Do you know someone who:
If so, then, my friend, you have come across a TOXIC person. While some of these people are oblivious to the negativity and toxicity they emit, others seem to derive satisfaction from wreaking havoc on people and testing their limits. In today’s diverse society, it is likely that you have and will come across different kinds of people so knowing how to deal with them is crucial.
Identifying and dealing with toxic people is a skill which can be mastered over time. Not only do toxic people create complexity, but also cause a lot of unnecessary stress in your life. In fact, studies show that surrounding yourself with toxic people can cause an enormous stress response in your brain. And this kind of stress is bad news!
Author and the founder at Science of People, Vanessa Van Edwards, characterised the different types of toxic people that exist. So, you’ll want to watch out for these 6 types of toxic people according to her!
Would you describe anyone in your friend group as a ‘control freak’? These are the people who want to always be in control. They manipulate and pressure you to change in order to get what they want. If they had their way, they would dictate and micromanage your life to fit you into their unrealistic expectations.
They take the slightest notion of disagreement as a personal attack and tend to panic in situations where the other person does not agree with them.
In fact, they go to great lengths to convince you that they’re right, and you should believe them. They further force their agenda on people, until other people are in complete alignment with them. While their past experiences shouldn’t justify their behaviour, knowing where they’re coming from certainly helps. Control freaks act the way they do as a means of compensating for the paranoia and insecurities they have, which stems from deeper psychological issues. If you know someone who has these traits, watch out! This person might be a toxic person!
If you’re familiar with J. K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’, you’d surely know what ‘Dementors’ are. Rowling describes Dementors as evil beings that suck people’s souls out of their bodies, leaving them merely in the skin of humans. In the presence of a Dementor the room goes dark, people get cold, and they begin to recall their most horrific memories. Rowling said she created the concept for Dementors based on extremely negative people — the kind of people with the ability to walk into a room and suck the life out of it immediately.
These are the kinds of people who always have something sad, negative, or pessimistic to say. They find the bits of negativity in seemingly benign situations. It’s incredibly difficult for them to see the positive side of things in situations. Instead, they focus on the negative aspects and inject their negativity in the form of fear and concern upon other people. Have you ever felt emotionally drained, fatigued, and listless after a conversation or an interaction with someone? If so, you might want to distance yourself and not let their bad vibes overwhelm you.
We all have that one friend who has never-ending stories, stories about themselves mostly.
And there you are, trying to get a word in, failing at it immensely. These are the types of toxic people who LOVE to talk about themselves. They can talk about anything; from the way they brush their teeth to that one time they saw a celebrity — as long as it’s about themselves.
In fact, they tend not to ask many questions to the other person in the conversation. And by some miracle, even if they do ask a question, they tend to not wait for the other person to respond. The world revolves around them and they are so self-centred that they often neglect other people’s needs and feelings.
You know who exactly I’m talking about! The people who make your eyes roll with their bollywood-serial-like dramatic episodes. With these people, there’s always something wrong and nothing’s ever right. They’re often dissatisfied — once a problem is solved another one pops up. They long for your support and sympathy but not your advice.
As a remedy for their deep insecurities, they tend to be needy and seek attention to the point where they become self-destructive and obsessive. Not only do they play the victim, they also flourish in difficult situations as it makes them feel important. Typically, these people are very shallow and superficial and tend to judge those around them based on external characteristics and appearance. If you know any ‘Drama Magnets’, be careful not to drown in one of their episodes.
“Oh, you study at Taylor’s? You must be rich!”
“I like your glasses! It reminds me of my grandma.”
“Hasan has an A in English. You got a B?”
… are all words of a critic. Whether it’s to make you feel bad about your choices or nitpicking at your flaws, they never miss a chance to pass judgement and criticise you for your actions. Nothing and no one is ever good enough for them, everyone is always lacking.
They're intolerant towards other people's differences and have a way of making people feel horrible instead of appreciating you for being different. They have strong prejudice towards others which makes them stereotypical.
These people are judgmental and this can be a dangerous mix as they bottle up jealousy so much that their bubble of jealousy bursts out as judgements. They use judgements as a defense mechanism and to compensate for their deep insecurities. They further struggle with ambiguity and uncertainty and are very critical of themselves. They often enviously gossip about other people that talking about people behind their back becomes their sweet spot.
In his book, ‘How Full Is Your Bucket?’, Tom Rath describes them as people with ‘empty buckets’ because they always make others feel bad about themselves. They believe that since they can’t have a full bucket, they might as well leak others’ to make themselves feel good. You’ll do well to stay away from these toxic critics!
Note: Being a critic is fine as long as they’re constructive criticisms and it’s important for us to differentiate them from bad critics as some criticisms can be good to improve ourselves.
What do tanks do? They demolish anything that falls into their mouth! Similarly, human tanks are those people who destroy anyone who goes against them or doesn’t agree with them. These people believe they're always right and admitting that they are wrong is unheard of. They take every conversation and discussion as a personal challenge that must be won over.
They're incredibly selfish and always put themselves first. In conversations, they only listen to respond and not to understand. While working in teams and groups, they aren’t likely to take other people’s feelings, ideas, and opinions into account. This is because they think that they’re the smartest person in the room and therefore, tend to be extremely arrogant. So if you ever come across a ‘Tank’ in your group assignments, be sure to not let them step all over you!
“People inspire you, or they drain you — pick them wisely.” – Hans F. Hansen
It’s said that you’re the product of the five people with whom you spend most of your time. If you feel that someone may be holding you back from being yourself, chances are this person could be toxic. So ask yourself this, "Am I toxic or do I know anyone who is toxic?"
Ali Najah is a final year student at Taylor's University, currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in International Business and Marketing (Honours). He is a Board member of the Media & Design department at Taylor's Muslim Student Association (MSA). He is also a writer and photographer at Taylor's Etc Magazine.
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