How To Avoid Being A Toxic Person: 13 Simple Tips

I was driving to town the other day, when, at some point on the highway, I found myself near a huge truck. I don’t know if you know the type: ugly, noisy and… toxic! The exhaustion pipe was left oriented, and since the truck was rolling on my right, even if my windows were closed, I was inhaling huge amounts of gas. Toxic gas.

After a few hundreds meters I went ahead of it and looked to the rear mirror: the driver didn’t seem to have any problem with all that toxic gas he was literally exhaling on the highway. He looked calm and somehow on top of the situation. I could see he had no idea he was a really toxic person to other people.

The day went on as usual but on my way home, around the same place I met the truck, something hit me: we can all be toxic persons to other people, only we don’t realize it. We’re going on and on, relaxed and somehow on top of the situation without even noticing how infectious we can be at times, just like the driver of the morning truck. We can all spread gas on other people cars, so to speak, and the worst thing is we don’t even realize how toxic we are.

Once home, I started to think about what makes us toxic persons. Even more, I tried to identify some simple ways to avoid becoming such a person. What follows is only a short list of what I found. Generally speaking, I was searching for things which can lower your toxic “gas emissions”, making it easier to become an “ecological” citizen. The list is not even near to be complete, so feel free to add your own tips in the comments.

1. Say Thank You

Sometimes you simply forgot to say “thank you’, sometimes you’re in a hurry, or sometimes you just don’t want to say it out loud. But fact is, every time you’re not saying “thank you” you leave room for a toxic thought or approach. The simple act of saying “thank you” closes an interaction in a completely healthy way, no room left for any potential harmful follow up.

2. Say Only What You Mean

It’s not only about plain lying, although it encompasses this too. It’s about keeping what you’re saying in sync with your mind, goals and attitude. The moment you’re starting saying things you don’t really mean, your communication process becomes heavily ineffective, hence you’re going to emit huge amounts of toxic gas, just like that ugly, noisy truck.

3. Clearly State What You Want

A lot of toxicity exhales from misunderstanding. Small confusions, false impressions or misinterpretations are like glitches in a car engine. Every time you get such a glitch, it’s like having water in your gasoline: the conversation engine will start to cough and before you know it, you’ll get an increased level of toxicity. Just say what you want.

4. Say Something Nice To An Unknown Person

Like it or not, we do live in an emotionally polluted world. Doesn’t matter if this emotional pollution comes, most of the time, from people who don’t even realize they’re toxic, like the driver of that truck. What really counts in this dusty environment is to try lowering this pollution index as much as we can. And saying something nice to a completely unknown person will have exactly this effect: it will act like an air freshener, making the smog disappear at least for a few moments.

5. Don’t Gossip

Talking behind other people’s back is like putting your exhaustion pipe to somebody else door, while pretending you’re looking in a different direction. Even if you’re not talking directly to those people, you’re directing your toxic emissions to their houses. Sooner or later they’ll realize something is wrong and they’ll also identify the source.

6. No Regrets

Even if you don’t realize, when you regret stuff for yourself you’re affecting the reality of others too. Even if your regrets have nothing to do, directly, with their reality. The mere act of keeping strings attached to the past will make you be that driver who’s going ten miles per hour on a speed lane. This apparently small inconvenient of not letting others go faster will soon become toxic for them.

7. Pay Attention To People Around You

For starters, just look around and realize there are other people around you, that would be enough. A lot of toxicity arise from ignorance. If the driver of that huge truck would have look at me he could have seen that I was a little bit upset because of all this gas. But he just assumed that everything was ok, without checking. Most of the time we do the same.

8. Help Somebody Around

If “saying something nice to an unknown person” will act like an air freshener, helping somebody around will be equivalent to a full repair of a damaged exhaustion pipe. Helping other people will lower not only their existent toxicity but it will also drastically reduce the odds of an uncontrolled increase. If you help somebody out, you will in fact create a fresher environment for yourself.

