byOlivia Goldhill Blaise Pascal knew a thing or two about persuasion. (Wikimedia) The 17th century philosopher Blaise Pascal is perhaps best known for Pascal’s Wager which, in the first formal use of decision theory, argued that believing in God is the most pragmatic decision. But it seems the French thinker also had a knack for psychology. As Brain Pickings points out, Pascal set out the most effective way to get someone to change their mind, centuries before experimental psychologists began to formally study persuasion:
When we wish to correct with advantage, and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees that he was not mistaken, and that he only failed to see all sides. Now, no one is offended at not seeing everything; but one does not like to be mistaken, and that perhaps arises from the fact that man naturally cannot see everything, and that naturally he cannot err in the side he looks at, since the perceptions of our senses are always true.
People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.
Put simply, Pascal suggests that before disagreeing with someone, first point out the ways in which they’re right. And to effectively persuade someone to change their mind, lead them to discover a counter-point of their own accord. Arthur Markman, psychology professor at The University of Texas at Austin, says both these points hold true.
“One of the first things you have to do to give someone permission to change their mind is to lower their defenses and prevent them from digging their heels in to the position they already staked out,” he says. “If I immediately start to tell you all the ways in which you’re wrong, there’s no incentive for you to co-operate. But if I start by saying, ‘Ah yeah, you made a couple of really good points here, I think these are important issues,’ now you’re giving the other party a reason to want to co-operate as part of the exchange. And that gives you a chance to give voice your own concerns about their position in a way that allows co-operation.”
Markman also supports Pascal’s second persuasive suggestion. “If I have an idea myself, I feel I can claim ownership over that idea, as opposed to having to take your idea, which means I have to explicitly say, ‘I’m going to defer to you as the authority on this.’ Not everybody wants to do that,” he adds.
In other words, if it wasn’t enough that Pascal is recognized as a mathematician, physicist, and philosopher, it seems he was also an early psychologist.
by Susan David Marion Barraud for HBR
Dealing effectively with emotions is a key leadership skill. And naming our emotions — what psychologists call labeling — is an important first step in dealing with them effectively. But it’s harder than it sounds; many of us struggle to identify what exactly we are feeling, and often times the most obvious label isn’t actually the most accurate.
There are a variety of reasons why this is so difficult: We’ve been trained to believe that strong emotions should be suppressed. We have certain (sometimes unspoken) societal and organizational rules against expressing them. Or we’ve never learned a language to accurately describe our emotions. Consider these two examples:
Neena is in a meeting with Jared and the whole time he has been saying things that make her want to explode. In addition to interrupting her at every turn, he’s reminded everyone again about that one project she worked on that failed. She’s so angry.
Mikhail gets home after a long day and sighs as he hangs up his coat. His wife asks if anything’s wrong. “I’m just stressed,” he says, pulling out laptop his to finish a report.
Anger and stress are two of the emotions we see most in the workplace — or at least those are the terms we use for them most frequently. Yet they are often masks for deeper feelings that we could and should describe in more nuanced and precise ways, so that we develop greater levels of emotional agility, a critical capability that enables us to interact more successfully with ourselves and the world (more on emotional agility in my new book of the same name, available here).
Yes, Neena may be mad, but what if she is also sad? Sad that her project failed, and maybe also anxious that that failure is going to haunt her and her career. With Jared interrupting her so frequently, that anxiety feels increasingly justified. Why didn’t the project work? And what’s going to become of her job now? All of these emotions feed into her anger, but they are also separate feelings that she should identify and address.
And what if what’s behind Mikhail’s stress is the fact that he’s just not sure he’s in the right career? Long days used to be fun — why aren’t they any more? He’s surely stressed, but what’s going on under that?
These questions open up a world of potential inquiry and answers for Neena and Mikhail. Like them, we need a more nuanced vocabulary for emotions, not just for the sake of being more precise, but because incorrectly diagnosing our emotions makes us respond incorrectly. If we think we need to attend to anger, we’ll take a different approach than if we’re handling disappointment or anxiety — or we might not address them at all.
Here are three ways to get a more accurate and precise sense of your emotions:
Broaden your emotional vocabulary
Words matter. If you’re experiencing a strong emotion, take a moment to consider what to call it. But don’t stop there: once you’ve identified it, try to come up with two more words that describe how you are feeling. You might be surprised at the breadth of your emotions — or that you’ve unearthed a deeper emotion buried beneath the more obvious one.
