How to Handle Toxic People

Updated on December 29, 2016

Toxic People Are All Around Us

Believe it or not, toxic people are all around you. You see them every day. You talk to them. You work with them. You're related to them. You may even live with them.

Toxic people are bad news. They can be annoying, obnoxious, irritating and depressing. They can dampen your spirits. They can ruin your reputation. They can get you fired from your job. They can destroy your relationships with spouses, lovers, relatives and friends. They can erode your self esteem.

They can create anxiety. They can drive you to bankruptcy. They can make your life miserable.

How do you recognize toxic people? Chances are if you've encountered a toxic person you immediately sensed their toxicity...even if you didn't call it that. Toxic people come in all ages, colors, shapes and sizes. Sometimes toxic people aren't immediately identifiable, but, over time, their true nature is inevitably revealed.

How to Recognize Toxic People

Following is a list of commonly encountered types of toxic people, with descriptions of their basic toxic characteristics.

The Psychopath: The Psychopath lacks empathy and sympathy, is completely devoid of a conscience, and derives pleasure from others' suffering.

The Sociopath: The Sociopath completely disregards the rights and feelings of others, and is incapable of experiencing remorse, shame or guilt.

The Pathological Liar: The Pathological Liar lacks the capacity to tell the truth-in fact, the pathological lacks the ability to even recognize the truth.

The Emotional Wreck: The Emotional Wreck is constantly on an emotional rollercoaster. This individual simply cannot keep it together.

The Putdown Artist: The Putdown Artist is constantly making others the butt of jokes in an attempt to deflect attention away from their own shortcomings.

The Hatemonger/Blamemonger: The Hatemonger/Blamemonger hates everyone who is nicer, smarter, richer, better connected or more successful than they are. The Hatemonger/Blamemonger blames every individual and every group of individuals that is different from them for all of their particular problems, as well as for everything the Hatemonger/Blamemonger believes is wrong with the world in general.

The Misogynist/Misandrist/Misanthrope: The Misogynist hates women. The Misandrist hates women. The Misanthrope hates ALL humans without regard to gender. The Misogynist/Misandrist/Misanthrope blames women, men or people in general for all of their problems and failures.

The World Class Jerk: The World Class Jerk is a classless, uncouth, foul-mouthed jackass who is universally offensive.

The Moocher: The Moocher constantly asks to borrow everything money to breath mints. The Moocher develops amnesia when it's time to pay back a loan, and is never able to reciprocate a favor.

The Downer: The Downer is always in a bad mood. In fact, The Downer takes great pains to maintain their bad mood and to broadcast it to anyone who will listen.

The Illwill Ambassador: The Illwill Ambassador seeks out bad news and rumors and works overtime to make sure no one misses out on their malevolent mudslinging.

The Instigator: The Instigator lives to create discord, hostility and strife. The Instigator actually nurtures confrontation.

The Bully: The Bully thrives on dominating and humiliating those they perceive as weaker than them.

The Master Manipulator: The Master Manipulator uses cunning, trickery and subterfuge to control victims.

The Blackmailer: The Blackmailer works hard to gain your trust so they can learn your secrets and weaknesses and exploit them when you cross them.

The Blabbermouth: The Blabbermouth tells everything they know--especially your personal business.

The Generally Malcontent: The Generally Malcontent finds dissatisfaction with everything and makes a point of never being happy...ever.

The Love Predator: The Love Predator pretends to be your friend, finds out all your business and uses it to try to get your spouse or lover into bed. The Love Predator doesn't actually want your spouse or lover; they want you to know they slept with (or could have slept with) your spouse or lover.

The Self-Destructor: The Self-Destructor eats too much, drinks too much, smokes too much and parties too much. The Self-Destructor is the embodiment of the word reckless.

How to Deal With Toxic People

To the extent that you can, avoid toxic people at all costs. If this is not possible, minimize your contact with them as much as possible.

When you do have to interact with toxic people, keep the conversation strictly business. Be polite and cordial, not overly friendly. Do not tell toxic people your personal business. Do not allow toxic people to tell you their personal business. When toxic people attempt to spread gossip, change the subject. If they persist, firmly tell them that you are not interested. If this does not work, simply walk away.