9. Give Your Time To What’s Important

If you’re drifting away from task to task, without focusing on what’s really important all you’re going to do is to create an awfully crowded traffic. It’s like driving in circles on the same roads again and again, without doing anything from what you intended to. The only problem with that is that you’re becoming a problem too. If you can’t focus, move away from the road and let others reach their goals.

10. Let Go Of The Unneeded

Clutter is bad. Period. Loading yourself with tons of unneeded gadgets or beliefs will make you move slower and slower. Be elastic, be slim. Adjust instantly to new environments. If you can’t do that, you’ll be like a 4×4 car carrying away a huge truck. Not only your mileage will sky rocket, but your overall performance will go down. You will become toxic by immobility.

11. Avoid Procrastination

How many times you went in circles in a public parking waiting for a free spot? Well, if you procrastinate, you’re one of the guys keeping a parking spot for ever. And that’s pretty frustrating. Procrastination is not only an individual choice, it will affect your interaction with other people too. If you’re not doing your job, you’re infecting others with your behavior.

12 Don’t Talk Bad About Yourself

It’s contagious. Other people can borrow this attitude pretty easily and that would create some sort of an epidemic. Not to mention the fact that talking bad about yourself it’s like scratching your own car, because you think it “deserves” that. Yeah, if we’re talking about a car it’s kinda funny, right? How can one scratch his own car? But at the same time we keep talking bad about ourselves. Try to visualize yourself walking around with a lot of scars for your own punches…

13. Don’t Enter A Fight

Fighting – as in verbal fighting – it’s such a waste of time. Have you ever noticed those drivers fighting when someone blunders in traffic? They spend minutes and minutes blocking the road just to tell how smarter and skilled they are, and how stupid the other guy is. Meanwhile, the road is blocked, everybody is delayed and the toxic gas from the immobilized cars is slowly replacing the oxygen.


What are you experience with people toxicity? The list above is merely a click from a random encounter between me and a huge truck on the highway, and it is by no mean complete. Feel free to add your thoughts. It’s not toxic 🙂

61 thoughts on “How To Avoid Being A Toxic Person: 13 Simple Tips”

  1. Dragos,

    I really loved the article. I was searching for this and this is one of the few quality articles out there. Just because of the rarity and quality, you made me want to leave a comment.

    From the bottom of my heart, Thank You.
    I really needed this.


  2. I have known about my inhebriating toxicity for a while now..
    It took me a while to notice. My toxicity was feeding all my selfish desires. My toxic tendancies were merely orchestrating opportunities for me to superficially fill all the voids I had been deeply digging. Voids that I didn’t want to take the time to fix myself for fear that I would never find the end. I convinced myself that this was me doing the best I could surviving in this world.
    Life’s not about surviving.
    Its about LIVING!!!!
    It hurts like crazy to know that I’m causing so much chaos in lives around me… but thankfully I’m starting to see that everything comes back to me. Friendships that aren’t well cared for from both sides will leave you lonely. Families who can’t get through the holidays without a self seeking tantrum will eventually fall apart. And all that is lost can virtually be traced back to the inhebriating toxicity of one person.
    Anyway it’s New Year’s Eve and I’m with one of the only people who is still breathing my toxic fumes. I stopped and noticed the smile I had deprived him of, a smile that once was there. I used to believe in “Out of sight Out of mind” but that type of ignorance does nothing in this predicament. And if so.. nothing that will last.
    I hope to heavens that this is my turning point. I was exceptionally satisfied when I stumbled upon this blog in my desperation to adhere some major changes . It was also comforting to read the comments and affirmations of those who have also dealt with themselves when they weren’t very like-able. Thank you for the inspiration and ideas of alternatives to my habits. Honestly it is saving my life to know that contrary t my current state of mind, you can polish a turd. ♡♡♡

  3. Wise tips.
    Still, at number 8, I would rephrase “Help Somebody Around – only if they are specifically asking for help”. Otherwise it may backfire.
    Also, at number 8 or by itself “go the extra mile” as opposed to “if it’s working why improve it” (lasa ma ca merge asa) .
    Sorry for my bad english. 🙂

  4. Interesting reading. I am a toxic person and I will keep these in mind when interacting with normal people so that I can endeavour to make the occurrence as non toxic for them as possible.

