What is it with people who can’t help but pick fights?

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I know a few people who have an uncanny ability to start a fight over the most petty, meaningless, insignificant (hang on…where’s my thesaurus), picayune (Yeah baby, now THAT’S a fancy word) issues. For example, a family member vehemently refused to believe that pasta did not originate in Italy. Italians did a good job perfecting it, but they didn’t create it. You can show him pages of research – the rest of the world is wrong. I found these other gems online (Thank you http://notalwaysright.com/):

Customer: “Excuse me, miss? I’d like a $20 iTunes card, but there are none here.”
Me: “Oh, yes. Unfortunately we haven’t received that shipment yet. But we do have the $10 cards.”
Customer: *frustrated* “But I want a $20 card.”
Me: “Well, ma’am, you could always buy two $10 cards instead.”
Customer: *yelling* “That doesn’t equal 20 dollars!” *storms out of the store*


Customer: “Hey, there’s glass all over your parking lot.”
Me: “What happened?”
Customer: “Oh, I dropped my beer.”
Me: “Okay.” (I grab the broom and dustpan and tell my co-worker to mind the till while I sweep it up. As I’m on the way out the door, the customer stops me.)
Customer: “So, can I get another bottle of beer?”
Me: “Why wouldn’t you get another bottle of beer?”
Customer: “No, I mean, don’t I get a free one?”
Me: “Why would you get a free beer?”
Customer: “I dropped it in your parking lot!”

Me: “Ma’am, I need your area code as well.”
Customer: “I’m in Austin, Texas! What do you think it is?”
Me: “Well, because of multiple cellphone companies with their own area codes, I don’t automatically know your area code. I’ll need you to provide it.”
Customer: “Where are you?”
Me: “I’m in Ohio.”
Customer: *becomes hysterical* “Oh my God! Oh my God! We need jobs here and they keep outsourcing and sending all of our jobs overseas!”
Me: “Ma’am, I promise you, Ohio is a state.”
Customer: “No, it isn’t! It’s not in Austin!”

Why are some people so confrontational while others are not? It’s not as simple as having a short temper. When I compared argumentative people to non-argumentative people on various personality traits, here’s what I discovered:

  • Argumentative people score lower on impulse control: They tend to do or say things without thinking of the potential consequences. Essentially, they think in the moment rather than thinking ahead.
  • Argumentative people score lower on resilience: Basically, they don’t deal with stress or hardship very well and as a result, take their frustration out on others.
  • Argumentative people score lower on problem-solving: The inability to effectively solve life’s problems can lead to stress and, as indicated above, a greater likelihood that these frustrations will be taken out on others. It goes without saying that yelling until you get your way would not be considered one of the steps in the problem-solving process.
  • Argumentative people score lower on self-esteem: What’s the “best” way to make yourself feel slightly better about your own shortcomings and the things you hate about yourself? Point out other people’s shortcomings. Unfortunately, I’ve come across a lot of people who like to nitpick about the dumbest things. Once I got to know them, it became clear to me that they struggled with a lot of self-esteem issues.
  • Argumentative people score lower on contentment: This doesn’t come as much of a surprise. If you’re angry most of the time and complaining about your life (and everyone in it), you’re less likely to be happy.
  • Argumentative people have a less positive mindset: I don’t think it would be fair to say that every pessimist is a curmudgeon, but when you make it a habit of only seeing the worst in others, how could you not want to pick a fight with people? And if someone called me a cynical curmudgeon, well, I’d be pretty angry once I looked it up in the dictionary.
  • Argumentative people score lower on self-motivation: This one stumped me at first until I took a closer look at how argumentative people deal with situations that require a great deal of drive and inner strength. They tend to become easily frustrated when faced with obstacles, and struggle to dig deep to find the motivation to push forward. When you give up too easily, this can result in a lot of guilt and shame – and sometimes, we turn those feelings outward (in the form of anger) rather than face them.
  • Argumentative people score lower on flexibility: When I see a 2-year-old having a temper tantrum because they didn’t get something they wanted I think two things: 1) “I feel so bad for those parents.” 2) “If I ever did that when I was a kid, my mom would give me a good whack. Italian moms refuse to take any crap.” When I see an adult having an “adult” version of a temper tantrum (i.e. “We’re doing it my way or else!”). I think one thing: “Why is this bleepity bleep so damn inflexible?” People who can’t adjust, adapt, and compromise when life doesn’t give them what they want are in for a long, disappointing life filled with a whole lot of conflict.
  • Argumentative people score lower on conflict-resolution: Well this probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you, but here’s the twist: I assessed two aspects of conflict resolution: knowledge (knowing what to do/say to resolve an argument) and practice (putting that knowledge into action). There was a gap of 11 points between knowledge and practice for argumentative people…the lower score was on the practice aspect. This means that even though they know how to resolve a certain conflict effectively and maturely, they don’t always do so. Hey – it’s a lot easier to call someone a bleepity bleep than say, “I’m sorry – you’re right.”

I leave you with this image to inspire some inner peace:

ImageInsightfully yours,

Queen D

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One thought on “What is it with people who can’t help but pick fights?

  1. Pingback: Because I’m happy! Top 10 traits that improve life satisfaction | Queendom Blog

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