Never, ever express an opinion, reveal a weakness or discuss other people with toxic people. When toxic people ask you personal questions, politely decline to answer. Never introduce your spouse or lover to toxic people.

If you show no interest in their shenanigans and refuse to feed into their pathology, toxic people will soon lose interest in you and move on to more receptive potential victims.

How to Avoid Becoming A Toxic Person

Avoid engaging in the behaviors toxic people exhibit. If you find yourself unconsciously engaging in such behaviors and you are unable to stop doing so on your own, invest in some relevant self-help books and/or seek the assistance of a friend. If all else fails, seek professional help from a psychologist or social worker.

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    • profile image

      Lauren 

      3 months ago

      Dominic was toxic he never made me feel like a priority sometimes I even feel like throwing up when he or his girlfriend is around me because I remember the sweet guy he was and I look at him now and he's kinda a jerk now he puts his girlfriend first all the time and never makes time for me he is only nice when I'm nice to him or complimenting him or giving him gifts other then that no he's not very nice to me at all I asked him for time with him but he never gave me any

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      6 years ago

      But these are all very successful traits!

    • profile image

      Steven 

      6 years ago

      Thank you so much for this article. This explained a lot for me and helps me sort things out with toxic people in my close relationships, in-law, and also at work. This is great...

    • profile image

      alex claxton 

      6 years ago

      this page describes my two roommates...sometimes i don't know what to do they give me so much anxiety that i have to leave my own home and go out of town so i wont go crazy

    • profile image

      Deadinside 

      6 years ago

      I am on a verge of getting in contact with a bunch of toxic people, even after paying lakhs of rupees I will be d9gisgraced, bullied, looked down upon, humiliated, choked, near to death experience. I shall never forget. After four I going brutally hurt.

    • profile image

      iyankun 

      6 years ago

      really helpful, too many toxic people nowadays, they gossip about me and even bully me quite few of them. My plan now is to live a new life elsewhere... email me if you need to share your feelings.. iyankun@cyberdude.com

    • Dorsi profile image

      Dorsi Diaz 

      6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

      Thanks for an interesting read. I deal with many toxic people, unfortunately.

    • profile image

      DG 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for this article! I think I am a blabbermouth, but I am only just realizing it! I noticed people started avoiding me and I certainly didn't talk about people with the intention of hurting their feelings. I just wanted to have something to say when I saw people. I had no idea that people saw me as annoying as they did but I never viewed it as being a blabbermouth because I would never say something about someone that I wouldn't say to their face (albeit with a different tone) and if they asked me specifically not to repeat something I wouldn't repeat it. I doesn't change the fact that I am a blabbermouth and I didn't really have a lot going on. School, tv, exercise, videogames. I didn't date so it felt like when I got into a conversation I had to have something interesting to say and their was nothing interesting going on in my life so I had to live vicariously through other people.

      It wasn't until a hidden Misogynist and Jerk brought it up that I never seemed to shut up and he didn't care what my friends were doing did I realize that maybe I was just annoying people. I am trying to learn how to socialize without going on and on, giving less details, listening more, and trying to focus on my own life instead of my friends, but it's hard.

      Anyway, I loved the article because you gave me a way to deal with the jerky misogynist.

    • Camille Harris profile image

      Camille Harris 

      7 years ago from SF Bay Area

      This is a veryyy good, relatable Hub (evidenced by the number of comments!). I personally know the Downer and [The] Generally Malcontent well. Voting up!

    • profile image

      Good Boy 

      7 years ago

      I think you got me more than once on your list...

    • profile image

      IM 

      8 years ago

      this article really made me realize the power of being around people that are good. i have moved back home for 5 months while i am working on a website for my company. my mother and i had always had flair ups but we seem to settle them later.... this is the first time i have ever been sober around her and thought "everything would be different" because i am living a cleaner spiritual life" when i got off the plane i didn't recognize her, she was a shell with no soul - it was hard for me to swallow but i did everything i could to try and help her be happy, i got her eating right, walking and she seemed to be a littler better ....but then i knew there was still something wrong but i just couldn't put a finger on it, until i started speaking with women about her and they suggested i go to co-depency meetings...so i did, and bingo i figured it out she was suffering from co dependency.....so i thought by telling her she would listen and get help for it...the exact opposite happened - she started becoming more crazy and is making my life a miserable hell, i hate to say this about my own mother but i have to leave her for my safety - i am taking anxiety medication just to calm down, she broke into my room the other night while i was sleeping to tell me i left a piece of tupperware out, she is so miserable that she has completely taken me out of my head and i am a nervous reck - i came here to help her and try and be a good son, now if i don't leave very soon, which i am (3 weeks) i am likely to do permanent damage to her and i - if u have to take drugs in order to be around someone then my advice is u should not be around them

