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Updated: Nov 4, 2021

Today I’m tackling a subject which I think every one of us faces at least every now and again. It’s one of a series of episodes where I TELL IT LIKE IT IS. The SERIES 1 TIMEWASTERS episode was in the same vein and hugely popular and generated a lot of activity on social media and I suspect that my episode of a few weeks ago – COLLABO-HATERS will go down just as well. Today I will be talking about all different forms of TOXIC people, advising you how to SPOT them, how to AVOID them and how to get rid of them.

Last week’s episode was called KILLING THE MICROWAVE MENTALITY and talked about exchanging the fast food, Netflix on demand, Amazon drop shipping, EVERYTHING NOW mindset in regard to achieving your goals and exchanging it for a LONGER TERM, MORE DELIBERATE and DRIVEN ONE utilizing lessons from the productivity topics of COMPOUNDING, FRONT LOADING and THE LEAN STARTUP principle.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Hammering away at a problem with short bursts of energy and then giving up because your proverbial AXE isn’t sharp is a fast route to failure in achieving your goals.

For those that caught the episode - how did you get on with the call to action? Have you applied the solutions to a goal and if so, how’s that working out for you? You can get in touch via social networking on twitter @filmproprodpod or on Facebook @filmproproductivity. If you’d rather message me privately go to the contact page on the official website and drop me a line. The more adventurous amongst you might even want to use the speak pipe service to leave a voicemail. It’s dead easy to use so why don’t you just give it a try.

Ultimately the lessons of last week can be summed up with the words DON’T GIVE UP WHAT YOU WANT MOST, FOR WHAT YOU WANT NOW. Check out the episode if you missed it. But this week we are talking about TOXIC PEOPLE and later on, I’ll be identifying 6 archetypes of TOXIC PERSONALITY to watch out for.

Daniell KoepkeI founder of the Internal Acceptance Movement says on this subject that “You don’t ever have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life. It’s one thing if a person owns up to their behaviour and makes an effort to change. But if a person disregards your feelings, ignores your boundaries, and continues to treat you in a harmful way, they need to go.”

And for the record folks – I agree with her.

I tried something a bit different this season and delegated some of the research to my friend Julia. On this episode, in particular, she had an absolute field day and really got into it. I find the topic quite fascinating myself and I had wanted to do an episode about it in season 1. As it was though, I just couldn’t fit it all in. I really hope that it provides a few tools and tricks to help you identify and get rid of TOXIC PEOPLE.

I also believe that it’s necessary to tackle these, I don’t know the right word for it, but these TELL IT HOW IT IS EPISODES as over the years I’ve found that my politeness and my seemingly casual way of working has sometimes drawn toxic people towards me.

I have found on occasion that some people see my casual working style as a green light to be impolite or to try and take over and hijack my voice or my authority, but those people don’t know what I know. That I can present as laid back because I’m all over it. I’ve prepped and I’m ready and I know exactly what I’m doing and whether they realize it or not, I’m in charge - and I will crush them like a bug if they --- Okay that’s a bit over the top - I’ll just put them in their place and move on and likely never recommend or work with them again.

Toxic people are lying about in wait for us, de-friended and shunned by the previously burned, and they WILL pop up and draw the life essence from your soul if you are not too careful.

Oh, and TOXIC people don’t appear out of the shadows wearing a dark cloak and baring a malevolent grin of mischievousness by the way. They sneak in under your radar and turn on you when you least expect it, and they can be difficult to spot as within themselves - even THEY sometimes, only sometimes mind, even they don’t know that they are toxic at all.

Like arsenic though, TOXIC PEOPLE will slowly kill you. They will take away your positive spirit and play with your mind and emotions.


When you spend a few years on this earth you begin to realize that there are some people out there that are just DIFFICULT. They are drawn to the reasonable amongst us and they make our lives, in one way or another, miserable by their actions.

“Toxic people attach themselves like cinder blocks tied to your ankles, and then invite you for a swim in their poisoned waters.” I found that quote on Tumblr and it’s by John Mark Green.

There are many different types of people in the world and from a short Google search, you’ll see that there are many that can be easily classified as “toxic”. The only thing these people seem to do is spread negativity, create problems and stress, manipulate others and worse. I’ve found articles listing up to 25 different types of TOXIC ARCHETYPE. Most articles offer up 7-10 toxic archetypes. From the naysayer and the gossiper to the manipulator and the victim and if you are in a hurry the short version of this podcast is btw, if you recognise them here – GET RID OF THEM.

