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Characteristics of Toxic People and What You Can Do

Brittney is a licensed professional counselor and a certified rehabilitation counselor. She has a Master's in counseling.


Toxic individuals appear in our everyday lives. They can be your boss, co-worker, family member or they could hold positions within all levels of the government. There is no way to avoid these types of people but in order to manage the affect they have on your life, knowing the traits of a toxic person and how to manage them in your life is crucial.

These types of people often display subtle behaviors that seem "normal" or normal responses to different experiences. They have the potential to cause significant psychological harm to others. It is important to be aware of these types of people and identify them quickly to minimize any harm to your life.

It is also useful to know that there are levels of severity in terms of toxicity. In order to successfully deal with toxic people, you need to know the severity of toxicity which informs your plan to deal with them.


False Praise For Your Successes

Toxic people will initially praise you for your accomplishments no matter how big or small you feel they are. They make your accomplishments as a reflection of themselves rather than letting it be solely about you. At the same time they praise you and rant about you to others, they are resentful that you did something of value.

The false praise serves toxic people because when talking about it with others, your successes reflect good on him. Toxic individuals have a motive and it is to be perceived and admired and will use your accomplishments to satisfy their motivation, for the time being.

Passive Aggression

Toxic people rely on passive aggression. One reason for this is because they are unable to communicate their dissatisfaction and engage in passive aggressive behaviors to let you know they aren't pleased.

Passive aggression is exhibited in different ways. It can be displayed in nonverbal behavior such as crossing their arms or rolling their eyes. They are basically doing everything they can to let you know they have a problem without directly stating there is a problem.

It might be displayed as sarcasm. If someone is sarcastic, that does not automatically make them toxic. However, when toxic people use sarcasm, it is often through a not-so-funny joke.

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Many toxic individuals are unable to compromise. Additionally, they believe they are superior to others, so how would anyone know more than them? Their selfishness and self-centeredness can be subtle. Selfishness involves minimal, if any, regard for others and being overly concerned about themselves.

The level of severity for toxicity ranges. There are some who might be able to relate but more on a superficial level whereas others simply cannot empathize with another person. Some toxic people exhibiting selfish behaviors will say something along the lines of not being selfish and being genuine. Here's the thing to remember: talk is cheap without action and they are well aware of that.


How to Handle Toxic People

Toxic people lack healthy boundaries. Therefore, you are responsible for creating and maintaining boundaries with them. Some people struggle to enforce their boundaries because of guilt or fear. Just remember that it takes time and practice but as long as you stick to the boundaries you set, you will overcome the challenges of fear and guilt.

Toxic people are manipulative. You aren't always interested in you despite how they come across. When you tell toxic people anything about you, it is likely they will use it against you in the future.

Here are a few ways to handle toxic people in your life.

Setting boundaries

It is difficult to set boundaries, but if you make it a habit to set boundaries in all of your relationships, it will be less uncomfortable. You might feel less guilt because you are not "singling" anyone out.

You cannot control others

You are not responsible for how others behave. You do not have control over the behaviors of others. You control how you respond to situations. You are in control of reacting in situations. Pick and choose what battles you are willing to have.

Final Comments

In conclusion, it is crucial to spread the message about these subtle signs of toxic people that can and will affect your life negatively. Make sure you educate others and if you know other people in relationships with a toxic person, be sure they are aware of the signs and behaviors. You could save a life. I know someone saved mine by spreading the message and I hope you'll be a part of that as well.

Narcissistic People

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Brittney Lindstrom

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