How to spot a toxic person

Toxic Person: Signs to Look For

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

In this Article

  • What Is a Toxic Person?
  • Signs of a Toxic Person
  • Dealing With Toxic People

What Is a Toxic Person?

If you know someone who’s difficult and causes a lot of conflict in your life, you may be dealing with a toxic person. These people can create lots of stress and unpleasantness for you and others, not to mention emotional or even physical pain. 

A toxic person is anyone whose behavior adds negativity and upset to your life. Many times, people who are toxic are dealing with their own stresses and traumas. To do this, they act in ways that don’t present them in the best light and usually upset others along the way.

Toxicity in people isn’t considered a mental disorder. But there could be underlying mental problems that cause someone to act in toxic ways, including a personality disorder.

Here are some warning signs to watch out for if you think you’re dealing with a toxic person:

  • You feel like you’re being manipulated into something you don’t want to do.
  • You’re constantly confused by the person’s behavior. 
  • You feel like you deserve an apology that never comes.
  • You always have to defend yourself to this person.
  • You never feel fully comfortable around them.
  • You continually feel bad about yourself in their presence.

If you’ve experienced these feelings around someone, they may be toxic. If you constantly have such emotions, you may want to change the relationship or stop the relationship entirely. 

Signs of a Toxic Person

Just like there are signs you’re around a toxic person because of how the person makes you feel, there are signs seen in the person themselves that highlight their toxicity.

The most common signs include:


Part of being human is having ups and downs, good times, and bad. But a toxic person is almost never consistent. Their behavior is erratic. They don’t follow through on their commitments or promises. You never know what they’re going to do next. Such inconsistency is very hard when you’re trying to be there for someone. They can be elated with you one minute, writing you off the next. 

They Always Need Your Attention

Have you noticed that the person always needs something from you? Whether it’s constant phone calls, texts, or showing up at your door, they always need emotional support. And they’re probably not being supportive to you in return. They take all that you have without giving much back. They have a heightened level of self-interest, a need to showcase their own greatness to receive affirmation. This can be associated with narcissistic personality disorder.

There Is Always Drama

Ever notice how drama seems to follow some people? It’s likely not a coincidence. Toxic people thrive in dramatic situations. They inflame emotions and create conflict. They love stirring the pot to see what happens. People are often toxic because they’re not interested in being stable and healthy in relationships.

They Don’t Respect Your Boundaries

Another sign of a toxic person is no boundaries. If you’ve been clear with someone time and again about your needs, and they just can’t help themselves but to disrespect you, they are toxic. Healthy relationships are based on trust and the ability to respect boundaries. Toxic people just can’t do that.

They Manipulate Others for What They Want

Do you feel taken advantage of? Manipulated? Toxic people love to manipulate those around them to get what they want. This means lying, bending the truth, exaggerating, or leaving out information so that you take a certain action or have a certain opinion of them. They’ll do whatever it takes, even if it means hurting people.

They Abuse Substances

Another toxic behavior is the abuse of substances, like drugs and alcohol. These behaviors become toxic when the person is continually harming other people, not to mention themselves.

Dealing With Toxic People

Now that you know the signs of a toxic person, both in the way you feel and how they act, you still may not know what to do about it. Here are a few strategies to try:

Confront Them

As soon as you notice toxic behaviors, confront the person. Call them out on any lies or inconsistencies. Tell them you don’t appreciate how they behave. This shows them that you’re paying attention — and you’re giving them a chance to explain themselves or apologize. 

Set Stricter Boundaries

If you must have a toxic person in your life, try to set stricter boundaries. For example, if someone is abusing substances and it causes them to harm you or others, let them know you won’t see them unless they’re sober. Make it clear you won’t tolerate their overly dramatic behavior or spreading rumors about people. Limit the time you spend with them until they can change.

Cut Them Out of Your Life

If the above strategies don’t work and cause even more pain, abuse, or dishonesty, it’s time to let the toxic person go. Sometimes there’s nothing to do but stand up for yourself and move on.

25 toxic personality traits to spot in yourself and others

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Toxic traits

What are personality traits?