  5. I have become toxic. I have not understood why people avoid me. I’ve only wanted attention, love, or even recognition that I’m still a valuable person. I’m sure it will take a long, long time for people to see any change in me. And loneliness can make one impatient. But I must change…

    • I feel the same Linda Marie! I think identifying that we have become toxic is the first step in recovery. Being raised by generations of Irish Professional Complaining women definitely rubbed off on me. It is hard to change the seeds planted in you since you were little. I always thought I had a great sarcastic sense of humor but now I can see others found it toxic and repelling. This greatly saddens me and now I really, really need to change. Like everyone I just want love and reassurance. My friend who has been teaching me this lesson that I am toxic is doing so in a very cruel and alienating way via social media, by showing the world we are no longer friends and how happy she is with her “Good Vibe” friends. It is upsetting being that I also suffer depression. However, I should thank my ex-friend for making me aware of my toxic ways. Now I just need to tap into the positivity…It can’t be that hard can it??

  6. When I have toxic moments, esp. around my husband, I find stopping and telling him I’m sorry and I shouldn’t have done or said that, helps a lot. It validates him as a feeling human being. I also give a reason why I am being so toxic, which is true. Everyone can relate to having a bad day. I think developing a giving heart and using a lot of disclaimers when talking to someone else really goes a long way because so many things we say to each other go misunderstood. I’ve had to admit to people in the midst of a conversation that what I just said didn’t come out right or wasn’t what I meant. At least that way you have control over what you say and do rather than blaming the other person for getting mad over nothing.

  7. I liked this article. No one wants to be around a ticking time bomb who complains about everything. Ive been guilty of that and I really want to work on that about myself. Im very hard on myself so that can come out into the open on people that do not deserve it. Its so easy to be negative; finding the good in things and being positive about certain situations is a true test. A very hard test…but its a test that will bring positive outcome!

  8. I really enjoyed this post, excellent article. I thnk a lot of this comes down to controlling the tongue, a topic which is discussed in great detail in all the major faiths of the world such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

  9. You know what’s REALLY toxic? Bloggers who feel like they have to put stupid analogies in every paragraph to get their point across.

  10. This is dangerously nasty advice.The article expects the reader to talk, or perhaps just think, badly about themselves by admitting to their “toxicity”. Furthermore, each point essentially states a human emotional problem and advises to just get over it. Invalidating and isolating. It’s an emphatically shallow hodgepodge of coffee-table inspirationals and abusive denial.

  11. Grandma was an Indian.

    I don’t know what tribe, but she taught me that their way was the way of gratitude and thanksgiving.

    In all that you do, be thankful AND do all that you do – including speaking – so that those around you can be thankful – for what you do – for what you say – and for how you say it.

    Thank you for having “Thank You” at the top of your list.

    Great reminder!

    Mr Twenty Twenty
    Whoooo yah!

  12. Pingback: 6 Anti-Rules of Successful Communication and Friendship | Balance In Me
  13. I am told that when I was born I almost died. At times like these, after yet another relationship breakup and the other person at last happy to be rid of me, I honestly wish I had. Bottom line.

    • Dear “Quiet,”
      I cant find the right words.
      I could have written your exact comments, myself (now, or at previous time in my life). (if it helps, a prior therapist told me after a painful breakup, “Well, he IS better off without you !” just so you know)

      EVERY ONE of us deserves to be accepted and loved just we are – even while we are responsible for our behavior.

