9 Signs You Are a Polarizing Person (and What It Means to Be One)

Published by
Janey Davies, B.A. (Hons)

Has anyone ever described you as a polarizing person? What did they mean by that? Is it a good or bad thing?

Polarizing person definition

Polarizing people have robust opinions they are not afraid of sharing. They can appear passionate and heartfelt, but also abrasive and arrogant. It all depends on whether you agree with them.

Here are 9 signs you are a polarizing person:

1. You’re opinionated and not afraid to speak your mind

Polarizing people don’t sit on the fence. They are not afraid of giving unpopular views that go against the majority, and they will challenge authority and tradition. This sparks debate and lively conversations (which is good).

However, very extreme opinions can cause divide, especially if the person tries to impose their views on the group. Problems occur when someone steamrollers their unpopular agenda to the detriment of all others.

2. People love or hate you

Because you speak your mind, people either get you, or don’t understand you. To some, you’re the funniest person they know. Others can’t stand being around you.

There’s no middle ground with polarizing people. Your friends will passionately defend you, whereas others think you’re rude, disrespectful, arrogant, attention-seeking, and loud. Friends of yours love spending time with you. They don’t understand why others don’t like you.

3. You don’t care what people think about you

Are you dismissive of others? Do you have a small circle of close friends? A polarizing person doesn’t suck up to those around them. They don’t bother with small talk or talking rubbish to be polite.

As such, you either end up as a close friend or misunderstood. You couldn’t give a monkey about others unless you care about them, but that doesn’t happen often enough to bother you.

4. You stand out from the crowd

Controversy does not frighten polarizing people. They don’t care if you feel uncomfortable. They like to disrupt the status quo.

Sometimes they’re rebellious, other times charming and persuasive, but never boring. They leave an impression wherever they go. Whether it’s their outrageous dress sense, dry sense of humor, or outlandish views. Polarizing people are unique and divide opinion.

5. You push boundaries

You’re not afraid to push boundaries or cross the line. As a polarizing person, you ask the difficult or impertinent questions, because you’d rather disrupt the peace than settle for a peaceful time.

Perhaps you don’t stop the discussion when it gets awkward? You are the person sticking their head above the parapet or disagreeing with the group. There’s an edge with a polarizing person which challenges others. You poke and prod until you get a reaction. You want to shake up the world.

6. Some people think you are arrogant

Polarizing people are confident, but can appear arrogant. You have the courage of your convictions and make them known. However, not everyone shares your views. Those with decidedly opposing views may feel disrespected, abused, or dismissed.

7. You are not afraid to say no

Call it arrogance or self-confidence, but you don’t feel the need to please people. If you don’t want to do something, you won’t. Having firm principles won’t allow you to agree to something or stay silent.

You’re not bothered about what people think. Even if it means alienating yourself from popular opinion, you’d rather be an outsider than conform to the group.

8. You think in black and white

The word polarizing means ‘to divide into two opposing groups or sets of opinions or beliefs.’ People with polarizing views can have extreme opinions. They sit at opposite ends of the middle road most of us occupy.

There’s little grey area or nuance in your beliefs. Things are one thing or another. A person is good or bad, but never a mix of the two. However, if taken to the extreme, black and white thinking can be dangerous.

9. You don’t go with the flow

Polarizing people march to the beat of their own drum. They don’t follow popular opinion just because everyone else does. They are the ones more likely to disagree with a group, even if they are the first to speak out. It takes a lot of courage to put forward an opposing viewpoint against the majority.

For instance, the Asch Line Study tests conformity in groups. Do people go along with the majority consensus, even if the majority are obviously wrong? A polarizing person wouldn’t; they’d speak up.

Why do people become polarizing?

As with all character traits, there are benefits and disadvantages to being a polarizing person. Pushing boundaries, encouraging debate and standing up for what’s right are admiral qualities. Then again, polarizing views can lead to extremism, prejudice, and a ‘them and us’ scenario.

So, why are some people polarizing?

  • You like drawing attention

In a society where we are all supposed to be special and exciting, having polarizing opinions is an easy way to stand out from the crowd.

  • Society is becoming more polarized

When moderation is falling out of fashion, particularly in the political arena, extreme views are easier to understand than the nuances of the middle ground.

  • Social media encourages polarizing views

Social media is an ideal platform for polarizing people. Social media taps into our unconscious biases and amplifies them. And the comfort of sitting behind a keyboard allows us to voice our more extreme views.

  • Like minds encourage polarizing behavior

Studies show that when groups of like-minded people form, their beliefs become more entrenched and extreme. Group influence is persuasive and powerful.

Humans are social beings and need to belong to a group. The power of a group is so strong it can influence those with different beliefs.

Final thoughts

A polarizing person can be a good thing. We need people who stand up for their beliefs and go against popular opinion. But sometimes polarizing people are dangerous. Polarized thinking traps us into a fixed mindset. Life isn’t black and white, and our opinion isn’t the only one that matters.

If you think you are a polarizing person, listening and finding common ground allows a connection that makes you open to alternative opinions. And understanding that you can be wrong about things gives you the chance to be heard about the things you are right about.



View Comments

  • Excellent!

    The world NEEDS as many polarizers a can be had. Polarizers are the thinkers; the leaders, the innovators, the creators. There are no stupid, tepid or cowardly polarizers. Virtually all of them are moral people who are not afraid of TRUTH and will act as Instruments of God's Will regardless of the consequences. They are not followers. They can manage their own lives and take care of others. If you are such a person, be proud of it. You will prevail.

Published by
Janey Davies, B.A. (Hons)