Here’s a vocabulary list of emotion terms; you can find much more by searching Google for any one of these.
It’s equally important to do this with “positive” emotions as well as “negative” ones. Being able to say that you are excited about a new job (not just “nervous”) or trusting of a colleague (not just “he’s nice”), for example, will help you set your intentions for the role or the relationship in a way that is more likely to lead to success down the road.
Consider the intensity of the emotion
We’re apt to leap to basic descriptors like “angry” or “stressed” even when our feelings are far less extreme. I had a client Ed (not his real name) who was struggling in his marriage; he frequently described his wife as “angry” and got angry frequently in return. But as the vocabulary chart suggests, every emotion comes in a variety of flavors. When we talked about other words for his wife’s emotions, Ed saw that there were times that she was perhaps just annoyed or impatient. This insight transformed their relationship because he could suddenly see that she wasn’t just angry all the time. This meant he could actually respond to her specific emotion and concern without getting angry himself. Similarly, it matters in your own self-assessment whether you are angry or just grumpy, mournful or just dismayed, elated or just pleased.
As you label your emotions, also rate them on a scale of 1-10. How deeply are you feeling the emotion? How urgent is it, or how strong? Does that make you choose a different set of words?
Write it out
James Pennebaker has done 40 years of research into the links between writing and emotional processing. His experiments revealed that people who write about emotionally charged episodes experience a marked increase in their physical and mental well-being. Moreover, in a study of recently laid-off workers, he found that those who delved into their feelings of humiliation, anger, anxiety, and relationship difficulties were three times more likely to have been reemployed than those in control groups.
These experiments also revealed that over time those who wrote about their feelings began to develop insights into what those feelings meant (or didn’t mean!), using phrases such as “I have learned,” “It struck me that,” “The reason that,” “I now realize,” and “I understand.” The process of writing allowed them to gain a new perspective on their emotions and to understand them and their implications more clearly.
Here’s an exercise you can use to reflect through writing. You could do this every day, but it’s particularly useful when you’re going through a tough time or a big transition, or if you’re feeling emotional turmoil—or if you’ve had a difficult experience that you think you haven’t quite processed..
Set a timer for 20 minutes
Using either a notebook or computer, write about your emotional experiences from the past week, month, or year.
Don’t worry about making it perfect or readable: go where your mind takes you.
At the end, you don’t have to save the document; the point is that those thoughts are now out of you and on the page.
You can also use these three approaches—broadening your vocabulary, noting the intensity of an emotion, and writing it out—when trying to better understand another person’s emotions. As we saw with the example of Ed and his wife, we are just as likely to mislabel someone else’s emotions as our own, with similarly complicating consequences. By more understanding what they are feeling more precisely, you will be better equipped to respond in a constructive way.
Once you understand what you are feeling, then you can better address and learn from those more accurately described emotions. (If you want to assess your own Emotional Agility, here is a link to a quiz.) If Neena addresses the sadness and regret she feels in the wake of her failed project — as well as the anxiety about what it means for her career — that is more productive than trying to figure out how to deal with her anger at Jared. And if Mikhail can recognize his own career anxiety, he can start to craft a plan to build his future more deliberately — rather than simply miring himself in more of the same work when he gets home each night.
Susan David is a founder of the Harvard/McLean Institute of Coaching and is on faculty at Harvard. She is author of Emotional Agility (Avery, 2016) based on the concept named by HBR as a Management Idea of the Year. An in-demand speaker and advisor, David has worked with the senior leadership of hundreds of major organizations, including the United Nations, Ernst & Young, and the World Economic Forum. For more information, go to www.susandavid.com or @SusanDavid_PhD.
by Joseph Grenny
Twenty-three years ago, one of my employees — I’ll call him Dale — asked for a private meeting. Dale was serious and bookish and had very strong opinions. His work was fastidious. He rarely socialized with colleagues, but he was impeccable in his commitments to others. And he was skilled at his job.
As I closed the door to our huddle room, he came straight to the point, “Joseph, I’d like to offer you some feedback.”
I had expected a different agenda. But given my professions about candor in our culture, I was somewhat trapped. “Please do,” I said cautiously.
“Joseph, you are arrogant and difficult to work with. Your first inclination is to shoot down criticisms from me and others. That makes it impossible for me to do my job as an editor.” And with that, he was done. He looked at me calmly.