The toxic personality’s power lies in their subtlety and makes them sometimes difficult to spot but if you’re the one who’s continually hurt or the one who is constantly adjusting your own behaviour to avoid their angst or whatever then chances are that it’s not you - it’s them.

Being able to spot their harmful behaviour is the first step to minimizing their impact. There are plenty of things toxic people do to manipulate people and situations to their advantage so let's just jump in and start identifying their character types. I’ll put aside the subtypes that I identified in Episode 12 - TIME WASTERS and Episode 20 BAD COLLABORATORS for now, although to some extent they are also unavoidable here. If you want to know more about those topics just check out the episodes.

The first Toxic personality type I’ll delve into here is the ENERGY VAMPIRE. These emotional and mental energy leeches tend to suck the positivity out of you and bleed you emotionally dry. These are the kind of people who always have something sad, negative or pessimistic to say. ENERGY VAMPIRES were the very first of the Toxic personality types that I ever recognized because I was researching a vampire project and I stumbled across the term online. I suddenly realized that vampires exist – that they are around us even now, and sadly YES even in daylight. No Garlic will save you from these creatures, and they lurk just as much on the internet as they do in real life so can bring you down with a DM as easily as in person.

The Emotional Vampire will often present as a VICTIM which I think of as a subtype of this archetype. They will always choose to suffer rather than trying to deal with their problems.

At first, you may feel for them and their plight because they but you’ll soon realise that every interaction with them is needy and negatively charged and you will have to limit your contact, or maybe even cut ties. When that happens you can also expect a blow up as they rage at your denial of their dietary needs.

“An energy vampire can never “steal” energy from us unless we consciously or unconsciously permit them to.” ― Mateo Sol, unquote.

Just remember that Your TIME AND ENERGY are essential for your own life. Don’t be overly willing to give them away.

The second personality type is the DRAMA MAGNET. With a Drama magnet, Something always is wrong. Always. And, of course, once a problem is solved, another one appears on the horizon. THEY THRIVE IN A CRISIS BECAUSE IT MAKES THEM FEEL IMPORTANT. And like the ENERGY VAMPIRE, they want something of you – They want your empathy, sympathy and support– and if you offer help and solutions, they never seem to take it. Watch out for these Ambulance Chasers - They’ll drag you into their drama, mess with your head and steal away your time.

These should not be mixed up with DRAMA QUEENS btw. Drama queens are equally draining as they don’t just seek out drama, they create it! I mentioned this in Episode 18 Protecting Your Mental Energy. If you have someone in your life that seems to forever be creating unnecessary drama everywhere they go, they are at the same time stealing your energy in having to deal with it just as much as the emotional misery guts vampire that I mentioned a minute ago.

Personal coach Cheryl Richardson talks about this – she says “Just because some people are fueled by drama doesn't mean you have to attend the performance.” Remember that.

Next up is THE CONTROL FREAK. These people want to control everything and everyone around them. They attempt to control everything you do, everything you say, and even everything you think and when they discover you’ve done something that they haven’t approved of, they go chicken oriental on your ass. That means MENTAL or for those of you who don’t speak Scottish rhyming slang. They just FREAK OUT when you disagree with them and will AGGRESSIVELY TRY TO CONVINCE YOU THAT THEY ARE RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG. They are so enthralled by their own reality, that they can’t comprehend how anyone can think differently from them. Thinking differently to them is like a betrayal, and you become in their mind, an enemy. By not agreeing with their every, sometimes deranged, opinion they paint you as a villain in the story of their life. The story in which they are the hero of course.

In a business or creative relationship they will tie you down further and further into their systems and their way of doing things, and take from you only what they deem to be useful. They will micromanage you to the point where creativity is dead, for no matter what you suggest, no matter how much time you spend on developing solutions, they will only ever want to do it their way. This, in turn, means that you are less and less likely to suggest any for fear of evoking their wrath.

In a relationship, this person will give you no breathing room and nag you until you agree with them. Be careful, these people will go after your emotional, conversational and mental freedom until you have nothing left to give. Get out while you can!

