Dealing with entitled people can be challenging, as they often believe they deserve special treatment or privileges without having to put in any effort or show any appreciation. Their behavior can be frustrating and even harmful to those around them, especially if they expect others to cater to their every whim. However, there are strategies that can be used to cope with entitled people, both in personal and professional settings. My Savvy Psychologist predecessor Dr. Jade Wu talked about dealing with entitled people back in 2020. Today, we will explore some of these strategies and offer tips for dealing with entitled individuals.
What is entitlement?
Entitlement is the belief that one is inherently deserving of certain privileges, opportunities, or treatment, without necessarily having to work for or earn them. This belief tends to stem from their perceptions of themselves and the world around them. This sense of entitlement can manifest in a variety of ways, including entitlement to praise and recognition, to certain positions or roles, to certain resources or benefits, to special treatment, and to respect and deference.
Research has found that entitlement is associated with a range of negative outcomes, including decreased satisfaction with life, increased levels of stress and anxiety, and decreased interpersonal relationships. Entitled individuals may also experience difficulties in achieving their goals and in maintaining positive relationships with others.
Entitled people can have a significant impact on others, both individually and within broader social contexts. If you know an entitled person, you might already know some of the ways in which entitled behavior can affect others:
Increased stress and anxiety: Interacting with entitled individuals can be stressful and anxiety-inducing, as they may make unreasonable demands or exhibit a lack of consideration for others’ needs and feelings.
Decreased productivity: Entitled individuals may expect others to do their work for them or to prioritize their needs over other tasks, leading to decreased productivity for those around them.
Decreased job satisfaction: Working with entitled individuals can lead to decreased job satisfaction and feelings of frustration, as others may feel that their own efforts and contributions are not being recognized or valued.
Decreased trust: Entitled behavior can erode trust within social relationships, as individuals may become less willing to rely on or collaborate with entitled individuals.
Increased conflict: Entitled individuals may be more likely to engage in conflict or create interpersonal tension, as they may struggle to accept criticism or compromise.
Decreased motivation: Entitled individuals may create a culture of resentment or negativity, which can decrease motivation and engagement among those around them.
Decreased well-being: Entitled individuals may create an atmosphere of negativity or hostility, which can lead to decreased well-being and feelings of dissatisfaction among those around them.
Overall, the impact of entitled people on others can be significant, and it is important to recognize and address entitled behavior in order to promote healthy and productive social relationships.
Recognize the signs of entitlement
The first step in dealing with entitled people is to recognize the signs of entitlement. As you all know if you listen to the Savvy Psychology podcast, awareness is a skill! Entitled people often believe that they are special or unique in some way and expect others to recognize this. They may demand special treatment or privileges, expect success or recognition without putting in any effort, and show a lack of empathy toward others. Some other common signs of entitlement include:
- Expecting others to meet their needs without considering the needs of others
- Refusing to take responsibility for their actions and blaming others for their problems
- Feeling resentful or angry when things don’t go their way
- Acting as if they are always right and others are wrong
- Belittling or criticizing others for not meeting their expectations
- Refusing to listen to feedback or constructive criticism
Recognizing these signs can help you identify entitled people and develop coping strategies for dealing with them. Here are my 10 tips for dealing with entitlement.
Assertiveness is the ability to express one’s needs and boundaries in a clear and respectful manner. Assertiveness can help you communicate your expectations to entitled people while also maintaining respect for the individual. Assertive communication can also help you feel more confident and in control of the situation. You may feel the urge to be passive with entitled folks as your default to avoid further conflict. However, remember that conflict is not inherently bad. There are many situations where conflict would be preferred as it will allow for effective problem-solving. For instance, if I never say anything, how do I know that they are treating me this way purposefully? There are times when things are brought to someone’s attention and they alter their behavior. Secondarily, if I am assertive and the person responds poorly, then that also provides me with vital information for how to proceed. Finally, if you get a pattern of giving in in response to this behavior, you’re setting yourself up to have increased difficulties over time.
