10 Signs Of A Petty Person And How To Deal With Them

Dealing with a petty person can suck every bit of energy and happiness out of your soul. They’re draining to be around and really toxic to boot, but you might not even recognize them at first — that’s how sly and underhanded their methods can be. If you notice a person having these behaviors, they’re definitely pretty spiteful.

1. They’re easily offended by everything.

People who sweat the small stuff, to the point where every little thing seems like a personal jab, often fall into the petty category. They’re the ones who might take a generic joke or a passing comment as a direct insult. It’s a hair-trigger sensitivity that turns casual conversations into minefields.

2. They want to get revenge when they think they’ve been wronged.

If someone always seems to be keeping score and itching to settle the score, that’s petty behavior in action. It’s not just about standing up for themselves; it’s about getting even. Whether it’s a perceived slight or an actual error, their focus is on retribution, not resolution.

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4. They hold grudges over the tiniest things.

A petty person holds onto minor slights with an iron grip, often making mountains out of molehills. The grudges are long-lived and can be brought up repeatedly, even if everyone else has moved on. These prolonged grievances are less about seeking justice and more about not letting go of hurt feelings.

5. They’re extremely competitive.

There’s healthy competition, and then there’s pettiness. Petty individuals view every situation as a contest and they need to come out on top. Their competitiveness goes beyond striving for personal bests; it’s about outdoing others, even in situations where competition is neither healthy nor necessary.

6. They’re passive-aggressive or use the silent treatment.

Those who lean towards pettiness often resort to passive-aggressive behavior instead of addressing issues head-on. They might make sarcastic comments, leave snide notes, or employ the silent treatment as a way of expressing their displeasure. It’s an indirect approach to conflict that avoids direct confrontation but creates an uncomfortable atmosphere for everyone involved.

7. They nitpick over the smallest details.

Petty individuals have a tendency to focus on insignificant mistakes or flaws, often blowing them out of proportion. They can make a big deal out of a misplaced comma in an email or a slightly misaligned picture frame. It’s an attention to trivialities that can feel overbearing and unnecessary, and often leaves people walking on eggshells around them.

8. You find yourself being petty around them.

Petty behavior can be contagious. You might notice that you’re getting caught up in the pettiness when around them, sweating the small stuff or engaging in gossip. It’s a sign their behavior is influencing the social environment, dragging others into the minutiae that wouldn’t normally be a blip on their radar.

9. They’re mean and vindictive.

When pettiness escalates, it can manifest as outright meanness or vindictiveness. People showing these signs might seek to hurt others in response to real or imagined slights. Their actions are often disproportionate to the situation, and they may take pleasure in the misfortune of others, a behavior known as schadenfreude.

10. They’re always spreading gossip, most of it untrue.

A hallmark of pettiness is the love of gossip, especially the kind that tarnishes another’s reputation. A petty person thrives on the drama that gossip creates and often isn’t concerned with the truth of the matter. Spreading rumors becomes a way to wield power or control within a group, even if it’s at someone else’s expense.

11. They openly hate on people they’re jealous of.

Petty people often wear their jealousy on their sleeve, not shy about showing disdain for those they envy. They might make snarky comments about someone’s new car or roll their eyes at a colleague’s praise. Instead of feeling motivated or happy for others’ successes, they view them as a spotlight on their own perceived shortcomings. This behavior is a defense mechanism, a way to cope with the discomfort of envy by putting others down.

How to deal with a petty person

1. Don’t take it personally — it has nothing to do with you.

Remember, a petty person’s behavior is a reflection of their own issues, not yours. If they’re getting under your skin with their trivial complaints or passive-aggressiveness, breathe deep and remind yourself that this is their problem, not a measure of your worth. It’s their insecurities talking, so try not to let it become your inner voice.

2. Don’t react (because that’s what they want).

Petty people often thrive on the reactions they provoke. If they sense they’ve hit a nerve, they might see it as a win. Stay cool, keep your responses minimal and non-emotional. By not giving them the reaction they’re looking for, you’re defusing their efforts and maintaining control over the situation.

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4. Spend as little time around them as possible.

If you can, minimize your interactions with the petty person. Limiting your exposure to their negativity can help preserve your own mental space. When you do have to be around them, keep the conversation to the point and focus on the task at hand. It’s about setting boundaries for your own well-being.

5. Don’t let them drag you down to their level.

At the end of the day, a petty person would love you to act exactly like them so that they can use it against you. Don’t give them the pleasure. Utilize every ounce of self-control you have to avoid stooping to their level. You’re better than that.

Piper Ryan is a NYC-based writer and matchmaker who works to bring millennials who are sick of dating apps and the bar scene together in an organic and efficient way. To date, she's paired up more than 120 couples, many of whom have gone on to get married. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Cut, and many more.

In addition to runnnig her own business, Piper is passionate about charity work, advocating for vulnerable women and children in her local area and across the country. She is currently working on her first book, a non-fiction collection of stories focusing on female empowerment.