25 examples of toxic traits

Signs you're in a toxic situation with someone

Myths about toxic traits

How to deal with toxic personality traits in a relationship and at work

Have you ever spent time with someone who seemed friendly but left you feeling insecure and emotionally exhausted after you got home? If so, you may have encountered someone who has toxic personality traits. 

A recent article in the Sloane Management Review suggests that toxic work cultures are the driving force behind the Great Resignation. And toxic cultures start with individuals behaving in toxic ways.

So there's good reason to pay attention to toxic behavior and learn to spot the traits before they send you or your teammates looking for a new job.

Toxic traits are not actually traits at all. 

Toxic traits

Toxic traits refer to habits, behaviors, and ongoing actions that harm others. Many toxic traits (like self-centeredness) can be subtle, and we want to see the best in people. Naturally, identifying toxic people in your life can be tricky. 

But toxic individuals are more common than you may think. According to the journal Violence and Victims, 48.4% of women and 48.8% of men have experienced psychological aggression from a partner. Plus, according to a recent Korn Ferry study, 35% of employees say that their boss is their single biggest source of stress at work.

Not all behaviors are quite so dramatic. Let's explore toxic traits you should watch out for in relationships — at work, home, or anyone else. 

What are personality traits?

A personality trait is a characteristic that influences how a person thinks, feels, and acts. It is a part of who they are. Personality traits make up a person. For example, a person’s level of introversion or extroversion is a trait. 

While they usually stay the same, traits can change over time due to factors like:

  • Experiences 
  • Belief systems
  • Major life stages

When discussing traits, we need to draw a line between a "trait" and "behavior." Traits are often innate. Behaviors, on the other hand, are actions we have control over. For example, a person’s level of “openness” is a trait. But "lying" is a behavior. 

When people talk about toxic traits, they aren’t usually talking about traits of a person — the term instead refers to a person’s behavior. Behaviors can be characterized as “healthy” or “unhealthy.” Unhealthy, or toxic, behaviors include:

  • Selfishness 
  • Hostility
  • Manipulation

Let’s take a look at many examples of toxic traits.

25 examples of toxic traits

If you saw someone throwing a chair through a window, you might think, "They have the toxic trait of anger. " But not all toxic personality traits manifest so obviously. 

Many people's toxic traits come out in subtle ways. You may not recognize them straight away when you encounter toxic behaviors in a relationship. Let's discuss 25 toxic traits and behaviors and their warning signs. 

