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9 Traits Of A Toxic Friend

9 Traits Of A Toxic Friend

It’s not spring yet, but it’s never too early to do some spring cleaning of the people you hang out with. The thing is, every friendship you have is inevitably going to affect you, and change you, in a good way or in a not-so-good-way. And everyone of us is guilty of having a couple of unhealthy friendships with people who aren’t really doing us much good — people who, instead of making us happier and better beings, are doing the reverse. I call these people, “toxic friends.”

Check out the following list to identify a possibly toxic friend in your life:

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1. A toxic friend rarely makes you feel good about yourself.

When this friend is around you often feel like you’re the lesser one. They make fun of you in front of other people, or tell jokes about you to entertain the people around.  They seldom give a damn about what you think or how you feel. Sometimes, you feel like you are not good enough because of their consistent put-downs. As days go by, you might even start to see yourself through their lenses more and more, up to a point where you begin to seek their approval for a sense of security and the feeling that you are doing things right. But as a toxic friend, they feed you with more of their “honest, sincere opinions,” and “the things people say about you behind your back,” only to make you feel even more insecure about yourself.

2. A toxic friend rarely celebrates with you.

Because they also see you as competition and are jealous when they know that you’re doing better than they are. Perhaps, they never wish that you’ll succeed in life in the first place, even though they say that they only hope for the best for you. When you have something to celebrate about, they are the first to throw you a cold blanket. On top of dismissing your good news, they might even share some bad news to truly kill your buzz.

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3. A toxic friend spreads their negativity.

Because when they are feeling down, they want everyone else to be miserable as well. When they can’t be happy, they won’t let you be happy. With them, you can never really be the happiest person that you can be, because everything is dependent on their mood. When they’re having a bad day at school or at work, they will try to drag the people around them down as well. Like Regina George from Mean Girls, they want to be the one who dictates the mood of the things around them.

4. A toxic friend uses you.

When they need you, they tend to be nicer and more polite to you. They trick you into thinking that they have changed for the better, but the truth is, they are only putting on a facade so that they can manipulate you. And you on the other hand, thinking that things are finally getting better, decide to be helpful and do their bidding. But what happens after they get what they want from you, be it a copy of your homework, or your car for the week, is that they quickly revert to their old self. They don’t text, they don’t call, they stop caring about you, and they might even go back to saying mean things to you again. A toxic friend only comes to you when they need your help or feel that you can do something that would benefit them.

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5. A toxic friend always think they know better.

They think that they have everything in their bag. They think that they are smarter than you, wiser than you, and more mature than you. When it comes to planning, they believe that things are better done their way. They rarely take your suggestions or heed your advice.  Perhaps because they fear that by doing so, it means that you are right and they are wrong. A toxic friend thinks that he/she is better than whatever you can offer, and he/she will try to make you think the same way too.

6. A toxic friend talks about you behind your back.

They bitch about you behind your back, simply because they prefer being passive aggressive. Instead of facing the issue and talking about it with you, they would rather rant to their other friends, and leave other people with a biased impression of you. A toxic friend might even share your secrets with others because they are angry, jealous, or just bored. A toxic friend has little respect for your privacy. Sometimes a toxic friend will ask you about your life in the hopes of teasing out some of your more private stories, so that they can use it for gossip with their other friends.

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7. A toxic friend likes to keep score and bring up past mistakes.

To make you feel bad, they will remind you of embarrassing things and stupid mistakes you’ve made in the past. They never forgive and they never forget. They will dig up things from the past and use them against you whenever they see a need to. It’s their easiest ammunition during a fight or a disagreement. With this friend around, it’s so much harder to move on from past pains and mistakes.

8. A toxic friend loves drama. 

There are people who love drama and then there are those who live to create it. With a toxic friend around, your life is often filled with unnecessary emotional turbulence, caused by unnecessary fights, careless bitching, and just being passive aggressive to people in general. You might even notice that this need for drama starts to rub off on you and slowly, you start to feel empty without having a little drama to add some spice to your day-to-day life.

9. A toxic friend takes you for granted.

At some point along the way, this type of friend starts to take you for granted. He or she may have stopped contributing into the relationship while you still continue to do so. If you find yourself making the effort to keep the friendship going, planning evenings out, being the first one to instigate a conversation or stay in touch while they sit on the sidelines and do nothing, then perhaps it’s time for you to let go.

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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