      Please do not turn on yourself.
      You are okay, and you are NOT a bad person for what you’ve done – though it is up to you and you alone to do what you need to heal.


  14. I am currently learning, painfully, that I am toxic. My boyfriend is in the process of having a nervous breakdown, and I feel it’s entirely my fault. I recognise so many of the toxic person traits in myself and the pattern of my past relationships, all of which have ended badly and suddenly.
    Thank you for the tips on how to avoid being toxic. There is so much out there (even in the comments above) about getting away from toxic people, but so little on how toxic people can try to help themselves. None of us want to be like this and the condition is painful both for those close to the person, and the toxic individual.

    • I think that we all can be sometimes toxic, depending on the circumstances. I noticed for example that I may be less peaceful when driving home after a very frustrating stupid workday …being aware of it is half of the solution. Look for the root cause…

  15. Thanks for the article.
    The toxic people you meet generally have unresolved anger from their past that they can’t let go of; and they will take out their frustrations on anyone who gets in their way. Also on a neurological level, if stress chemicals remain in the brain for prolonged periods they create a toxic bath that destroys brain cells and memory.

  16. So many good tips here. I think when we make that initial assumption that people mean well and have good intentions, we can immediately see a shift both in our own outlook and how we feel. If we can give benefit of a doubt unless proven otherwise, and even then, be able to walk away and be ok with the outcome….now that takes mastery of self-control, mind-control, and requires us to put our best self forth. Which is how we should live! Great ideas, thank you for exploring them for us, Dragos!

  17. I’m not sure that ‘No regrets’ is always a good path to take.

    Sometimes we need to hold regrests for a while to remind us that we’ve been fatheads in the past. They can act as anchors whilst we adjust our behaviour, and then when they have done their job we can let go.

    A ‘No Regrets’ policy in which we just ditch any feelings we may have about our past behaviour is, I believe, selfish.
    .-= Joe Pritchard´s last blog ..Keep your tank full! =-.

  18. Dragos, I loved your philosophy about toxicity in this World… It is not just car pollutions but people are the greatest pouters at times. In addition, what you have written is true. We all have to watch how we behave and what we are saying to another. Even the language we use if someone swears a lot that is pollution too…Thank you!
    .-= ZuzannaM´s last blog ..TALL MOUNTAIN =-.

  19. Hi Dragos, this is a great list. A couple of more things to think about are:

    14. Avoid the need to control – there is nothing that makes someone more toxic than the need to control others.

    15. Avoid being needy – needy people are toxic because they thereby impose obligations on others.

  20. Hey Dragos,
    This is a superb list on how to not be a toxic person. Youre so right…sometimes we dont even realize when we are giving out our toxic fumes….and how its affecting the other people around us.
    Being aware..and positively doing all the 13 acts of sweetness will certainly do the trick.
    Much Love,
    .-= Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s last blog ..Passion Is… {RAOKA} =-.

  21. That’s a great list, Dragos (if you do not mind I’ll include this post in the ebook too :-))
    I can name one more type of toxic people – judging people. You know, the ones who when you are talking to them always seem to be analyzing you and making up their opinion about you. Thy are constantly thinking “Is this person worth of my attention?” Uugggh!
    I think that at some point pretty much all of us are those types of people and I think that it is a very good idea to get rid of this “judgementalism” and accept people just the way they are.
    .-= Anastasiya´s last blog ..Can You Be Averagely Great or Greatly Average? =-.

    • I was going to suggest adding hyper-critical people to the list of toxic people, but when I read your comment, I realized I had judgmental people in mind. I won’t add a different comment, just build on to yours.

      I think judgmental people make their travels miserable, and they make it hard for others around them as well.

      People who judge others often and harshly are people who have not accepted themselves. When they see their shadow selves in others, they reject them and judge them.

      So, this type of toxicity affects everyone, including the ones causing it. They could free themselves from it by finding and accepting who they truly are and in the process accept others as they are.
      .-= imelda´s last blog ..Feb 14, The Mock Job Interview =-.