  1. Negativity: a person with negativity may see the world as cold, cruel, and evil. They may frequently complain, ruin the fun, or dampen people's spirits with defeatist comments and actions. 
  2. Judgmentalness: a person who is judgmental may judge situations, people, or events without experience. For example, a friend may tell you that a concert will be boring or lame before you even arrive. 
  3. Dishonesty: a person who displays dishonesty may lie or mislead others. The act of lying is a choice. But dishonestly is the tendency to lie. Many people use dishonesty as a coping mechanism. 
  4. Rigidness: a person who is rigid may be stubborn, inflexible, or unable to adapt when things don't go as planned. For example, an employee may struggle to adapt when a new boss joins your team and changes the team dynamic.
  5. Rudeness: a person who displays rude behavior may speak or act without manners that most people would define as culturally appropriate. For example, someone may talk to a server without saying "please" or "thank you."
  6. A lack of empathy for others: a person who lacks empathy for others may struggle to understand other people's feelings and thoughts. For example, a leader that lacks empathy may not notice that one of their employees is struggling to complete work because they are tired. 
  7. Cynicism: a person who displays cynicism may think that interests and goals motivate people to the detriment of others. For example, a cynical person may assume that a polite server was only friendly for a good tip.
  8. Recklessness: a person who is reckless may not consider the danger their actions place upon themselves or others. For example, someone with recklessness may encourage you to undertake a dangerous activity.
  9. Pickiness: a person who is picky may struggle in situations that are new, outside their comfort zone, or don't match their standards. For example, a picky eater may refuse to eat a meal you cooked for them because they haven't tried a key ingredient before. 
  10. Argumentativeness: a person who is argumentative may get joy or pleasure from starting arguments. For example, a person may look for flaws in a family member's idea and attempt to rile them into a fight. Not all conflict is bad, but being argumentative for the sake of arguing can be detrimental.
  11. Quick to anger: a person who's quick to anger may become upset due to a trigger that would offend most people. For example, a colleague may get angry quickly and struggle to calm themselves down.
  12. Bossiness: a person who is bossy may take charge of a situation, demand control, or assert dominance over others. For example, a bossy colleague may micromanage your part of a project, despite not holding authority over you. A bossy colleague may also challenge your manager's leadership or undermine them. 
  13. Self-centeredness: a person who displays self-centeredness may focus on their wants over another person's needs. For example, a self-centered friend may refuse to comfort another friend because they'd rather do something else.
  14. Arrogance: a person who displays arrogance may believe they are more intelligent and more important than others. As such, they may treat others rudely or condescendingly. For example, an arrogant and selfish employee may refuse to listen to anyone else's ideas and are not willing to collaborate.
  15. Greediness: a person who is greedy may take more than they need at the detriment of others. For example, a friend with greediness may eat a slice of cake you saved for a friend who missed the cake cutting.  
  16. Stinginess: a person who is stingy may refuse to share their time, possessions, or money. They do this even when someone else deserves them. For example, a stingy family member may refuse to pay their part of a restaurant bill.
  17. Sneakiness: a person who is sneaky may conceal their actions and words from others for personal benefit. For example, a colleague may sabotage your work by neglecting to pass on a crucial instruction from your manager.
  18. Thoughtlessness: a person who is thoughtless may not consider how their actions or words may impact others. For example, a family member may tell your extended family a secret you shared with them in confidence.
  19. Disruptiveness: a person who is disruptive may speak over or interrupt others for personal gain. For example, an employee may play music out loud in the office. 
  20. Conflict avoidance: a person who struggles with conflict avoidance may have a hard time talking to others because they’re afraid of upsetting people. For example, a conflict-avoidant friend may allow another friend to insult them out of fear of an argument.
  21. Impulsiveness: a person who is impulsive may make rash decisions based on emotion. For example, an impulsive friend may spend too much money because they lack emotional regulation skills. 
  22. Laziness: a person who is lazy may struggle to finish tasks because they lack inspiration, motivation, and drive. For example, an employee may avoid completing their tasks because they don't want to. 
  23. Apathetic: a person with apathy may struggle to care about things, goals, or people. For example, an apathetic manager may struggle to work on their relationship with you because they aren't invested.
  24. A lack of self-awareness: a person who lacks self-awareness may struggle to reflect on their thoughts, actions, and words. For example, a toxic friend who isn't self-aware may not understand why they haven't reached a goal, despite sabotaging their own efforts.  
  25. Absolutism: a person with absolutism may view situations, people, or the world through a binary like "good or bad." For example, an absolutist friend may see another friend as bad because they upset them, despite the friend apologizing. 

When discussing common examples of toxic traits, you should remember two critical things. 

First, some behaviors can manifest positively in certain scenarios. But that doesn't make them positive. For example, a bossy person may produce high-quality work that impresses their colleagues and bosses. But bossiness can cause the person to feel stressed and ruin otherwise healthy relationships.

Second, our behaviors don't define us as people. This is true whether the behavior is negative or positive. For example, a person isn’t negative or rigid. Instead, a person may have the toxic trait of negativity or rigidity. We can change our toxic traits through introspection and reflection. We can also change them by working on our mental health.  

Signs you're in a toxic situation with someone 

Most people encounter someone with toxic traits at some point. Here are five red flags you're in a toxic situation you may need to address. 

They gaslight or lie to you 

Someone with toxic traits may cover up their behavior by lying to you or gaslighting you. Gaslighting is a type of manipulation where the gaslighter tries to make you question your version of events. 

You'll know someone is trying to gaslight you if they make you feel unsure of your feelings or insecure in your knowledge. However, there is a difference between someone disagreeing with you and gaslighting you. 

They don't apologize properly

Someone with toxic traits may avoid responsibility for their behavior with an apology that minimizes their actions. For example, they may say, "I'm sorry you feel that way" or "I'm sorry, but..."

If someone uses one of these apologies on you, you can call it out. People aren't always aware they aren't practicing empathy or compassion.

