Did you ever spend some time with an individual who seemed nice but who afterwards left you feeling uneasy and emotionally spent? In that case, you may have come across someone who possesses toxic personality traits.
The term “toxic traits” refers to patterns of conduct, behaviours, and persistent negative actions. Because we prefer to see the best of humanity, many harmful traits (like narcissism) often appear subtle. Naturally, it might be difficult to recognise toxic individuals in your life.
People who are subjected to toxic behaviours suffer emotionally and psychologically.
Meanwhile, persons with toxic personalities find it challenging to start and maintain good
relationships for obvious reasons.
The Dangers of Being a Toxic Person or Recipient of Toxic
There are toxic people everywhere. They exist in intimate relationships. A survey found that 48.8% of males and 48.4% of women had encountered psychological aggression (toxic
behaviour) from a spouse. People exhibit toxic behaviours online, at the workplace, at home, in relationships, and in the community.
They have a reputation for causing drama. They frequently traumatise you and, in certain
situations, bring out your worst traits. They might not always be conscious of the impact their actions have on you. Lack of emotional intelligence or self-awareness, however, is not an excuse.
Ironically, the toxic person’s actions have a negative impact on both them and those who are subjected to them.
If you’re the antagonist, the dangers are as follows:
- Problems developing wholesome relationships with others
- Alienating your loved ones
- Friendships and family ties that have fallen apart
- A decline in romantic relationships
If you are in the proximity of someone with a toxic personality, you could
experience the following effects:
- Avoiding them out of fear of encounters with them
- Psychological or emotional distress
- Anxiety and worry
- Low self-esteem
- Confusion, rage, frustration, guilt, shame, or inferiority
- Loneliness or despair brought on by self-isolation
25 Toxic Personality Traits
We must distinguish between “behaviour” and “traits”. A trait is frequently innate. On the other hand, behaviours are things we can control.
When individuals discuss toxic features, they typically refer to a person’s behaviour rather than personal characteristics. There are two categories of behaviour: “healthy” and “unhealthy.” Toxic or unhealthy features include:
Let’s examine numerous instances of toxic characteristics.
People who want to keep their positions of authority, domination, and control at home or work frequently engage in abusive activities. Whether it is emotional, psychological, sexual, or physical abuse, it is always wrong to stay in a relationship with the abuser. You are entitled to a life free from abuse under the law. For some survivors, leaving an abusive relationship safely might be difficult. Therefore, you must look for expert advice.
Being aggressive involves engaging in hostile and threatening interactions with others. It can manifest as both physical assault and psychological aggression. In the article Three Personality Traits of Aggressive People, the words confrontational, hot-headed, and thin-skinned are used to describe aggressors.
To obtain respect or authority, they exert dominance and intimidation over others. If your
friends, family, or supervisor possess this toxic trait, they will probably yell at you or threaten you to get what they want. Because it makes you feel scared or nervous, the behaviour is emotionally and mentally damaging. It might be hazardous to deal with a passive-aggressive persona.
Do you often find yourself in a heated discussion with a particular individual to the point where you avoid starting conversations with them? You might be dealing with someone looking for an argument. They like raising objections and refuting your arguments as if to debunk your ideas or diminish your intelligence.
People with argumentative tendencies are masters at making a conflict out of the smallest issue. They enjoy arguing and having fights, and they’ll readily accuse you of starting one. Due to the constant need to defend and justify yourself, you eventually feel emotionally spent.
Arrogant persons are impossible to communicate with. They will claim that you are clueless and that they are experts in everything. Someone like them does not worth your attention because they essentially disrespect you by claiming to be smarter or more aware than you. They won’t listen if you try to justify yourself. They even welcome your comeback and might take advantage of it to start a fight.
Although competition can be beneficial for achievement, it can be toxic when exploited as a
means of gaining the upper hand, particularly in personal relationships. Generally speaking, envy and jealousy cause your lover, friends, and even coworkers to feel the urge to outdo you. For instance, narcissists are intensely competitive with their partners.
These behaviours may be displayed by competitive family members or friends who perceive a threat to your accomplishment. They won’t allow you to take pleasure in the limelight for your accomplishments. They’ll speak up right away and list all of their achievements that are comparable to or bigger than yours. They contend with you for their own selfish interests, thereby emotionally draining you.
People who are toxic want to control others and keep that control. It might be about anything, including everything you do, say, believe, and feel, as well as which companions you ought to have. This is what control freaks do to feel superior. They’ll be adamant about getting things their way.
When you push back, they frequently criticise, threaten, or intimidate you. To make sure you agree with their never-ending demands, they’ll even go so far as to disregard your boundaries.
Being defensive is an impulsive behaviour that results from narcissism or low self-esteem.
People who are defensive have a hard time receiving genuine criticism and constructive
comments that are meant to help, not hurt.
If you have this trait, you’re prone to see these things as criticisms of your character or skills. In other situations, you struggle to hold yourself accountable and go into defence mode to protect yourself.
Everybody occasionally lies or commits another act of dishonesty, like hiding information. It’s in people’s nature to want to safeguard vital things, like their privacy, and this happens
A persistently dishonest person, however, goes beyond simple lying and deceit. They always tell lies. It is known as pathological lying in psychology. It frequently coexists with dishonesty to disguise other falsehoods, such as cheating.
It’s truly impossible to discern if someone is talking the truth or not. You may grow deeply
suspicious of or become cynical while dealing with a partner or friend who possesses this trait. If you begin to experience paranoia, don’t be shocked.
This characteristic is present in people with dismissive-avoidant attachment styles or those who are emotionally unavailable. Dismissive people don’t value connection and closeness, which might make you feel continuously unhappy in your relationship.
Being far from you is intended to keep one from feeling exposed around you. They also avoid conflict and struggle to make amicable arrangements when they disagree. The silent treatment and other passive-aggressive tactics are more likely from them.
Family discord destroyed relationships, and divorce is frequently brought on by persistent
rudeness and contempt. If you treat your supervisor or coworkers disrespectfully, you’ll probably get fired.
Disrespectful behaviours include being late, not listening, not caring about others’ feelings,
disobeying the law, and crossing personal boundaries. Your personality conveys that you don’t care about other person’s emotions, welfare, or workplace ethics. As a result, others won’t want to interact with you. When someone treats you with extreme disrespect and you don’t set limits, they’ll think you don’t have any respect for yourself and keep acting disrespectfully toward you.
Narcissists and other manipulators regularly employ the technique of gaslighting. The meaning of the phrase may be recognisable to you. In essence, someone who gaslights you does and says things so that you doubt your memories, actuality, and sanity.
For instance, they might question what they have said or done in the face of unambiguous proof. This strategy is viewed as a type of subtle psychological abuse.
Hide insults in humour
Have you ever been insulted by someone who then grinned and said, “Calm down, I’m just
kidding”? The insulting comments might also be couched in sarcasm or as unintended praise. For instance, a friend may remark, “You look pretty with your hair down,” while your supervisor may observe, “Hmmm, you performed surprisingly well.”
These subliminal comments qualify as “toxic” and can be psychologically and emotionally
harmful, according to Psychology Today. It makes no difference if they say it’s a joke.
Engaging with a toxic individual increases the likelihood that your boundaries may be crossed. When someone disregards your limits, it doesn’t matter if you’ve known them all your life or just met them. In order to foster respectful and meaningful relationships, it is acceptable to set personal boundaries. But those who break the “lines” set up to govern their behaviour toward you and your loved ones are known as boundary crashers.
Setting and implementing guidelines to safeguard your well-being against boundary crossers is something you should do at any time.
Every day is bad news if you have a jealous or envious friend or relative. Here is why. Those that have your best interests in mind typically rejoice when favourable circumstances arise for you. Whenever you win a reward, get married, get a promotion, or obtain a new job, for instance. Without a doubt, those who are envious of you may appear glad for you, but their happiness is untrue. Their speech and body language are false, and you can tell.
However, this quality is seen as toxic because these people have the propensity to criticise,
demoralise, or give you terrible advice that could put you in danger. Some people will hurt you. Therefore, Identify your real pals.
Have you ever felt criticised by a friend or family member? They always find something wrong with what you say or do. They’ll harshly condemn you and pass moral judgement on your choices, family, friends, work, and personality. They assume and make assumptions rather than asking questions.
There are other traits of judgmental people as well. They believe that anything they say or hold to is infallible. They don’t care about your opinions; you can explain all you want. They will even attempt to defend their criticisms.
Lack of Empathy
Understanding people’s perspectives and feeling for them in difficult situations requires empathy. An empathic supervisor will recognise your weariness and advise you to take a rest. A spouse or grown kid may demonstrate compassion by making you a meal or bringing you medicine.
If you find yourself in the hands of a sociopath, psychopath, or someone with narcissistic
personality disorder, you may forget about being cared for. That explains why they can take
advantage of you so easily and harm you without giving a hoot about how it makes you feel.
Lack of Self-awareness
A psychological quality called self-awareness enables us to evaluate our ideas, feelings, and
behaviour (introspect). We can also consider how our actions impact other people and take
action to manage and improve.
Self-awareness serves as guidance for us to treat people with the respect and kindness we would like to receive in return. Because they can’t see and own up to their bad habits that bring harm to others, persons who lack this quality might be the perpetual source of drama. Some people may find it challenging to be self-aware, although methods like mindfulness can be helpful.
Initial detection of manipulative people might be challenging. This is due to the fact that they pose as a “good” person to win your trust before exposing their true nature. People who are sensitive and empathic are frequently the targets of manipulators, who take advantage of their weaknesses.
A “narcissist” is a well-known type of manipulator. In order to acquire your trust and devotion, he or she will manipulate you using techniques like love-bombing, guilt-tripping, and gaslighting. In general, people use manipulation to exercise control over others and to fulfil their own needs.
Narcissists are people who take advantage of others because they feel too important themselves. Gaslighting, manipulation, and trauma bonding are three methods narcissists typically employ. Trauma bonding is the process of placing someone in distress so that you become reliant on and attached to them.
These egotistical and callous people deceive, cheat, divert attention, lack responsibility, and
exhibit poor self-control. As soon as they realise you’re done with them, they’ll instantly accuse you of being the cause of their bad behaviour and won’t be afraid to damage your reputation.
It might surprise you to learn that one of the toxic characteristics to watch out for is having a pessimistic mindset.
If you or someone close to you tends to have a pessimistic outlook on practically everything, you may have a negative mentality. Either something horrible will occur, or nothing will ever go as planned. They also tend to deny opportunities for personal development, overanalyze situations, and see them as doomed.
Other indications of a gloomy outlook include persistent self-doubt and critical self-talk, which can cause confident, upbeat friends to drift apart. Be truthful. Would you put up with such a person?
Beware of those who are sheep in wolf’s clothing—deceitful, insecure, and thirsty for
attention—and who appears to be someone they are not.
A pretentious person will exaggerate their personality to appear affable, sincere, real, clever, or affluent. Giving off a false impression is, in fact, a sort of manipulation used to get close to you before letting go of your real, toxic selves. Your relationship with a dishonest person cannot be fruitful since it is based solely on deception.
Selfishness, as opposed to self-centeredness, is a propensity to overly prioritise your wants over those of others. Additionally, you don’t give a damn about how they feel. Every single thing is biassed. You are not interested if you cannot gain from it. These horrible behaviours will drive friends and family members away.
Some people are quick to express regret for faults that make others feel bad. not a person with this destructive personality. When you confront them about their inappropriate behaviour, they won’t apologise and will instead defend it. Your feelings are simply unimportant to them. To let rid of ego and accept fault, you see, requires bravery, empathy, caring, and character.
Because they frequently lack self-awareness, toxic people are unable or unable of admitting their errors. Why you hardly ever receive an apology may also be due to a lack of ability to feel shame, guilt, regret, or outright malice. In the event that they do apologise, it is typically a feigned, feigned apology.
There’s a good chance you know someone who feels as though life has given them a poor hand. If they aren’t griping about one issue after another, it’s about how nobody cares or loves them. People who have a victim mentality may even make suicidal threats to attract your attention because they want you to think they are weak and without hope.
Eventually, you’ll begin to see straight through the façade. This is actually an attempt to make you feel bad for them and donate money or provide other types of support. Once you cease providing assistance, they’ll switch to preying on someone else.
You should be aware of this foul trait because it can be harmful, making it one of the toxic
qualities you should avoid. When we have the capacity to forgive and sympathise with others while avoiding being spiteful, relationships flourish. They are extremely stubborn and have an elephant-sized memory. They don't intend to let the past go, but rather to exact revenge.
An individual with a spiteful personality is very calculated. For small grievances and perceived slights that go back months or years, they will scheme to avenge you. They have an attitude that is characterised by resentment and a deep desire for vengeance.
Myths about toxic traits
Let’s examine five misconceptions concerning toxic personality.
People can’t change their toxic personality traits
It’s simple to believe that unfavourable behavioural habits will always exist. However, this is untrue. Our personalities are ephemeral and adapt as we gain knowledge, mature, and encounter new experiences. The majority of people have the ability to change their harmful traits if they:
- Identify them
- Recognise their impact
- Continually avoid engaging in the toxic behaviours
A toxic personality makes a person innately bad
While a person’s toxic or extremely unfair attributes may cause harm to others, they do not
always render a person innately evil or bad-intentioned. As we encounter new things, we are all developing and learning. You can have toxic tendencies and still be a decent person. In actuality, everyone occasionally behaves negatively.
Developing toxic qualities is a common coping method for many people. For instance, many
dishonest people make up stories about their lives to shield themselves from criticism.
You can change a negative trait in someone else
Unfortunately, if the individual with toxic tendencies doesn’t want to change, nobody can change it—not even psychologists or life coaches. To change toxic behaviours, one must be self-aware, introspective, and willing to advance personally. By addressing their harmful tendencies, you can support someone, but you cannot control or change their attitude.
Toxic people come off as assertive or tough
Some bad habits help people succeed in their personal and professional life. But this does not render the toxic feature advantageous.
A dictatorial, inflexible, or harsh management could encourage their team to perform outstanding work. Nevertheless, these unpleasant characteristics continue to affect others negatively by fostering an unclean and hostile workplace. By describing themselves as “assertive” or “tough,” many persons with toxic leadership traits justify their actions. But being tough and assertive doesn’t have to mean hurting other people.
Those who possess toxic traits are aware of them
It’s normal to infer that someone intentionally chose to act badly. However, a lot of people with toxic tendencies are unaware of how their actions affect other people. You might not be aware of your toxic personality traits. Absolutism is one destructive trait that shows up subtly. Unless something compels you to consider your perspective, you might not be aware of how you perceive the world.
How to deal with toxic personality traits in a relationship and at work
Even while it might not be possible to cut the individual out of your life, there are other methods to cope. You must identify their toxic behaviours as a reflection of who they are, establish boundaries and limit the amount of time you spend with them. Call out unhealthy behaviours and let the person know how they affect you. Ensure to seek for professional assistance if you are experiencing abuse, anxiety, or depression.
Here are five suggestions to assist you when dealing with toxic people since you cannot always take them out of your life.
Recognise that it’s not about you
You can be tempted to place the responsibility on yourself when the actions of another person make you feel uneasy or depressed. Don’t. It’s not you that suffers and feels insecure; it’s other people. Only you have authority over your own behaviour, sense of worth, and mental health.
Anger, violence, or irritation are all possible responses to being treated poorly and can make things worse. Rather, begin by taking a few deep breaths. Then, if at all possible, leave the situation and engage in some self-care.
You can also employ grey-rocking, depending on the behaviour. In order to make it more
difficult for someone to engage with you, you can greyrock them by becoming emotionless or uninterested.
You can lessen the effects of someone’s actions on you by setting clear boundaries with them. There should be a direct outcome for every boundary.
Be truthful about how the negative attribute affects you
As previously said, many people are unaware of their detrimental personality traits. Therefore, explaining to someone how their actions have harmed your emotional well-being may persuade them to make a change.
Take assistance from others
The social health of your buddy circle, family, or team might be harmed by someone’s toxic
characteristics. Of course, you might require outside assistance. Together, you can discuss the person’s actions and build a stronger friendship in this way. You might also need to notify managers or HR if someone is acting inappropriately at work.
Understanding the characteristics of toxic personality traits can make it simpler for you to identify them in both your personal and professional relationships
Someone who has toxic characteristics can harm you. But keep in mind that their behaviour is not a reflection of yours, and you are not in charge of changing it. The only people who can accept responsibility for their acts and change are those with toxic personality qualities. You lose peace of mind and happiness when you’re with toxic people. If you need to, put yourself at a safe distance. On the other hand, if it is you who exhibits these negative traits, self- help methods and counselling can assist you in improving your behaviour.