Don’t you sometimes wish that you could just avoid the drama and distractions caused by toxic people? It would save us all so much time and stress if we just had some kind of a cheat sheet that we could use to identify the toxic people who will dull our shine, drain our energy and distract us from living our dreams and reaching our goals.
The truth is that people are always giving us clues as to who they are. We are often just too busy or self-absorbed to really notice. You don’t need a crystal ball or a cheat sheet. You just need to learn to identify these five behavioral traits and trust your intuition. These are the top 5 traits I have always found toxic people to have in common:
Criticize and Complain
The single biggest red flag for me, is when I meet someone and the first thing they do is to criticize someone or something or to lay out their long list of complaints about any number of random things for anyone unfortunate enough to be in their immediate vicinity. Sure, we can’t all be happy with everything all the time, but these people always find something to complain about and they seem to never be happy with anything, no matter what. It is emotionally exhausting to spend time with them because they seem entirely unwilling or unable to see anything good and positive on the world around them or in their lives in general.
Gossip has got to be one of the single most destructive forces in human relationships and if ever you need a reminder of the darkness that lurks within each of us, just watch the delight that people seem to derive from sharing gossip or tales of the misfortunes of others. If someone is not using their words to empower or motivate the people around them and they are not spreading positivity and light every chance they get, it’s my experience that they’re not someone to trust with any information and they are not someone to spend precious time with – even more so if you have just met them and they leap straight into gossip about someone else.
Always the Victim
One of the top traits of emotional maturity, is the ability to recognize and acknowledge how our own thoughts or beliefs or actions and behaviors, contributed to or led to a specific outcome. Taking responsibility for our own actions and not always shifting the blame or painting ourselves as a victim of circumstance when we made choices that led us down a specific path, is a sign of significant personal growth and enlightenment. Toxic people, unfortunately, do not take responsibility for their actions and they are always playing the victim. Sometimes they actively create drama and situations to gain sympathy from others, instead of identifying their developmental areas and actively working on improving their situation and their life in general.
Toxic people are usually extremely selfish and have no qualms whatsoever about manipulating others into doing things that will benefit them. They are scheming and deviously cunning, always thinking about themselves only and finding ways to gain benefits for themselves – often at the cost of others. In an open, honest, emotionally mature relationship (whether professional or personal) between two people, it’s never necessary to be calculating or conniving or for one person to try and trick another person into doing something that will benefit them.
Inconsistent Actions and Behaviors
This trait may take a little longer to spot and you may only notice it after a while, but toxic people tend to behave inconsistently and leave others wondering what just happened. One day they will be super chill when the barista gets their coffee order wrong, and the next, they will lose their temper and become verbally abusive. These extremes in behavior are scary to witness and the inconsistency leads to confusion and fear amongst everyone around the toxic person. Toxic people’s behavior is often influenced by their mood and they seem to have an inability to deal with the issue that caused them upset in the first place. Instead, they take their frustrations out on everyone around them.
Recognizing any single one of these traits in a person should already be reason enough for some feelings of trepidation. Seeing more than one of these traits in the same person however, is a very good indication that they are a toxic personality who will do little else than cause drama in your life and constantly surround you with negativity.
Pay attention not only to the things that people say, but more so to what they do and how they behave. People are always telling us exactly who they are. All we need to do to avoid toxic people in our lives, is listen more closely and watch behavior.