They don't understand how their behavior makes others feel 

Someone with toxic traits may not realize or care that their actions negatively impact others if they lack emotional intelligence.

If someone is unaware their actions hurt others, try addressing the problem with them. If they refuse to listen, you may need to set boundaries or stop spending time with them. 

Remember: you can use many types of listening. Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to each type. 

They think they are superior to others 

Someone with toxic traits may perceive themselves as more important than others. They may place their desires over other people's need for safety and well-being. 

This attitude manifests itself in many ways, such as through:

  • Two-faced behavior (treating people differently behind their backs than to their faces)
  • Prioritizing their wants over other people's needs 
  • Abusing their power 
  • Speaking badly about those who disagree with them or call them out 

Someone who believes they are superior may also not prioritize integrity (here are some examples of integrity).

They see themselves as a victim of their own behavior 

Someone with toxic traits may have a fixed mindset about their behavior. A fixed mindset says, "I can't change.” In contrast, a growth mindset says, "I can change my behavior with hard work and a strong sense of self." 

If someone only views themselves as a victim of their own life, they likely haven't accepted responsibility for their behavior. And they aren't ready to change it. 

Myths about toxic traits

Let's explore five myths about toxic personality traits. 

1. People can't change their toxic personality traits

It's easy to assume that negative behavior patterns are permanent. But this isn't true. Our personalities are fluid and change as we learn, grow, and experience new things. 

Most people can change their toxic traits if they: 

  • Work to identify them 
  • Understand their impact 
  • Consciously stop the toxic behaviors 

2. You can fix someone else's toxic traits 

Unfortunately, no one (not even therapists or life coaches) can fix someone else's toxic traits if the person with the toxic traits doesn't want to change.  

Fixing toxic traits takes: 

  • Self-awareness
  • Introspection
  • Willingness to grow as a person

While you can support someone through addressing their toxic traits, you can't control or fix their behavior. 

3. People with toxic traits know they have them

It's natural to assume someone's bad behavior is a conscious choice. But many people with toxic traits don't realize that their behavior impacts others. 

You may have toxic traits that you don’t know about. Some toxic traits, like absolutism, manifest subtly. You may not realize you see things as good or bad unless you experience something that forces you to reflect on your mindset. 

4. Someone with toxic traits is an inherently bad person 

While someone's toxic or negative traits may harm others, they don't make someone an inherently bad person with evil intentions. We are all learning and growing as we experience new things. You can be a good person with toxic traits. In fact, everyone displays negative behavior from time to time. 

Many people also develop toxic traits as a coping mechanism. For example, many dishonest people lie about their lives to protect themselves from other people's judgment. 

5. Toxic traits make some "assertive" or "tough"

Some negative behaviors serve people well in their personal or professional lives. But this doesn't make the toxic trait positive. 

A bossy, rude, or rigid manager may push their staff to produce excellent work. But these toxic traits still negatively impact others by creating an unhealthy and toxic work environment. Many people with toxic leadership traits excuse their behavior by calling themselves "assertive" or "tough.” But you can be assertive and tough without harming others. 

How to deal with toxic personality traits in a relationship and at work

As you can't always cut someone with a toxic trait out of your life, here are five tips to help you deal with them.  

1. Understand that it isn't about you 

When someone else's behavior makes you feel insecure or sad, you may feel tempted to blame yourself. 

Don't. Other people's toxic traits reflect their struggles and insecurities, not you. You can only control your own actions, self-esteem, and mental fitness. 

Watch out for signs you're JADE-ing their behavior. When you JADE, you "justify," "argue," defend," or "explain" someone else's behavior to minimize its impact. 

2. Try not to react 

If someone treats you poorly, reacting with anger, aggression, or annoyance may worsen the situation. Instead, start by taking deep breaths. Then, leave the situation if possible, and practice self-care. 

Depending on the behavior, you can also use grey-rocking. When you grey-rock someone, you act dull or emotionally unresponsive to make it harder for the person to engage with you. 

3. Set boundaries

Setting boundaries with someone can reduce the impact of their behavior on you. Each boundary should have a consequence. 