  22. Nicely written with an effective metaphor. Two more thoughts using the same metaphor.

    1. Be Pleasant and dressed properly: Run down, badly painted or scratched trucks, leave an unpleasant taste. An attractivily and properly maintained exteriors are good to look at.
    2. Smile while driving.

  23. Fantastic points I particularly like #3 and #5, Be clear for me, just makes everyone lives much easier I have developed a habit of asking more questions if needed to ensure we are both clear …. In terms of gossip I generally feel bad and always try my ultimate best to avoid it , it does no one any good
    .-= Fatibony´s last blog ..Stay Motivated! Not With the Way I feel Right Now =-.

  24. I think the ones that I struggle with most are 6, 10, 11, and 12.

    Especially the regrets… it’s hard to let go sometimes.

    Awesome post, I will be lowering my toxicity immediately…;)
    .-= William Womack´s last blog ..The 5 Basic Truths of Blogging =-.

  25. I think the best thing you can do is to try and surround yourself with people who make you a better person. You can get in the same rut over and over again and needless to say… It isn’t going to change anything. Plus, you know deep down that isn’t where you want to be. If you surround yourself with people where you want to be… you will get to your dream quicker.

    But life is hard and it is so easy to just go back to the life you used to have. So it is a double edged sword. Go where you want to be and freak out and have some self doubt OR stay in the same situation on a dead end street.
    .-= Jamei Favreau´s last blog ..Help a PR Pro out (#HAPPO): Candidate Detroit =-.

  26. Thanks for the tweet. I do a follow friday (blog style) on my writing blog every week. I chose to feature this blog today. You don’t have to pass it on or anything like that. It’s just something I’ve done on my blog for some time. Here is the link. (Hopefully this comment won’t show up as spam because it has a link in it.)
    .-= Anne Lyken-Garner´s last blog ..Why Women Cheat =-.

  27. Dragos,

    13 simple but very powerful tips. Thank you for sharing them. I loved reading this post from the first one. Saying ‘Thank you’, something that is so easily overlooked in our busy life; taking so many things for granted.

    I like you use of the truck metaphor, very appropriate.



  28. Great content (as usual) but also interesting method, as you show us how using metaphors (drive // behave) can be a powerful creative tool !

    (btw: my comment is in line with your items 😉
    #1: Thank you for your ideas
    #2: I mean it
    #3: I like to read such post (context & trigger + list of ideas)

  29. Maybe one of the most important things is: Don’t complain. Never! I’ve seen with my own eyes how people are rejected, and one just can’t understand why.
    Don’t give unasked advice. Again, never! Be very careful even when you are asked to.
    I think this is really obvious, but may worth mentioning in the list. Of course, one may find much more.
    Have a really nice, unpolluted day!
    .-= phonedamnation´s last blog ..Asta-i magistrala! =-.

    • Great additions 🙂 Especially that part about complaining. Whenever you complain you attract the thing you are complaining about. Been born and raised in a country which makes complaining a national sport really made me understand this approach to the bones, so to speak 🙂

      • Yes, I feel you 😉 Took me a lot of time to realize that and start changing. I’ve been taught the art of complaining from very little ages, so it’s difficult to wipe out. Still having some slippage here and there, but it’s a huge leap realizing: this permits you to take action.

      • Speaking of complaining…I recommend the tiny/easy to read book, “A Complaint Free World.” and/or the related info at the website.

        They recommend the old “Rubber band” method by which one becomes more aware of complaining by snapping a rubber band on his/her wrist.

        Anyway – I probably do not do it justice in my description – but the BEST simple takeaway for me? =
        “Never complain to anyone unless they are in a position to quickly and directly resolve the problem at hand.” Anything else is fruitless.

