A CEO shares the 5 types of toxic people he sees ‘over and over’ again—’watch for these signs’

The world is filled with toxic people, and working with them is a pain. The key is to learn how to identify them early on, but this can be challenging.

When you meet a person for the first time, you are seeing them at their best selves. So when I find someone hard to get along with or who displays behavior I can’t explain, I get away quickly.

In my 10-plus years of being a CEO, investor and founder, I’ve worked with thousands of people in business, and there are five types of toxic personalities I see over and over again.

To avoid working with these people as much as possible, watch for these signs:


2. Hijackers

3. Victims

Generally, good performers live in a place of gratitude. They don’t feel entitled to success, so they’re thrilled and thankful when it arrives.

But Victims live in a place of constant injustice. They see every bump in the road as confirmation that they are being unfairly targeted.

How to handle them: A Victim’s central argument might be that they are burdened with an undue workload. So raise your hand to volunteer, but know that your offer will likely be rejected. Going forward, remind them that you are willing to help, while also shouting out colleagues who are team players.

4. Martyrs

Martyrs are like victims who actually do the work, but they don’t do it well enough to justify the psychological drain they place on an organization.

They take on as much as they can handle—not to help the broader team, but to confirm the narrative they carry around about themselves as unjustly forced to take on the burdens of others.

How to handle them: Convince them that the greatest service they can do in pursuit of a cause is to delegate to people best suited to perform the individual tasks. Encourage them to redirect their energy into deploying others, instead of taking everything on themselves.

5. Gaslighters

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo