Personal Development

7 Toxic Types to Stay Clear of at Work

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When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity. " ~ Dale Carnegie ~

We would all love to surround ourselves with people who are supportive and inspire us to become the best that we can. Virtually every successful person will stress the importance of surrounding ourselves with these types of people. Unfortunately there are people out there who will have the opposite effect. These people have been called many things; toxic, energy vampires or worse. If we are fortunate or strong enough we have either managed to avoid them or have removed them from our lives. However, in the workplace we often have to work with people who we would otherwise give a wide berth to. While this is often unavoidable, our ability to recognize these people will help us minimize our time and interaction with them.

Here are 7 types that you need to stay clear of or limit your time around:

Perpetual Victims

These are people who are always blaming others for their problems and never take responsibility for their own actions. They contribute their lack of success to the fact that others, situations or events, have conspired against them. They see other's success as a result of having opportunities and advantages that they never had. Being around these people can become a downer very quickly.

Chronic Complainers

Complainers never seem to be satisfied unless they have a person, circumstance or situation to oppose. They have an innate ability to pick out the negative in any situation and have no hesitation pointing it out to you or anyone else that will listen. They love to hang out with other chronic complainers and if they don't join them in their complaining efforts, they will quickly move on to find more fertile ground. These people will quickly drain the energy out of you if you aren't able to get away from them.

Control Freaks

Control freaks have a need to be in charge in every situation they are in. If they are not able to do so, they quickly lose interest and move on to environments where they can be in charge. They love to find needy people who have low self-esteem that they can easily control and manipulate. If they find they can't control you, they will quickly lose interest and move on to easier pickings.

Envious and Jealous Types

These are the types of people that will quickly voice a negative opinion whenever the topic of anyone's success comes up. Often frustrated by achieving what they feel is due in their own lives, the success of others bothers them as it points out their own inadequacies. If you are forced to be around these types due to work or family situations, never share your achievements or dreams with them as they are sure to want to rain on your parade.


Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Great minds discuss ideas, average ones discuss events, and small minds discuss people." Gossips are the small minds that seem to be in their element and comfort zone discussing people. Often their talk is malicious and they seem to get great pleasure out of the misfortunes of others. These are not people that have passions or goals that they are striving for or have a broad range of interests in the world around them. They have a tendency to interact with others who also have limited interests in the big world around them. Gossips tend to make up information about people that they know little about that will not participate in their sessions. Don't be surprised to hear things about you that have been fabricated. By ignoring them or laughing off what they say you will keep them from wasting any of your energy.

Seriously Judgmental Types

We all have our preferences and judgements but seriously judgmental people take theirs to an extreme level. Judgmental types see the world as black and white, right or wrong. There is little room in their world for opinions and viewpoints that differ from their own. You are either on their side, or against them. They often lack or have a limited sense of humour. If they do use humour, it is often of the sarcastic and cutting type, aimed at those who differ in their opinions or outlook from them.

Arrogant Types

In almost every workplace there is someone who feels they know more than you do, or can do everything better than you do. If there is something that you can do better they will view it as not as important as something that they are good at. Arrogance is quite different from self-confidence. Truly self-confident people are not threatened by the achievements of others and do not feel the need to belittle or put them down. Arrogance is a way to cover up feelings of lack of confidence and insecurities. Being around arrogant people will feel like a constant struggle as you will feel that everything you do will be judged as being less than good enough.

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About the author

Harvey Deutschendorf

Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, internationally published author and speaker. To take the EI Quiz go to His book THE OTHER KIND OF SMART, Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success has been published in 4 languages. Harvey writes for FAST COMPANY and has a monthly column with HRPROFESSIONALS MAGAZINE. You can follow him on Twitter @theeiguy