These character types often manifest themselves as Egotists, narcissists, or egomaniacs. They think the world revolves around them, and so they act accordingly. They are not interested in anybody and anything except themselves and often present as arrogant. Some people mistake arrogance for confidence, but there is a big difference between them; confident people inspire others, while arrogant people make others feel inferior. Fourth on my list is THE CRITIC. Have you ever felt judged and criticized no matter what you do? Negative Criticism is different than advice, and that has to be recognized and having that sort of critic in your life will introduce a lot of unnecessary toxicity to it.

They might never overtly attack you but they will insult your beliefs, appearance, and thoughts, often because they have low self-esteem and they may even manifest as a control freak or other toxic archetype at the same time. It’s bad enough, as you’ll know from episode 6, to deal with the inner critic, but when you have an actual critic in the room it makes being productive in your life and work, just that much harder!

Very often critics talk down to you, not from any real experience they have but from their own often skewed opinions of how things should be done. As creatives, the last thing we need is someone negatively criticizing our work, our ethics or our abilities, who hasn’t been asked for their opinion, and who cannot balance that criticism with goodwill and positivity.

The critic becomes the HATER when they actively try to destroy your reputation. These critics go further than just saying negative things about your work - one on one. They want to ensure that what they say is heard on social networks and in the comments section of your postings. Don’t give the haters the air to fan the flames of their hate and disrespect. Starve them of the oxygen of your responses and let their petty critical fires fizzle out instead.

One of the most common Toxic personality types is that of the MANIPULATOR. Sarah Nielsen whose book Manipulation: How to Recognize and Outwit Emotional Manipulation and Mind Control in Your Relationships says

“Manipulators use diversion tactics such as, not giving a straight answer or steering the conversation to another topic.”

All too often I’ve been misled by a manipulator. They have a way of sending out the vibe that you owe them something. THEY ALSO HAVE A WAY OF TAKING FROM YOU or DOING SOMETHING THAT HURTS YOU, then they turn around and tell you that they were doing it all FOR YOU. Remember again that you don’t owe anybody anything and if in your heart, it doesn’t feel like a favour, IT’S NOT.”

Author and poet C. JoyBell C. said “There are those whose primary ability is to spin wheels of manipulation. It is their second skin and without these spinning wheels, they simply do not know how to function.”

PSYCHOLOGICAL MANIPULATION is the exercise of undue influence through mental distortion and emotional exploitation, with the intention to seize power, control, benefits, and privileges at the victim’s expense. explains that most manipulative individuals have four common characteristics:

1. They know how to detect your weaknesses.

2. Once found, they use your weaknesses against you.

3. Through their shrewd machinations, they convince you to give up something of yourself in order to serve their self-centred interests.

4. In work, social, and family situations, once a manipulator succeeds in taking advantage of you, he or she will likely repeat the violation until you put a stop to the exploitation.

And this article, by the way, is fan-bleedin-tastic. It’s got some really powerful stuff in it. I’ll link to it in the show notes of course so check it out. In all honesty, I could do an episode just on this topic but for now here are a few of the signs to look out for.

1. PROJECTION. This is a manipulative technique when the manipulator “projects” i.e. attributes their behaviours, thoughts, and feelings onto other people. For instance, a person who is highly jealous may accuse others of acting jealous.

2. SHAMING. This is a common manipulation technique, but it is also one of the most harmful. The victim is often unaware of the abuse. It usually comes from the person whom they adore and trust.

3. TRIANGULATION. Toxic people will often bring another person into the mix. They will say something along the lines of “Well James agrees with me. In fact, he thinks that you are the one who shouldn’t be trusted because…” and so on.

4. DIVERSION. This is an extremely frustrating tactic. The toxic person will often change the subject as a means to divert your attention from the conversation and avoid taking the blame for their actions.

5. GASLIGHTING. Toxic people want to make you so unsure of yourself to the point of doubting your own perception and sanity. They want you to be so dependent on them because that is what makes them powerful. You can face this down with provable facts, but you must expect them to change to tactic 4, DIVERSION tactics when you do this. And though there are many other types of TOXIC personality out there, I’m going to end this list with GOSSIP MONGERS.

"Watch out for those types who deliberately tear other people down. One day, they will tear you down too," cautions writer Nurjean Chaneco.

Gossipers are highly interested in other people’s personal misfortunes and failures, and they love to spread this kind of “news” everywhere - even if it’s got no basis in fact. They see having a deep conversation about someone, as an exchange of information. They do it to elevate themselves above their insecurity, but there's no distinction between speculation and fact. Few things are more destructive than gossip and no matter how you look at it, spreading malicious rumours will not only hurt the subject of the gossip, it makes the gossiper look bad too. The only good thing about the gossip archetype though is that they are easy to spot, so be vigilant that you don’t get sucked in by them. And remember the old adage: Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.

