How to Deal with Entitled People

Nov 09, 2022

What does entitlement mean? The word literally means that someone has the right to something. However, entitled people believe that they automatically have the right to something.

When you go to the store and pick out some groceries, you hand over some money and then you are entitled to those groceries. You have the right to take them home. Entitlement functions such that someone may believe that they have the right to take the groceries home without paying.

There is a big difference between need and entitlement. We all have needs in life. As loving people, sometimes we may confuse entitlement and need. The neediest ones are the ones who have the least ability for those groceries. They have the least ability to “own the title” to things that they need. There are steps that must be taken to meet those needs, whether that is getting a job to earn the money to pay for those things, or choose a support service of some kind that can help you meet those needs. But the point is, there is no scenario where you can lawfully walk out of the grocery store with groceries that you haven’t paid someone for.

An entitled person believes that the world exists for them. It is an egocentric, self-centered way of seeing the world.

So, we go back to the difference between justifiable, authentic needs, and entitled behavior.

A young baby needs someone to feed them because they cannot do it on their own.

An entitled teenager throws a tantrum when their parent won’t make them a sandwich even though they are perfectly capable of doing it themselves.

You can see this in a marriage. A husband might demand sex from his wife because he feels entitled to it all the time since they are together.

You may see this between siblings. You can see one sibling relying on the other for money and always coming to them when they need something.

In these examples, when the wife or the sibling say no, they get punished for it. The other person believes that they deserve to have their needs met (by someone else) all the time. They fail to realize that the other person does not exist solely to satisfy their needs. They aren’t contributing in the way that will make it an equitable or fair exchange. They are taking.

So what do you do with this?

If you say no to someone who is not doing their part when they are perfectly able to, and the entitled person acts like a victim or becomes enraged:

People without boundaries will give in.

People with boundaries will make sure that the person is taking responsibility for their part.

What happens when you indulge the entitlement of others?

You might do this because you believe you are helping, or you want to keep getting along. But you are slowly losing the territory of your life. When you give to a needy person who is not entitled, they feel grateful. When you give to an entitled person, they are not grateful. They just think you should have already done that for them anyways. They believe they deserved it.

So how do you determine whether someone is entitled?

When you say no to them, do they get angry? If so, probably entitled. Sad? Ask a few more questions, and see what’s behind the sadness. Do they respect your no? This person is acting without entitlement.

You can never give enough to an entitled person. Nothing will ever be enough for them. But a grateful person gives back when they can. They are thankful.

How to Change an Entitled Person

Some people have been trained to believe that they are entitled. Others have always given them what they want. They have been overly catered to. These people may not be fully aware that there are other people besides them who have needs.

Sit down and talk with the person about their behavior. If they are empathetic and wise, they will be grateful that you are telling them how they are affecting you so that they can change their behavior. If they are entitled, they will get mad. They will attack you for saying no.

When this happens, do not enter into the cycle of giving in or justifying your ‘no.’ Stay firm with your boundaries. Empathize with their rage, but still let them know that you can’t keep putting up with this.

Hold your boundary. Don’t go on the counterattack. Offer to help them and walk them through their anger. Try to have a conversation with the person to see if you can resolve the issue. It is also important to stay calm and avoid getting into an argument. This will only make the situation worse. If the person is being unreasonable, try to walk away from the situation. This will show that you are not going to tolerate their behavior.