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5 Toxic People to Avoid in Your Career

We’re social creatures and networking is key to a successful career. But not every connection is a good connection. So whether it’s in the office or out in the world, here’s five people you should steer clear from if you want to advance.  

The Complainer:


Negative energy shouldn’t be underestimated. If you work with someone who’s constantly complaining (regardless of whether or not the complaints are valid) you’ll be buried in negative thoughts which can lead to worse emotions like frustration, depression or boredom. 

Combat the Complainer: 

If they’re complaining about things that you also hate or that make you fearful for the future, you should work to fill your mind with positives. If you keep a work journal, this is a great place to make it a daily exercise. 

The Big Talker:

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You can tell a big talker immediately—because there’s rarely follow up to the action. Aside from filling your mind with unnecessary information, Big Talkers can nip at insecurities. They paint a big picture of a fictional success—and they tell the story so well you might believe it. 

Battle the Big Talker: 

Whenever someone’s accomplishments (real or not) have you feeling down, it’s best to drown out the noise and focus on self-growth. Too often we stay stuck, downing ourselves for things we can’t do—when we could simply use that time for professional development. 

If you’re feeling low about your accomplishments, grab a book, take a class—get something done. 

The Energy Vampire: 


Energy vampires can sometimes be hard to spot. For women, we’re often asked to do emotional labor at work; people begin talking to us about their feelings without asking, demand advice or expect empathy from us when we’re not ready to give it.  We’re also more likely to fill lower level roles (only 19% of C-Suite jobs are held by women but 46% of entry level jobs are.) We’re also in more support/administrative roles than our male counterparts, and these are roles that often put us in stressful high emotion situations. 

Eviscerate the Energy Vamp:

Learn to say "no"; a tough but necessary skill. (It’s honestly my favorite word.) Boundaries are extremely important, especially if you’re working extra hard to excel in your career. 

The Copycat: 

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"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." —a misleading statement. There’s a difference between finding someone inspiring and absorbing their identity. If you find that you have a strong personality or even a winning professional brand, it can easily attract people who haven’t figured themselves out just yet. This can be a distraction for you and in some cases where this person gets credit for your idea—it can harm your career.

Crush the Copycat

  1. Keep your mouth shut about your plans. When you present ideas, brand them to yourself, and be careful about when you do share them, make sure they can always be tied to you. 
  2. Strengthen your professional brand to be unique to you and align your work with it. Your professional brand is exemplified by your work ethic, work quality, public speaking style, statements and your thought processes. If your personality is sincerely shining through in all these aspects, you'll be inimitable. 

The Coaster: 

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Ah, the successful slacker, always managing to get by. They may encourage you to “take it easy” and present the work you two do as not very important. They can often have a contagious attitude, especially when they seem to do well despite not working hard.

Cruise by the coaster: 

Drown it out, sis. If you’re feeling less motivated to work, it means you should pick a new motivation. Maybe your promotion in this role doesn’t matter to you as much as where that promotion can take you. Whether your inspiration is inside, outside or somewhere else, make sure it’s galvanizing enough that you don’t ever give up working hard and improving yourself.


Bonus Personality:

The Competitor:

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Sometimes similar to the copycat, a competitive peer can be a dangerous distraction. Working in an environment where someone is constantly trying to outdo you can mean you end up paying more attention to them than your own career and before you know it…the competition has left you behind.

Kick the Competition to the curb: 

Just don’t bother with it. I strongly believe the only person worth competing against is yourself. Outdo your last success, race yourself toward your goal and try to hit it ahead of time. Comparing yourself to someone else in a way that diminishes you directly blocks you from success. 


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HAVE experience with any of these 5 folks? Drop me a line below, I love a good cup of tea.