For example, "If my colleague makes a passive-aggressive comment about my appearance, I will excuse myself and speak with them later." 

4. Be honest about how the toxic trait impacts you 

As we mentioned, many people don't realize they have toxic traits. So, telling someone that their actions have hurt your emotional well-being may help them understand they need to change. 

You might like to try this template to start the conversation: 

"When you do or say (action), I feel (emotion). I understand that you don't intend to make me feel (emotion), but I would like it if you tried to stop doing (action)." 

Sometimes, an honest conversation can help someone turn a toxic relationship around.

5. Seek help from others

Someone's toxic traits can harm the social well-being of your friend group, family unit, or team. Naturally, you may need to seek support from others. This way, you can work together to approach the person about their behavior and develop a better relationship.  

If someone at work is behaving poorly, you may also need to report their toxic behavior to superiors or Human Resources. 

Toxic traits and healthy relationships

Once you understand what toxic traits look like, it'll be easier to spot them in your professional and personal relationships. 

When someone else has toxic traits, they can hurt you. But remember: someone else's behavior isn't a reflection of you, and you aren't responsible for fixing it. People with toxic personality traits are the only ones who can take responsibility for their actions and change. 

If you'd like to learn how to spot toxic behavior and communicate better with others in the workplace and at home, try BetterUp's coaching.

How to recognize toxic behavior and build personal boundaries

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May 29, 2021

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It happens that when you meet someone you experience inner discomfort, although outwardly nothing happens - just a conversation. This is a sure sign that you are dealing with a toxic person. How to build communication with him without emotional costs, we tell in the article. nine0003

Read the article:

  • Toxic behavior goals
  • 10 signs of toxic people
  • How to deal with toxic people if you can't avoid communication?

Targets of toxic behavior

There is no exact definition of toxicity in psychology. Toxic people are people who, after communicating with them, leave an unpleasant emotional aftertaste. Sometimes it is felt even at the physiological level: the head hurts, the mood deteriorates, you want to sleep. nine0003

A toxic person acts unconsciously, and patterns of such behavior are formed in childhood.

Example 1. To achieve what he wants, the child throws a tantrum every time. Parents always go to him on concessions. The child transfers such a pattern of behavior into adulthood, and in order to achieve his own goal, he manipulates the emotions of another person.

Example 2. All requests are denied by the parents without explanation.

Just no, that's all. In adulthood, such a person understands that it makes no sense to convince, therefore, instead of arguments, he chooses unconscious manipulation.

The main goal of any toxic behavior is to unconsciously influence the emotions of other people and get what you want.

Recognizing a toxic person is not always possible the first time. Sometimes you justify your unkind attitude towards him by your own bad mood. You begin to feel that you are being overly demanding. So, without noticing it, you succumb to the influence of a toxic person. nine0003

Finding the line between the behavior of a toxic and a normal person is not easy. They are skillful manipulators and will always pick up the key to your emotions: they will put pressure on pity in time, make an appropriate joke or express concern.

The only distinguishing feature of toxic people is constancy. If an ordinary person can react differently to the same situation depending on their mood, then the behavior of a toxic person is always the same.

There are a number of other signs by which you recognize a toxic person. nine0003

10 signs of toxic people

Let's look at the behavioral features that can be used to identify a toxic person.

1. Constant drama

Toxic people are always bad. They like to complain about their problems and remind you that you or others are luckier than they are.

2. Inability to hear the interlocutor

Toxic people are always absorbed in taking care of themselves and their condition. They are not at all interested in listening to the interlocutor, and every time they try to interrupt you in order to start a conversation about themselves. nine0003

3. Aggressiveness

They are easily turned on by any criticism, even playful or adequate.

4. Negativism

Toxic people will reject to the last benefit of any good idea.

5. The desire to embellish everything

In conversations, such people like to exaggerate and omit some facts in order to seem like heroes.

6. Eternal criticism

They criticize you, the world, other people, give unsolicited advice and always know how to do better. nine0003

7. Stealing time

A toxic person is ready to talk to you about his problems for a long time or come to visit without warning. He doesn't value your time.

8. Love for gossip

Always happy to talk behind the back of those people with whom you just had a nice conversation.

