Category Archives: Toxic Behaviour

Friend or Foe? What Toxic People do at Work, School or at Home

It can be pretty hard to tell whether our neighbours, school mates or work colleagues are our enemies or our friends.  This is due to a number of human characteristics.  As we progress through life we are drilled into teams and indoctrinated to believe cooperation and competition are healthy.   (Sometimes things are won by fair means or foul((but thats OK provided you are the winner)).  Life revolves around getting on with people i.e. you must fit in, otherwise we are at fault and are rejected.  Really.  Because of this sometimes we put our trust in people we should not and our friends turn out to be anything but friendly.  When people are your enemy you may never know what they are doing, actively or passively to work against you, but when they do it can have a devastating effect on your life.  You would need to be a detective to be alert to the danger of allowing the wrong people access to your life, your property, your work or your wealth.  You hear all the time in the news, Be alert!  Scammers are teaming up to to rob people by masquerading as officials to inspect their property and while one of them keeps you busy the other is robbing your purse.  One cyber security expert thinks that the internet is a dangerous place – he opens his lectures by airing the startling fact that 99.99999998% of people are your enemies and out for themselves, to steal from you or damage you in some way to their advantage and he then asks would you let them in your front door?  Before outlining the type of security measures needed to keep people out of your computer.

Am I Just being Paranoid?

Most people when they air concerns about people acting against them will come across the re-assurance of their “friends” telling them “you are just being paranoid”.  The late Dr Tim Field said that it would be naive, not to apply a level of vigilance to your life, your property and your wealth.   Yet paranoia is a mental illness and this is used in a derogatory way to disarm careful people by introducing doubt about the way they think.  He introduced the fact that hyper-vigilance which is similar to paranoia as a symptom of PTSD which people who have been traumatised feel when they are reminded of the events.  (People who have been bullied will also have flashbacks, and sleepless nights from their experiences.)

Motivation

Humans take pride in their achievements but among our emotions are jealously and envy.  People are motivated by their activities and achievements, be it a job well done, a new creation at home or in the garden, a new acquisition, reaching a particular level in sport or games or showing courage and leadership.  All of these signal success.  Our friends are people who share that success and partner with us to achieve it, they share our achievements and support us to meet our goals.  There are a number of sides to this:  If you are selfish and don’t share credit or recognise the contribution of others, you would pretty soon demotivate your friends if you weren’t careful.  Also it is easy to see that if people aren’t included in the activity they can become jealous or envious of an achievement and want to copy it or own it themselves – no problem if  they know how, but the deviant may steal it or usurp the credit.  People lead by setting examples, successful people teach and mentor others.

Live and Let Live

Normal is being able to recognise that some people get to the head of the queue before others and that is their life.  Accepting your place in the hierarchy and making your own way in the world give satisfaction.  Exceptionally handing your achievements to an exceptional team member or some body who needs it more than you are a sign of distinction.  When negative emotions come together, people with good emotional skills can recognise and deal with it – using tact and diplomacy for example.  We live and let live.

Some people however cheat and steal their way to the head of the queue, and take advantage of others – after all – all is fair in love and war.  These people think nothing of others and focus everything on themselves, acting to the detriment of whoever is in the way.  They are out to steal your life if they can get it, or destroy it.  Their aim is to put you further down the hierarchy than them.  Often because they can’t dominate you or achieve superiority fairly, toxic people will resort to devious means.  Sometimes this type of behavior can be fun,  (when its between equals and without ego) often it can be to teach a lesson.  When a toxic character is active their actions may be covert, malicious acts, hidden from you perhaps disguised as fun or banter, or it can be overt, designed to humiliate you in public for example.  Focusing on the malicious behaviour of toxic people, the ultimate aim is destruction by eroding the targets self esteem and confidence.  A number of techniques are available for this purpose.

What sort of activities do our enemies get up to?

Toxic Work Places.  

Deviant toxic bosses create stress by: Setting work targets that are un-achievable, withdrawing funds and support or by forcing their victim to go through stressful, prolonged and repetitive work processes.  They can engineer bad feedback in annual reports or threaten to by-pass the law by giving bad verbal references limiting peoples careers.  They may also resort to goal blocking – actively and covertly preventing people from meeting their target(s) or interfering with their motivational projects.  The pleasure these people get is from watching people struggle and the satisfaction of promoting their sycophants above good people – because their social skills are “better”.   In the NHS the author has observed untrained and inexperienced sycophants taking over their colleagues jobs after the colleague had been successful at it for a number of years.  This particular tool gives senior managers in the NHS the opportunity to by-pass legitimate promotion routes and give jobs to their favourite employees – in return for favours.  Many people feel let down by this in the NHS, and for that reason the NHS is viewed as a toxic workplace.  It spends a lot of money countering this by spinning it and covering it up with taboos.  The NHS says it is out to change this culture, but resistance is high among people who would lose power if it did.  In the authors experience, having a toxic boss in your life limits it – even if that person eventually reveals himself as criminal, the damage is done.

Poisonous Neighbours

In the neighbourhood, toxic neighbours often apply similar behavior, limiting a victims enjoyment of their property.  They act by humiliating and dominating their victim.  Some such actions may come out of the desire for revenge where the assailant picks on various aspects of the victims life such as his or her hobby or property developments, by directly interfering in them.  They bragg about it in public or behind the victims back, trashing their work or new new creations or rubbish the victims efforts poisoning their lives.

Unfortunately while the law exists to  deal with this – it is expensive and difficult to apply making the neighbourhood a playground for toxic people.