Everyone has some traits that tend to rub people the wrong way. You might be guilty of dodging jobs you don’t like, assuming you’re smarter than someone or thinking you should be treated differently than the people around you.

While no personality trait or type is better or worse than others, when a behavior becomes a habit in your life it can sometimes turn toxic. You might not notice it at first but the people around you probably will! 

Here are 5 common toxic personality traits to watch out for, as well as methods you can use to combat them before they take over.

1. You think you know more than everyone else

Self-confidence is a good thing but it can quickly stray into arrogance in the wrong situations. If you find yourself thinking you’re smarter, funnier or more knowledgeable than everyone else then you probably have this toxic trait.

The know-it-all toxic personality trait plays out in the way you interact with people in your everyday life, especially in social groups and work environments. In its extremes, you might refuse to listen to people because you think they’re stupid or slow. You probably talk over them or cut in when they’re trying to say something. Maybe you don’t even give them a chance to talk because you’re too busy dominating the conversation with your ‘amazing’ ideas and stories of your ‘awesome’ life.

Don’t be this person. Instead, work on listening instead of talking. Practice letting others take charge and move forward with their ideas, no matter how difficult it is for you to take a back seat.

2. You’re good at lying

When it comes to toxic personality traits, lying is a tricky one. There’s a lot of benefits to telling white lies here and there but lying can quickly become a habit that’s hard to shake. Maybe you tell lies to help you get ahead or to avoid getting in trouble for something. Whatever the reason, this toxic personality trait can rapidly get out of hand.

The toughest thing about lying is you only notice you’ve got a problem when you get caught. One lie leads to another lie which leads to another lie and before you know it, you’re tangled up in too many lies. There’s a reason it’s called a web!

To work on curbing this toxic personality trait, try to catch yourself when you’re lying. Look at the triggers for this toxic trait:

  • Who are you with? 
  • What are you doing?
  • What type of environment are you in?
  • How do you feel?
  • Why are you lying? E.g. Are you lying to make yourself feel better or to help someone else?

If you can stop and think about the situations that make you lie, you can try to find ways to avoid the triggers or come up with new methods to respond to them that don’t involve lying.

3. You can be negative

Do you ever feel like everything in life is against you? While we all go through tough times, some people can develop the toxic personality trait of constant negativity. The glass is always half empty and nothing will ever work out.

If you find yourself approaching situations with the perspective that you’re doomed to fail, you’re definitely straying into negativity territory. To people around you, this dominant Debbie Downer trait can be difficult to deal with. It’s hard to be around someone who is constantly pessimistic about the future.

If you find yourself being more negative than usual, try to find a way to bring positivity into every day. You could start a pleasure journal where you write down everything that brought you pleasure and made you happy each day. It can be something small like the sun coming out or seeing a dog playing in the park. Try to pick out the positives to balance out the negatives and see if it helps you make a change.

4. You think you deserve special treatment

Some of the most difficult people to be around are the ones who think they should be treated like a king or queen all the time. Not to be confused with people who don’t follow the rules - though that can also go hand-in-hand with this trait - the special treatment toxic personality trait usually comes out as difficult, snobbish and generally rude behavior.

You can recognize this toxic personality trait in yourself if you’re the person who thinks you should always be seated first in a restaurant, given discounts and generally fawned over. Maybe you find yourself complaining often and asking to “speak to the manager” or you shirk responsibilities at your job because you think it’s not your place to do them. Whatever your classic behaviors are, watch out for this toxic trait!

To combat the princess/prince mentality, try to practice empathy. Think about the people around you and how they feel. They don’t deserve to be treated badly just because you think you deserve to be treated well, do they? Try to put yourself in their shoes and think before you speak.

5. You’re happy to let others do the hard work

Are you the type of person who tries to dodge tasks that you find difficult or boring? Maybe you tell someone you’ll do something but then you ‘forget’ or don’t bother. These are signs of another toxic personality trait: the Slacker.

Everyone has up and down days but if you’re constantly shirking responsibilities and avoiding jobs you don’t like, you need to take note. Laziness is a toxic personality trait that can make you quickly lose friends - and even lose your job! 

To fix this toxic personality trait, try to find ways to make the jobs you hate more fun. Put on your favorite playlist and get it done. Or give yourself a treat when you finish a difficult task. If you can work on being more reliable and improving your work ethic, you’ll find that people warm to you and start to recognize your achievements. 

Think you have these toxic personality traits?

To combat any toxic personality trait, the first step is to recognize the problem. Then you can take baby steps to reduce the influence that your toxic traits have on your life and hopefully remove them completely. To find out what your most difficult personality traits are, take our toxic personality test!

Elizabeth Harris
Elizabeth is a freelance writer and ghostwriter. She’s an anthropologist at heart and loves using social theory to get deeper into the topics she writes about. Born in the UK, Elizabeth has lived in Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Dubai before moving most recently to Budapest, Hungary. She’s an ENTJ with ENFJ leanings. Find out more about her work at bethharris.com