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Just Say No to Toxic People

Strife: Bitter, sometimes violent conflict or dissension; an act of contention; exertion or contention for superiority

Toxic: Containing or showing poisonous material or content; extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful, e.g., toxic sarcasm

What are toxic people costing you?

There’s a saying that you become like the books you read, the TV/media you watch and read, and the company you keep. That holds true for everybody – your family, friends, co-workers, clients, and suppliers. The people around you have a significant impact on your well-being and success. Do they build you up and encourage you, or do they discourage and drain you? It’s essential to take responsibility for your personal space and relationships in life, as doing nothing can allow toxicity to seep into your life.

I have little time or patience for toxic people – (now called the Karen’s of the world)! While we all have our moments of slipping up and making mistakes, this article is about addressing the continual negative behaviors exhibited by certain individuals. These individuals are generally difficult to deal with and seem to thrive on drama, even in the simplest situations.

Toxic people can take various forms, so it’s crucial to sharpen your radar and be able to identify toxic waste. Here are some common toxic behaviors to watch out for:

  1. Character Disorder: In the book “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck, the author correctly identifies this condition as one of the most challenging psychological conditions to treat. Individuals with character disorders often blame others and external circumstances for their failures and problems, never taking personal responsibility. This refusal to acknowledge their contribution to their state of affairs makes it unlikely for them to ever change.
  2. Whiners and Complainers: Everything is a dramatic event for these individuals. They constantly find something to be unhappy about, draining the energy of those around them. It seems as if they relish in their misery and even seek attention through their complaining behavior.
  3. Critics: These malicious spirits boost themselves up by tearing others down. They enjoy gossiping, criticizing, judging, and denigrating anyone who spends time with them. Loyalty for them lies only in their own pain, which they feed by involving as many people as possible in their mudslinging and criticism.
  4. Always Have to Be Right or Constant Correctors: Some individuals, as described by Marshall Goldsmith in his book “Triggers,” have an incessant need to be right, even about trivial matters. Being around such people becomes draining and exhausting.
  5. Cellar Dwellers or Pessimists: Pessimists and those trapped in negativity often rely on others to validate their endless discord. These exhausting individuals paint negative mental pictures of past and future doom, solely for the sake of eliciting reactions. It’s important to ignore such bottom feeders and refuse to entertain their obnoxious speculations.

Toxic individuals come in many forms, including the following:

  • The Pathological Liar
  • The Putdown Artist
  • The Hatemonger
  • The Instigator
  • The Gossip or Blabbermouth
  • The Backstabber
  • The Bully
  • The Drama Queen or King

It is crucial to avoid toxic individuals whenever possible. If that is not possible, minimize your contact with them and take the following steps:

  • When you must interact with toxic people, keep the conversation strictly business.
  • Be polite and cordial, but avoid being overly friendly.
  • Never express an opinion, reveal a weakness, or discuss others with toxic people
  • Do not share your personal business with toxic people. Politely decline to answer their personal questions.
  • Refrain from allowing toxic people to share their personal business with you.
  • When toxic people try to spread gossip, change the subject. If they persist, firmly express your disinterest, and if necessary, walk away.
  • Show no interest in their negativity and refuse to engage with their toxic behavior.
  • Avoid introducing others (if possible) to toxic people.
  • When appropriate, share with toxic individuals the nature and impact of their behavior. It may be that no one has been brave enough to point out their destructive actions to them.

Research and studies confirm the damage that toxic individuals can inflict on others and teams. Numerous studies have shown that toxic people in the workplace can have detrimental effects on employee well-being, team morale, productivity, and organizational success. These individuals can create a hostile work environment, leading to increased stress, burnout, and decreased job satisfaction among their colleagues. Additionally, research has linked exposure to toxic people to negative mental health outcomes, such as anxiety and depression.

It’s important to note that just as harmful viruses require a human host to exist and thrive, negative states require the consent of human beings to carry out their menacing mission. Negative thoughts hold no power over us unless we allow them to influence our actions. Therefore, it is crucial to withdraw any unknowing permission granted to toxic individuals, preventing their entry into your life.

Years ago, it was mistakenly taught that the customer is always right. However, toxic clients can have a significant impact on individuals and organizations. High-maintenance and consistently toxic clients can drain energy, create a negative work environment, and hinder productivity. Therefore, it is essential to recognize when a client’s behavior becomes toxic and, if possible, take the necessary steps to minimize or terminate the business relationship.

Toxic people can have a detrimental impact on individuals and teams. It is crucial to identify toxic behaviors and take proactive measures to limit or avoid interactions with toxic individuals. Building a toxic-free zone in your personal and professional life can lead to increased fulfillment, purpose, and passion. Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive individuals fosters an environment conducive to personal growth and success.

To aid you on your journey of self-discovery and creating a toxic-free zone, the following CRG resources are recommended: “The Quest For Purpose” book and ecourse, Values Preference Indicator and What do you really Value ecourse, Self-Worth Inventory, Stress Indicator and Health Planner and ecourse, and Personal Style Indicator and ecourse.

Action Steps:

  1. At this very moment, think of all your current relationships.
  2. Are any of those people ongoing toxic personalities in your life?
  3. To identify toxic individuals, look out for behaviors such as blaming others, constant complaining, criticizing, always needing to be right, pessimism, gossiping, backstabbing, bullying, and creating drama.
  4. Reflect on how being around these toxic people makes you feel. Do you feel drained, stressed, or unhappy?
  5. Consider the impact of a toxic environment on your fulfillment, purpose, and passion. How has it affected your well-being and personal growth?
  6. Make a decision to limit or avoid interaction with your current toxic contacts. Set boundaries and prioritize your mental and emotional well-being.
  7. When you are around toxic individuals, practice discipline. Refrain from participating in their spreading of negativity. Ignore them, don’t respond, and don’t engage.
  8. Reflect on your own behavior. Are you exhibiting toxic traits? Seek feedback from others to gain awareness. If needed, invest in self-help resources, seek the assistance of a trusted friend, or consider professional help to work on personal growth and behavior change.
  9. Life will always present challenges, but you don’t need to make it more difficult by allowing toxic individuals into your circle. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people who contribute to your growth and well-being.

Remember, it’s essential to take responsibility for your relationships and create a positive and supportive environment. By saying no to toxic people, you open the door to personal growth, success, and a life lived with purpose. Embrace the journey and enjoy the fulfillment it brings.

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!


Ken Keis