9. Self-righteousness

No matter what the other person thinks or feels, the toxic person always has the last word. He knows what is best for others and considers his opinion the only correct one. nine0003

10. Total control

Toxic people want to be aware of all the news, they care about everything. It doesn’t matter if you want to keep in touch with them or not, they will always find a reason to talk and openly begin to manipulate you.

Learn to build personal boundaries professionally

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How to deal with toxic people if you can't avoid communication?

If you look closely at your surroundings, you will surely find toxic people. Conversations with them cause a breakdown in strength and emotions, so you intuitively avoid meeting.

But what if your work colleague, close relative or friend is among toxic people? To maintain emotional balance when communicating with them, try to adhere to the following rules.

Stand up for your boundaries

Toxic people often target sensitive people who are embarrassed to say "no" so as not to offend. Throw away politeness and go on the offensive to protect personal time and space. nine0003

“Yes, I understand that you want to talk, but it's late and I want to sleep. Let's go tomorrow"

"I'm busy right now"

Manage the conversation

Toxic people love to talk about their problems and forget about time. If you are tired of the conversation, feel free to take the initiative in your own hands.

“I understand your problem, how are you going to solve it?”

Such a question puts your interlocutor in a stupor. After all, he wanted to complain, not solve the problem. nine0003

Don't open your soul

Toxic people skillfully ingratiate themselves. When they tell heartbreaking stories, you also want to share your experiences with them. Be careful, because any revelations will be used against you.

Set your own direction for the conversation

For example, don't let anyone gossip and turn the conversation in a constructive way.

“I’m not interested in discussing Sveta’s work, tell me what you plan to do on the weekend”

Control your emotional state

If your beloved friend constantly complains about life, do not react emotionally. No need to cry, feel sorry for her or worry, otherwise you will simply wallow in all her problems. Communicate constructively, but at the same time keep an emotional distance, react calmly and do not absorb negative information.

“Yes, I understand you. What are you planning to do?"

Do not try to solve a problem for another person

Toxic people often expect just that and try to shift the responsibility onto your shoulders. In such a situation, just listen to the person and give him the opportunity to solve the problem on his own.

The main thing when dealing with toxic people is to learn to build boundaries and not get involved in their problems. If you are not good at this, try to communicate less with this person. With a colleague, reduce communication to solving work issues, with close relatives - minimize meetings. When communication cannot be avoided, try to turn off emotional reactions and remain calm. nine0003

  • interpersonal relationships

8 signs of toxic people | LABA Business School (LABA)

In any team there are people with a destructive aura: they spoil the mood of others, discuss colleagues and disrupt work processes. And sometimes they even show aggression. These people are called toxic, and for good reason. They really "poison" the team.

We have collected 8 signs that you are working with a toxic colleague. How to recognize and neutralize? And what if the toxic person is yourself? nine0003

How toxic employees affect the company

In 2015, Dylan Minor, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Michael Houseman, chief analytics officer at Cornerstone OnDemand, studied the negative impact that toxic employees have on a company. They checked 11 companies, 2,882 work groups and 58,542 employees.

It turned out that in any team there are toxic people and "superstars". Superstars are the 1% of the most productive employees: they are so useful that without them, the company would have to hire additional specialists to achieve the same level of productivity. nine0003

Dylan Mayor and Michael Houseman calculated that the most productive team member brings the company $5,000 in profit per year, and one toxic one brings $12,500 loss.

In fact, the cost associated with hiring a toxic employee is twice as much as the benefit of hiring the most stellar employee.

Research has also shown that:

  • Employees who interact with toxic colleagues perform worse.
  • Almost half of them leave work early to avoid an unpleasant colleague. nine0020
  • 38% do not work at full capacity because they are afraid of criticism from toxic colleagues.
  • 25% of employees admitted that a bad working atmosphere affects their communication with customers: because of this, conflicts arise.
  • 12% quit because of toxic colleagues.

Robert Sutton, lecturer at Stanford University, wrote the book Don't Work with Assholes. In it, he explains that it's important to distinguish between people you just don't like and really toxic people. nine0003

We are all sometimes “temporary assholes”: when there is simply no mood / there were problems at work / the day did not work out. But from "certified assholes", people with a permanent negative influence, you need to stay away.