    • profile image

      Mary 

      8 years ago

      Great article, I knew a "The Blabbermouth" who repeated everything I'd say to her, to everyone she knew. One day a piece of personal information was used against me at a part she was having (I made the mistake of attending!) and was humiliated for hours on end. Never again - now I am extremely careful about what I say to other people (ie, I never talk about myself to other people at all)

    • profile image

      Lynn 

      8 years ago

      I'm glad to know about these toxic types of people now.My neighbor is a pathological lier and psychopath.

      Taking one small little truth like talking to someone casual and saying I'm following that person.

      Also paranoia accusations that I'm out to get her and the manager believes her over me.

      That's how good of a lier she is she convinces all authority to look in a different direction.

      She's a toxic neighbor to a lot of people I've been told from other victims.

      I forgive her and pray for her.

      The truth is cross my heart I'm not the type of person who would do those horrible things she desribes to the manager.

      I want peace not war, even when I have no close connection like this neighbor.

      I have my parents handling this.

      I don't know where I'd be without them, I feel fortunate for my friends to save me.

      I tried speaking up to this yelling in my face neighbor but all she cared about was what she dreamed up and yelling louder over me.

      This article even though all these lies are being taken care of by my parents.

      I couldn't help feeling the toxic effects even when I'm working on being stronger.

      I even got sick after all this because it lowered my immunity the stress.

      I'm moving away from this mad woman and justice will be done even when it takes awhile.

      I will move away from here it will take awhile.

      So meanwhile I have to lay low like I was before neighbor blew up at me and have a plan to decline going to a meeting with that mad woman and puppet manager unless I have a representive mainly my parents or helpers.

      There's a plan laid out for my safety I follow from my parents for now.

      Aimee hit it dead on about how it's important to remember so it won't happen again.

      It's too bad nieghbors aren't looked over for their toxic levels same as a hazardous chemical is.

    • profile image

      Aimee 

      9 years ago

      Forgiveness is good, but forgetting is not. Forgetting enables me to make the same mistake again with different people.

    • profile image

      megan 

      9 years ago

      there are many people who i reachedto for help

      these people turned out to be a great soutrce of betrayl

      these environments caused me to loose a job, friendships and a healed realtionship with realtives

      entering into relationships with people who are very needy and have a great

      desire to be right have led me to learn about forgiveness again and again

    • profile image

      D. L. Blanco 

      9 years ago

      I am so happy that I came across this webpage! A little over a year ago, I went through a horrible time with someone I considered my best friend. She had some jealousy issues which I was always aware of but was never really affected by. That was until I got back in touch with some friends I had lost contact with over the years. Well that's when the straw broke the camel's back. I found out that she had been lying to my friends by telling them that I wanted nothing to do with them so that she could keep my friendship to herself. She was confronted by her lies and started acting really crazy and this is when things started to spin out of control.

      A lot happened. Too much to go into detail here but in the end we wound up in court and she finally was out of my life. This whole experience inspired me to write the book, Single Latina Female: Tale of a Toxic Friend and have it published because it was my way of telling the story for others to know that they are not alone. I learned the hard way not to avoid the obvious warning signs of a toxic friend. Now I feel like novice in the friendship department and would love to help anyone out with advice I could give.

    • profile image

      Marie Martinez 

      9 years ago

      I have been teaching 30+ years in early childhood. I love what I do and am not

      the type of person to brag. But I am feeling uneasy at work because the younger

      generations avoid me. They let me know indirectly they want to do things without me. And I have let it go their way. I tried talking about it to them.

      particularly one "bad apple" that is running the show and wants everybody on her side. She is the one really jealous of me. And nobody wants to offend her by

      giving in to me in any kind way. So, there it is. I

    • profile image

      Diane 

      10 years ago

      Excellent article - wow when you get to listing them all out ... yikes!

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