Here is how Jodie Gale, M.A., a psychotherapist and life coach in Sydney, Australia, describes toxic people:
“Often the person is deeply wounded and for whatever reason. They are not yet able to take responsibility for their wounding, their feelings, their needs, and their subsequent problems in life. They may over-identify and act out the parts of who they are, such as the victim, bully, perfectionist, or martyr…. They act from these parts trying to get their needs met, albeit in an extremely unhealthy way.”
Toxic people could turn up in a business environment or in our personal lives.
These people usually display poisonous behavior which is dangerous because it could have a hugely negative impact on your self-esteem. It steals your energy, and doesn’t just cause a personal hurt. It threatens your overall well being. Toxicity is a source of stress and frustration. It is deeply disturbing because it could also influence the way others see you. And the worst part is that toxic people are not easy to recognize since they try to hide their true colors.
That is why we have prepared a list of 7 telltales signs that could truly reveal someone’s toxic personality.
1. They lack empathy
Toxic people are too busy thinking of themselves, and they’ll seldom show any interest or concern for another person. They’ll be happy to tell stories about themselves only without asking anything about the person they are talking to.
Empathy is not a quality of a toxic person. They do not know or care to walk in other people’s shoes. They only believe in their point of view are not interested in another side’s opinion. Toxic people don’t care for other people’s feelings. What they want is to achieve their personal goals so that’s why they would try to gain control over others through manipulations.
For example, in a friendship, they might ask you to babysit their children even if it’s not convenient for you. They could expect you to change your plans to meet them or putting you down by criticizing your looks, personality or mothering skills.
2. They need to be right. Always!
Toxic people are the kind of people that have such high-esteem of themselves that they would assume they are never wrong. They would argue their point of view no matter how unbelievable it may sound. They usually insist that they are right until you give up out of exhaustion and agree with them.
And it is never a good idea to publicly doubt a toxic person because they are always prepared for a fight. And you don’t want to deal with such a bitter adversary.
If you recognize that someone is trying to control you, you’d better distance yourself from this person. Don’t be naive thinking that a toxic person’s good side would sooner or later prevail. The sad truth is that toxic people usually don’t have many positive qualities!
3. They undermine others.
Toxic people adore bragging. They enjoy talking about themselves and their success. They are full of themselves to the point they might become offensive and undermining towards others. So, if someone is telling you how good they are while they are trying to put you down, you have encountered a toxic person. These people will tell you about their so-called-perfect lives and wait for your admiration. Then they will pounce on the opportunity to make you feel like you are somehow inferior to them. If this is the case, you’d better quietly go from this relationship.
4. They adore drama
Ever had a friend who is regularly struggling with irresolvable problems? They get robbed on the street; they get dumped at their wedding because their best friend ran off with their husband… it seems that someone always rains on their parade.
But actually, they enjoy the attention and sympathy they get from people who feel compassionate about their situation. We have all had unlucky experiences, but toxic people tend to dramatize situations and even attract drama through their negative thoughts and perceptions.
Whatever the reason, you’ll usually see that toxic people live on drama, and will dwell on the negative experience – proving to the world that they are real victims and sucking the positive energy from the people who are around them.
5. They’re not kind
Although toxic people can be beautiful and charming, this is a mask that they would put on to achieve their personal goals. If someone is useful to them or they want something from a person or a friend, they may behave friendly, flattering even. But it’s all fake.
The best way to understand what someone’s real character is to pay attention to how they treat others, especially people who aren’t useful to them and never will be.
So, watch if your friend or partner is kind to the waiter at the restaurant. To the postman? The cleaner in the building they live in? Other peoples’ children?
If you want to find out whether you are dealing with a toxic person, observe how they behave with the ones who mean nothing to them. Just pay attention to how polite, kind or thoughtful they are (or not). And if you notice that their behavior is rather rude, well, you might well be dealing with a toxic person.
6. Toxic people talk bad things about others.
They start gossips, tell others’ secrets, and try to offend or undermine people they feel afraid of or people who are better than them. If someone is continually talking about the problems or failures of another person, you have most likely been dealing with a toxic person.
So if you ever come across someone who is happy and satisfied with running other people down, you should be extremely careful. Don’t allow such people to influence your opinion about others. It’s very likely that they’re saying just as nasty things about you when your back is turned.
People lie from time to time for unimportant things. Small lies might prevent us from getting involved in problems or spare our loved people’s feelings. However, if you feel that someone is misleading you too often, this is a red flag. If your partner or friend is withholding information or twisting the facts, then you’d better leave the relationship! As previously mentioned toxic people manipulate others to fulfill their personal goals, so they won’t hesitate to tell lies to achieve what they want.
First and foremost, you should identify these individuals in your life and understand in what way exactly they have been controlling or manipulating you. And you should make them aware of the fact you know they are trying to manipulate you.
A good way to avoid getting too deep in a relationship with toxic people only by setting limits with them and distancing yourself when necessary.
For example, if your poisonous friend is always complaining to you about their problems and expects you to show empathy and compassion, you can set your limits by asking them how they intend to fix the problem. They will either shut up or redirect the conversation towards finding a solution.
Another good option is to find activities that distance you from the toxic friend or environment. Join a club, take a yoga class. But most importantly, try keeping your life free from people who mistreat you or don’t respect you.
Do you know someone who is toxic? How do you deal with them?