Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons.
As important as it is to learn how to deal with different kinds of people, truly toxic people will never be worth your time and energy—and they take a lot of each. Toxic people create unnecessary complexity, strife, and, worst of all, stress.
“People inspire you, or they drain you—pick them wisely.” – Hans F. Hansen
It’s often said that you’re the product of the five people you spend the most time with. If you allow even one of those five people to be toxic, you’ll soon find out how capable he or she is of holding you back.
You can’t hope to distance yourself from toxic people until you first know who they are. The trick is to separate those who are annoying or simply difficult from those who are truly toxic. What follows are five types of toxic drainers that you should stay away from at all costs so that you don’t become one yourself.
People Who Are One-Sided
Relationships are supposed to be mutually beneficial. They have a natural give and take. In the workplace, this applies to relationships with people who report to you (they should be getting things done for you and you should be teaching them) as well as with people you report to (you should be learning from them, but also contributing). These relationships grow toxic when one person begins to give a disproportionate amount, or one person only wants to take. It could be a manager who has to guide an employee through every excruciating detail or a colleague who finds herself doing all the work.
If possible, the best thing to do with this type is to stop giving. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. When it isn’t, you need to have a frank conversation with the other party in order to recalibrate the relationship.
People Who Are Passive Aggressive
This type takes many forms in the workplace, from the manager who gives you the cold shoulder to the colleague who cc’s e-mails to your boss. One of the most common forms of passive aggression is a drastic reduction of effort. Passive aggressive types have great difficulty receiving feedback, and this can lead them to leave work early or not work as hard. Passive aggression is deadly in the workplace, where opinions and feelings need to be placed on the table in order for progress to continue.
When you find someone behaving passive aggressively toward you, you need to take it upon yourself to communicate the problem. Passive aggressive types typically act the way they do because they’re trying to avoid the issue at hand. If you can’t bring yourself to open up a line of communication, you may find yourself joining in the mind games. Just remember, passive aggressive types tend to be sensitive and to avoid conflict, so when you do bring something up, make sure to do so as constructively and harmoniously as possible.
People Who Lack Forgiveness And Trust
It’s inevitable that you’re going to make mistakes at work. Some people get so fixated on other people’s mistakes that it seems as if they believe they don’t make mistakes themselves. You’ll find that these people hold grudges, lack emotional intelligence, are constantly afraid that other people are going to do them harm, and may even begin nudging you out of important projects. If you’re not careful, this can stifle upward career movement by removing important opportunities for growth.
The frustrating thing about this type of relationship is that it takes one mistake to lose hundreds of “trust points” but hundreds of perfect actions to get one trust point back. To win back their trust, it’s crucial that you pay extra-close attention to detail and that you’re not frazzled by the fact that they will constantly be looking for mistakes. You have to use every ounce of patience while you dig yourself out of the subjective hole you’re in. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
People Who Are Punitive
Punitive relationships are those where one person punishes the other for behavior that doesn’t align directly with their expectations. The major issue with punitive types is that their instinct is to punish, without adequate communication, feedback, and understanding. This belittling approach creates conflict and bad feelings.
To survive a punitive type, you must choose your battles wisely. Your voice won’t be heard if you dive right into every conflict. They’ll just label you as someone who is too sensitive.