So that’s just 6 examples of toxic personality but I could go on. How’s about CHRONIC LIARS who will lie to you about others, and lie to others about you. Or the NAYSAYER who is always negative and pessimistic. The slacker who avoids real work and will demotivate you no matter what you do. The ENVIOUS, who measures their success only against others and is never happy for their own accomplishments. The NEEDY who only comes TO YOU when they want something FROM YOU. The BULLY who tries to intimidate you to do what they want or the UNRELIABLE, the TEMPERAMENTAL, the COWARD the TOUCHY and the CYNIC. The list goes on.

So how do you deal with them?

“Don’t ask why people keep hurting you. Ask yourself why are you allowing it to happen.” ― Robert Tew, unquote.

There are no two ways about it, toxic people are one of life’s greatest challenges. Interacting with them will leave you emotionally wiped out and feeling frustrated, unfulfilled and possibly angry. Don’t allow yourself to become worn down as a result of giving and giving and getting nothing in return.

Remember that you don’t have to respond to toxic people or negative energy, because it will only affect you in a negative way.

If you recognize these personality traits and you have someone in your life who you dread seeing, who doesn’t respect your opinions, or makes you feel bad about yourself in any way, then you need to just say NO. It can hardly be a surprise to you that this is the advice that I offer. I mentioned it right at the top of the show, but no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel to say it, it’s most likely the best way to break away from the toxic personality who has infiltrated your life.

Singer Huey Morgan says that “You learn a lot about a person when they don’t get what they want!” so very often you’ll find that your jailbreak will have an adverse effect on them and they will likely become angered and accusatory. You’ll get over it though, and so will they.

The removal of that toxic personality from your life no matter what pot-shots they take at you as you go, will lift your spirits and grant you a freedom in your heart and soul that will be more valuable than whatever you have perceived to have lost. And of course I know that it is not always possible to walk away from family members, but you can at least hold them at arm’s length and not breath in their toxicity and the damage that they do by limiting contact.


I will sum up with a quote again from Daniell Koepke. She points out that "Not all toxic people are cruel and uncaring. Some of them love us dearly. Many of them have good intentions. Most are toxic to our being simply because they aren’t inherently bad people, but they aren’t the right people for us. And as hard as it is, we have to let them go. Life is hard enough without being around people who bring you down, and as much as you care, you can’t destroy yourself for the sake of someone else. You have to make your well being a priority. Whether that means breaking up with someone you care about, loving a family member from a distance, letting go of a friend, or removing yourself from a situation that feels painful — you have every right to leave and create a safer space for yourself."

And remember that the archetypes that I list here are the extreme versions of toxic personality types. You may find that even you the listener might occasionally find yourself gossiping, or whatever. I think you can forgive yourself that. Just be careful that one day you don’t wake up and discover that you have become that which I warn against here.


Your call to action this week is to strengthen your resolve and once and for all cut out the toxic person that’s come to mind as you listened to this show. You don’t need to create a drama around it, just close them off and shut them out. If they made you miserable in the last 12 months and you’ve taken it, then why give them permission to do so in the next. Take action and take control.

And If you don’t have a toxic personality in your life, have a drink, relax and thank the stars that your life is so good without any of the archetypes that I have talked about here today.


Remember folks, stay vigilant. Toxic people can be found everywhere. They crawl into our lives unnoticed and the negative impact they have can be very destructive. Use this episode to tune your toxicity detectors and Beware!

I’ll end with the words of Robert Tew “It’s amazing how quickly things can turn around when you remove toxic people from your life.”

Thanks again for choosing to spend your valuable time here with me. Please - take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’, and join me next time on Film Pro Productivity. The music you can hear right now is Adventures by A Himitsu You can view the show notes for this episode on the official website Please follow my personal account on Twitter and Instagram @fight_director or follow the show on Twitter @filmproprodpod or on Facebook @Filmproproductivity Thanks for supporting the show by subscribing, spreading the word and leaving an AWESOME review.

Thanks: A Himitsu

Music: Adventures by A Himitsu Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 Music released by Argofox Music provided by Audio Library ––– • Contact the artist:


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