoring her catty comments but inwardly i am getting destroyed. Even if i leave, will my shattered self esteem repair?

  12. How do I handle being best friends with them? I love having him as a friend, but when he gets into arguments a lot, he’s always right. Whenever I’m in an argument with him, I always step back from it and stop because he will always be right. But now, he’s saying that I always want to start a fight and how I always continue or further them. I hate getting into arguments with him, as you can see. How do I handle this situation without losing him as a best friend. I just want him to realize that it’s not my fault for these arguments and I don’t want him to get mad at me.

    • It’s not easy when they are always correct and on top of that if they are raising a child who is following in their footsteps. I say let it go. Yes, good friends are hard to come by but perhaps this one is never going to realize that it’s not your fault for the arguments and no matter what he will get mad at you. I wish you luck Austin

  13. Reblogged this on Mindspace Intuition and commented:
    This is a wonderful article on the Aargumentative personality” that is both enlightening and self-evaluative in nature. Are you an argumentative personality or do you know/live with/work with someone who is? How have you handled that?

  14. I have this friend who is very important to me yet we don’t often see eye to eye. She’s the type of person that cuts negativity out of her life no matter who it’s from. I often find her views questionable, and find it annoying that as a friend I’m supposedly obliged to follow her views, something people expected from me when we used to date.

    She also gets very immature though when she feels she has been insulted in some way. The other day I found it a bit silly how people (like her) found such importance in a video game, like it’s such a big part of their lives. I found it a waste of time but I still enjoy playing of course, just the people and experiences aren’t life changing. I made a Facebook post about it and she got ultra defensive and when I tried to tell her to just relax and that I didn’t mean to take potshots at her she continued being passive aggressive. Now this is the annoying part, when we get into arguments, she seems to think she can throw any insult at me and knows she can get away with it. While i have to hold myself back because I know she’ll just end the friendship right there and then. I’m rather antagonistic during arguments but I’m always the type to move on and forget Al ost immediately. It truly upsets me because i felt like we were having a really good streak of friendship, and she just tells me I have myself to blame for ruining it.

  15. This is so insightful! Thank you very much, to whoever wrote this article. I have to deal with a mother who has always drove me insane with her appetite for arguing. I myself, love to debate and read upon differing opinions. The thing is: I regard debate as a way of perceiving another person’s perspective and hopefully learning from it instead of pushing my views on them. My mom doesn’t argue about politics, morals or issues that are truly insightful. She clings on the trivial things that makes her heated and never seems to accept any mindset that differs from her. Her logic is always: I’m 20 years older than you, therefore I know everything and you know nothing. It’s really tiring because although I respect her some of her valid concerns, most times she is just bat shit crazy and makes no sense whatsoever! That along with the 3rd World family mentality and religious delusion just makes it extremely unbearable to hold a rational and sensible conversation with her. I am learning to handle that along with the emotional abuse, but I’m in for a long journey as long as I am living in her house. Once again, thank you!

  16. I have an adult son who is very argumentive and has to be right and on his terms. He is always blaming and fighting with others, is unemployed and homeless and does things that I am ashamed of and embarrassed about. He desperately needs mental health counseling but will not go. He argues with his father and does not listen to others. He wants people to listen to him, but he refuses to listen to them. I am at my wits end and so are many others. He is 46 years old and is extremely depressed and at times threatens suicide. However when he gets admitted to a mental health clinic it is usually for one night and they release him. Nothing gets done. Its always just financial according to him. Well if he would behave he wouldnt have financial problems.

    I have major health problems and I deeply love him. When he is calm he can be good.
    But when he goes out into left field we get scared.

    I don’t know what to do. Please pray for him. His father and I were never married and his dad abandoned and rejected us many years ago. His dad relates from a long distance. He treats his son horrible. and has created a lot of my sons emotional problems.

    I am 68 years old and still carry the scars of being an unwed mother. I was discharged from the military because of my pregnancy and have suffered for years from the emotional problems since than. I am now on a VA disability for PTSD -MST . Time does not heal all wounds.
    I have been an unwed mother, married for 22 years and than divorced; now a widow.
    I have 2 biological children; 6 step-children, one foster son, and many extended family.

    Yet I am alone most of the time because the only family member I have here is my son.

    And he drives me nuts. Always wanting people to help him, but never doing much for himself.

    Even tries to tell professional people how to do their jobs as if he is their supervisor, and one of them is a police detective ! YIKES ! I tell him to be more respectful but my son is a legal beagle and if people dont follow the law according to him… he gets upset and harrasses them.

    He is always gotta argue I get so tired of what he does. He has turned a lot of people against him, and makes people angry; than wonders why no one will help him or listen to him.

    Can anyone help me ? Please ? I dont want to see him do anything stupid. But I do worry when he gets really depressed.

    He means well but does not know how to handle himself. He is a social misfit big time.


    • I feel for your pain and frustration, and I hear how alone you are feeling. I’m sending love fm hugs to you because you deserve it! It sounds like your son might have Asperger’s syndrome. With behavior modification and mess he can learn to cope better. You do not have to live with his behavior, you can draw healthy boundaries he will fight at first, but will help him I. The end and give you the peace you deserve. I would join a community group like a church or group for widows or partners of adult children with Asperger’s (if that is the case) a d you will find the support you deserve. Best of luck to you.

  17. I liked the article, but was researching a more advanced problem. Some years ago I was shopping at an apothecary or drug store, when a female employee tried to draw me into an argument. I took the the ‘stay calm’ approach and went home. Within a week she had found someone accompanying her, followed me home and had her buddy-boyfriend-whatever threaten to kill me.

    At that point I stopped on being casual, moderate, and forgiving. A person I never met before freaks-out, stalks me, and plays hate-priestess sending supposed killers after me IS a bit extreme for civilized standards. Even worse is the process of gathering enough evidence to enter the Law.

    When the cause for the ‘Argue-Box of Pandora’ is born in a delusion or mistaken identity, the target actually has no way of knowing what is going on, nor why. But in black-humor I liked that pseudo-argument of her being unable to comply to the Law due being so busy pointing out my wrongs. I call it modern day Hauntings, a kind of cross-cultural revenge for science having proven the ghosts away.😉

  18. “Other people, not you, are always to blame for starting an argument.”
    So…this is the claim my friend has. But if I feel he is the problem then maybe I am the the cause for the argument. Nothing is concluded. Each feels the other is the argue starter. Ultimately…silence is golden.

  19. I tryed counseling. They gave me pills that made me feel worse

  20. This does sound like me but not in all situations, im not like it at work, with friends or in social situations its just with my boyfriend, i know that im doing it but just can’t seem to stop being extremely defensive and arguing over silly trivial things

  21. Lisa, it sounds like you don’t trust your boyfriend.
    You’re wanting him to explain himself to you because of your own insecurities. You need to cut the rope. He isn’t going to make you happy. You’re unhappy in yourself. Find things to do that you enjoy and start having fun for once. Quit relying on him to cure your emotional hurts that he cannot see. Once you let go, you’ll start to see his wonderful qualities and be able to enjoy him. You’re too connected to him and can’t see the forest for the trees.

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