    • All that advice is great except when you are in the stressful situation and you feel the world crumbling around you, it’s hard to remember not to complain and not to talk negatively about yourself. You talk about avoiding the toxic person – it’s tough when you are the toxic person.

      How do you stop that? I don’t think any of you understand at all.

      • Been there so many times, believe me. And that’s the whole trick, that makes the difference between success and failure: stop complaining and stop talking negatively about your self DESPITE the current circumstances…

      • I understand & hope you can ‘hang in there.’
        i became the scapegoat of my family, and my own brother and sister knock me endlessly over “being toxic”…when it is really just a matter of who and which one of us is “more/most toxic” at any given time. I am doing the hard personal work. They are clinging to the usual patterns. Yet, I am the only pariah. This may be the most painful aspect of my entire life experience, so far.

        People’s reactions to our behavior can be sooooo painful (but useful in identifying where we need to change). I totally understand the overwhelm and depression when it feels hard to get a foothold on anything positive.

        However – first step is to intentionally think less about yourself (myself) and practice taking on the perspective of others now & then. You may have exchanges with friends in which NO ONE CONSOLES or encourages you – and you are simply supporting someone else. You may feel that a specific convo or connection totally failed to meet any needs for you in that moment..BUT…(JIMO) that brings more balance to your interactions over time, and you should eventually see friends responding well to it.

        GOOD LUCK ! You are not a bad person for being this way, but you are responsible for becoming more balanced (GIVE and take) in relating to others. At least that is what I tell myself.


        • I know how you feel, Sunny. I’ve been around toxic people my whole life and was toxic myself. All of my past relationships had to go, and did, with varying amounts of difficulty and pain.

          The worst one was the last one. This just happened recently and I’m still feeling the pain and shame from it.

          A childhood friend is very codependent and she married an abusive man who was also abusive to me over the years. I behaved very badly around my friend because of my past patterns and because of this. He had a way of controlling the relationship so that I was always destabilized and disrespected, which made me push boundaries and be reactive.

          I had done a lot of work on myself but they never saw it because I was like a different person when I was with them. A few times I had a mild psychiatric breakdown while I was with them due to the stress I felt by the husband. I was terrified of him. During my divorce this man offered my ex-husband to have me killed, believe it or not – my ex was so taken aback that he warned me. I know that it’s true because he once offered to me to have one of my parents killed after I told he and his wife that this person had abused me as a child.

          So while I was toxic, and I admit it, my ex-friend ended the relationship with me in a nasty way when I finally told her that I could be her friend but I couldn’t deal with her husband any longer. She demeaned me for blaming him and shamed me. She and her husband seemed unable or unwilling to take responsibility for the dynamic in the relationship.

          I’m sure that we are all glad that the relationship has finally ended, but I do feel like the scapegoat. It feels unfair. I feel ashamed, but also angry.

          However, I think that when I politely and directly stood up for myself and dealt with the problem, it was the first non-toxic thing I ever did in the relationship and I’m proud of myself for having done it.

    • Thanks for the nice comment. I admit your comment luv post made me click 😉 Usually, there’s a huge current stating men cheat. But I wanted to be curious why women do it 🙂

  30. Hi Dragos, I just tried to contact you via twitter (I am @tamingtime) because the link to this page, and your contact weren’t working. As you can see – the fact that I am commenting they are working now…


    Great post, good to see points about how we can prevent being a toxic person ourselves. I would also add – know when it is time to cut toxic people from your life.

    In my case I had to set some clear boundaries with a family member with BPD because they were so toxic to me… making me become toxic myself!! Because with BPD being a mental illness, I choose not to cut them completely, but I needed to create a bit of distance because I didn’t like what associating with them was doing to me. (hopefully that made sense)
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..Mar 4, Time Management Tips: Free How To Manage Time Lessons =-.

    • Yeap, good point. I’ve been there so many times, and I mean literally there, being involved with poeople with BPD. Once I was able to break free, I myself become a much more reliable and happy person.


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