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How to recognize toxic people

Toxic behavior can manifest itself in different ways: someone criticizes everyone, someone demands too much, and someone constantly complains. Toxic people can be conditionally divided into 8 types. nine0003

Saboteur man

Constantly dissatisfied with something: tasks, clients, salary, management and colleagues. He criticizes all ideas without even analyzing anything, and the rules are not written for him. The saboteur will never be the "lawyer" of the company. Everything he says about his place of work is a complete negative.


Workaholics are used to working 24/7: they stay in the office in the evenings, perform tasks on weekends and even on vacation. And they will definitely shame other colleagues who leave the office at the end of the working day. nine0003


It seems to such people that they are underestimated, treated rudely, and in general, everyone around is unfair. Victims constantly complain about their health and come up with excuses for personal inefficiency. They are bad team players.


Gossip and intrigue are their habitat. They know all the news, and those who do not know will come up with themselves. Gossipers love to provoke conflicts, deceive and manipulate. Often they are the ones who climb the corporate ladder faster than others. nine0003


Constantly prying into other people's business with unnecessary advice - after all, he knows better what is right. He creates around himself the image of the most important and valuable employee in the company, although this is not so. Usually these are the people who have been with the company the longest, who have already stopped growing professionally, but still think that they are more important than the rest.


Usually such employees are too demanding of their colleagues, they constantly correct everyone and give feedback even when no one asked for it. They downplay the merits of others and often complain to management about teammates. And personal boundaries simply do not exist for them, so not only the professional achievements of colleagues will be criticized, but also their appearance, personal stories, close people. nine0003

Lazy man

Constantly dodges tasks, fails to turn in work before deadlines, does personal business in the office, or just sits out his pants. More intelligent lazy people have learned to delegate their tasks to others. This creates the appearance that they work, although in fact they are of no use.


Some express hostility in a passive-aggressive way: implicit insults, manipulation, resentment. And some are direct insults, raising their voices and making colleagues feel down. nine0003

How to deal with toxic people

If you are HR

Understand the real motivation of the person who wants to work for you. Ask open-ended questions and observe not only what the person says, but how they do it.

Non-verbal signs will tell a lot about whether he is honest. For example, a person who speaks the truth will sit in an open posture, his emotions will be natural. If the applicant is afraid to look into your eyes, sits restlessly, takes closed poses (crosses his arms and legs), he may be lying. nine0003

Study his previous experience: how often he changed jobs, what recommendations were given by previous employers. Scroll through social networks - this way you can understand how he interacts with other people.

Watch him during the trial period: how he communicates with colleagues, how quickly he adapts to the team, what position he takes and how he reacts to criticism. Toxic communication will be noticeable from the outside.

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If you are a leader

Understand that the negative influence of a toxic person cancels out the merit of good workers. And even if an employee seems productive, does a lot of work and always does it well, his negative impact on the atmosphere in the team prevents others from working to their fullest. You need to get rid of these employees.

If you are a colleague

Build personal boundaries: show how you can communicate and how not, what topics can be discussed and which are prohibited. Fight back if the Critic violates them, say that you are not ready to listen to whining if you work with the Victim, and tell the Gossip that you are not interested in talking about colleagues in the smoking room. nine0003

Contact support. A toxic person often provokes you into unpleasant emotions. If you have someone to share them with, their negative impact will decrease. Try to control yourself. If a toxic colleague fails to get you emotional, he will calm down after a few attempts and choose another object of influence for himself.

Keep the conversation going so you don't let a toxic colleague manipulate you.

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What if the toxic person is you?

If you notice that colleagues do not want to communicate with you, avoid meetings and are reluctant to agree to work in a team, you may be that very toxic colleague.

Analyze your behavior. Do you like to complain? Or, on the contrary, do you constantly brag and talk only about yourself? Do you not listen to others, but only criticize everything? You do not know how to console and show emotions?

Awareness is already half the work done. Ask colleagues and supervisors for honest feedback about you - they can be your toxicity test. Then it remains to be attentive to yourself and your behavior, to approach communication more consciously and think about others, and not just about yourself. nine0003

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