If only people wore identity pins for their strongest traits the journey of life would be such a smooth ride; but we don't. People are free to determine how they want to be perceived and to practice until they are perfect at their presentation. You might imagine that a truly toxic person would be easy to identify and maybe they are; if you know what to look for! If not, prepare to be side lined by their vitriol and victimized for as long as you choose to remain in their sights. 'Sights' is the correct word; for they seek good targets and focus on them, fine tuning you into their line of fire like a scope. You're it!
These are the traits to beware of; whether in a relationship, a friendship, a work situation or just doing your job and suddenly running amok for no apparent reason.
1) Watch for their anger. It is palpable and always present. Clenched jaws or fists even when there is no clear reason are the most obvious signs. But listen; the tone in their voice suggests barely concealed anger.
2) Innocent comments that should elicit no emotion suddenly become fighting words. Out comes that hidden anger to blame, judge and finally accuse you. This leaves you wondering how the conversation derailed into this kind of chaos. Everything is a good reason for the anger to surface for toxic people.
3) Listen carefully. Even compliments are back-handed from toxic people. Almost every comment is negative, unless of course you offer a negative comment at which time you are wrong. They must be right, always.
4) They are quick to remind you of things they have done and failed to be recognized for.
5) Their world is about them. They love creating a scene, imagining it makes them appear important.
6) Your opinions are always wrong; they must not only be right but also the smartest one in the conversation. You must recognize them as such. Your failures to do this means you are questioning their intelligence.
7) They are always offended. Every comment is an effort to unseat them in the position of knowing more or being more than those around them. They take every comment personally. You may not even recognize the events as they begin their tirade about what they imagined just happened.
8) Constant verbal complaining about almost anything is typical.
9) They need to appear important; you can never appear more so than them. If you so, expect the angry tirade about what you did wrong.
10) They are always the victim of somebody or some event.
You may imagine these traits are so bad no one could miss recognizing them. Not true; remember the discussion about how practiced we all become at how we want to be perceived? Bingo; like the fly and the spider web, they are clever enough to entice you with niceties, watch for the things that trigger your own emotions and load them into their arsenal to shoot at you later.
These people are all abusive. Like the best abusers, they will never admit what is happening. When confronted with evidence they cannot refute expect the number one response from an abuser, "See what you made me do!" Every event is someone else's fault. They are completely innocent, even appearing docile at times as they retreat to that perception they have perfected.
Perhaps the saddest part of this toxic story is how these offenders leave innocent people questioning their own actions and wondering how things went so badly. If you are in a workplace situation with someone like this deny them the opportunity to engage with you. They need a victim. Stay with firm, fair and friendly'; leave as soon as possible.
If you are a sibling in this situation remove yourself from their line of fire. Do not imagine you will change their mind. Their perception is altered to a place where winning is the only acceptable outcome, regardless of the damage necessary to effect that result. Quietly exit the situations they create with as few words as possible. Words are their arrows to shoot at you.
If you are in a relationship or friendship with a toxic person you win with your shoes. Walking away is the only method that guarantees you will not continue to be their victim. Cut the ties that bind. Pay attention to the signals toxic people send, to the traits that identify them. Too often we fall victim to the same kinds of people until we learn to recognize the misery they are engaged in perpetrating.