Dr. Gary Bell
“There are two types of people, those who contribute and those who detract. You must learn that the best way to build your career and your life is through your own achievements, not by attacking the achievements of others. People will always remember what type of person you are, and they will trust or distrust you accordingly.”
Seldom have I heard words that were truer or more genuinely wise. People who have only criticism to offer are soon forgotten – those who contribute constructively become part of history.
This admonition applies not only to how we conduct ourselves, but it also has important implications for how we choose our friends and those we choose to trust. In planning the course of your life, surround yourself with those who are kind and supportive and have a good heart. Above all things, avoid those people with toxic personalities.
Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it,” according to the philosopher Cicero. Research has consistently shown that the support of others is the single best factor predicting human resilience.
But choose your friends carefully. As Max Ehrmann famously noted, “Exercise caution…for the world is full of trickery.” Betrayal is a pain that lasts a lifetime. Those who betray others will betray you. So, be selective when choosing your friends.
Let me share with you the two most helpful questions I’ve come across for assessing the actions of another person. If someone does something that is highly questionable, seems inappropriate, or plain wrong, rather than immediately offering an excuse for them and dismissing the action, simply ask yourself these questions:
“Have they ever done this before?” The answer to this question will help you distinguish an honest mistake from an enduring pattern of behavior. Everyone makes mistakes. A mistake is what they did. Repeating the same behavior several times is no longer a “mistake,” it may be who they are.
“What type of person behaves like that?” In other words: “What type of person does what that person just did?” The answer to this question gets to the core issue of whether this is the type of person you want as a friend, acquaintance, business partner, or even as a spouse!
I suggest that the answers to these questions can tell you a lot about whether this person is potentially a toxic personality or one who deserves your friendship.
Toxic people can spread unhappiness and personal suffering. They ultimately poison things with which they come in touch: other people, careers, businesses, marriages, and especially children. These people are often virtually immune to insight, remorse, or lasting positive change. I’m not talking about people with criminal personalities, but rather people who live and work with us every day.
Just as the environment has its toxins, humanity includes people who consistently do toxic things. Recognizing and avoiding toxic people is an essential skill to learn as early in life as possible. Tune in and learn how to both identify and avoid them.
“Couple Hiking”, Courtesy of Joseph Chan, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Padlocks”, Courtesy of Marcos Mayer, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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