Entitled individuals may push boundaries and try to take advantage of others, so it’s important to establish clear boundaries. Boundaries are the limits you set for yourself and others in terms of what you are willing to tolerate and what you are not. It’s important to be firm and assertive when setting boundaries and to follow through with consequences when they are violated. It’s also crucial to communicate effectively. For example, if an entitled colleague expects you to do their work for them, you can set a boundary by saying something like, “I’m sorry, but I can’t take on your workload right now. I have my own tasks to complete.” Setting boundaries can help you avoid being taken advantage of by entitled individuals and is empowering for you in the long run.
In this follow-up to Boundaries 101, Dr. Monica Johnson goes over six practical rules to follow in establishing boundaries in your relationships. Listen in this player:
Validate their emotions
It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s not! Entitled people often feel entitled because they believe that their feelings and needs are not being taken seriously. Validating their emotions can help de-escalate the situation and create a more productive communication environment. For example, try saying “I can understand why you might be frustrated, but I need you to understand my perspective as well, so that perhaps we can find a reasonable compromise for both of us.” This can help demonstrate empathy and understanding while also setting clear boundaries.
Avoid reinforcing entitlement
But we only want to validate the aspects of a person’s perspective that are actually valid! Which means that the validation has to be more nuanced. Entitled individuals often feel validated by others who cater to their demands. It’s important to avoid enabling entitled behavior by refusing to comply with unreasonable requests or demands. By setting firm limits and refusing to enable entitled behavior, individuals can help entitled folks learn that they aren’t owed special treatment.
Avoid engaging in power struggles
Entitled people often have a strong desire for control and may engage in power struggles to maintain their sense of entitlement. Avoiding power struggles can help prevent the situation from escalating and promote more productive communication. For example, instead of arguing over who is right or wrong, focusing on finding a solution that meets everyone’s needs can help shift the conversation from a power struggle to a collaborative problem-solving approach.
Entitled individuals may be struggling with deep-seated insecurities or feelings of inadequacy that fuel their sense of entitlement. Practicing empathy and trying to understand the source of their entitlement can help individuals communicate with entitled people in a more effective and compassionate manner. This is definitely a moment where I place myself in the other person’s shoes. This requires me to think about how I would actually respond if I saw the world the way they did or had the same experiences. When I’ve done that, I’ve been able to have more compassion and this coupled with appropriate communication skills and boundaries is effective.
Consistency is key when dealing with entitled individuals. It’s important to set boundaries and expectations and to consistently follow through with consequences when they are violated. This can help entitled individuals understand that their behavior has consequences and that they must respect the boundaries and expectations of others. Consistency is hard in any situation and when we are discussing interpersonal relationships this seems to be elevated. It can be tiresome initially, but you really do have to be a broken record and mean what you say to people.
It might go without saying, but dealing with entitled people can be emotionally exhausting and stressful. Practicing self-care such as getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and engaging in hobbies or activities that bring joy and relaxation can help individuals cope with stress and maintain their emotional well-being.
Talking to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional can provide emotional support and perspective when dealing with entitled people. Seeking support can also help individuals develop coping strategies and problem-solving skills to deal with entitled behavior more effectively.
I know that some of you may be thinking—but why can’t they just change so I don’t have to implement these tips?! I am sorry to say, but that’s like asking it to stop raining because you don’t want to use an umbrella. In our environments, we will always have to cope with unpleasantness, discomfort, and even potentially harmful elements. You do have some say, but it’s ultimately unavoidable. Using the rain metaphor, if rain really bothers me that much, I probably wouldn’t choose to live in the northwest where it’s likely to rain more often. However, even if I choose to live in Arizona, at some point it’s going to rain and I’ll have to get out my umbrella or simply panic and choose not to leave my home. Either way, you have options, but the option of no rain is not something that is always available to us. All that being said, I wish you nothing but sunshine.
All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.