I compressed an hour’s worth of emotions and thoughts into mere seconds. I felt waves of shame, resentment, and anger. In my mind, I made a frenzied inventory of Dale’s defects — as though assembling a case to rebut an aggressive prosecutor. I fantasized briefly about firing him. My chest felt tight. My breathing was shallow. Through it all, I did my best to fake a composure I clearly did not feel. My tacit logic was that confessing hurt would telegraph weakness.
An overwhelming majority of the bad decisions I’ve made in my life were impulsive. They weren’t errors of faulty logic or ineffective deliberation. They were avoidable mistakes in moments when I was unwilling or unable to manage potent negative emotions. Likewise, the most consequential progress I’ve made in my development as a leader has been not in professional but in emotional competence.
The career-limiting habits I entered my profession with were a direct result of my inability to deal with emotions like anxiety, embarrassment, and fear. For example, I routinely procrastinated on tasks that provoked anxiety and a lack of confidence. I reacted defensively when embarrassed by criticism. And I struggled to speak up when my views were at odds with powerful colleagues.
The ability to recognize, own, and shape your own emotions is the master skill for deepening intimacy with loved ones, magnifying influence in the workplace, and amplifying our ability to turn ideas into results. My successes and failures have turned on this master skill more than any other.
But can you strengthen this core muscle of your emotional anatomy? If your impulses tend to override your intentions in cherished areas of life, is it possible to make the converse the norm?
Four practices have made an immense difference for me at important moments in my career, like this one when I faced “Dale.”
Own the emotion. Emotional responsibility is the precondition of emotional influence. You can’t change an emotion you don’t own. The first thing I do when struck by an overpowering feeling or impulse is to accept responsibility for its existence. My mental script is, “This is about me, not about that or them.” Emotions come prepackaged with tacit external attribution. Because an external event always precedes my experience of an emotion, it’s easy to assume that event caused it. But as long as I believe it was externally caused I am doomed to be a victim to my emotions.
For example, my anger following Dale’s criticism had nothing to do with Dale’s criticism. His statement could have corresponded to feelings of curiosity, surprise, or compassion as much as resentment and anger. The fact that I experienced the latter rather than the former was about me, not him.
Name the story. Next, you need to reflect on how you colluded with the initial event to create the present emotion. Emotions are the result of both what happens, and of the story you tell yourself about what happened. One of the powerful practices that helps me detach from and take control of my emotions is to name the stories I tell. Is it a victim story — one that emphasizes my virtues and absolves me of responsibility for what is happening? Is it a villain story — one that exaggerates the faults of others and attributes what’s happening to their evil motives? Is it a helpless story — one that convinces me that any healthy course of action (like listening humbly, speaking up honestly) is pointless? Naming my stories helps me see them for what they are — only one of myriad ways I can make sense of what’s happening. As I sat with Dale, I realized I was deep in victim and villain stories. I was thinking only of reasons he was wrong but not of how he was right — and I was attributing his criticism to his personal flaws, not his legitimate frustrations.
Challenge the story. Once you identify the story, you can take control by asking yourself questions that provoke you out of your victim, villain, and helpless stories. For example, I transform myself from a victim into an actor by asking, “What am I pretending not to know about my role in this situation?” I transform Dale from a villain into a human by asking, “Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person say this?” and I transform myself from helpless into able by asking, “What’s the right thing to do now to move toward what I really want?”
As I pondered these questions in my interaction with Dale, I saw how my impatience and… gulp… arrogance, was a big part of why he was saying this. As I asked, “What is the right thing to do…” I felt an immediate release from resentment and anger. A calming humility emerged. And, I began to ask questions rather than present my defense.
Find your primal story. Over the years, I’ve wondered why the stories I tell myself are so predictable. In my research with hundreds of leaders, I’ve found that most people have habitual stories they tell in predictable circumstances as well. Early life experiences that we perceived at the time to be threats to our safety and worth become encoded in our potent memories.
For example, perhaps a classmate in second grade coaxed you to an unsupervised place in the schoolyard and bullied you in a traumatic way. A parent may have shown you less approval than a sibling. From these experiences, the most primal part of our brains code certain conditions as threatening — physically or psychically. And from that point forward, you don’t get to vote on whether you’ll react when those conditions are present. When a larger work colleague raises his voice, your brain might connect with the old bully experience. Or, when Dale accuses you of being arrogant, your parental criticism triggers flare. I’ve found greater peace over the years as I’ve become aware of the primal origin of the stories I tell — and learned to challenge the perception that my safety and worth are at risk in these moments. When my chest got tight sitting across from Dale, simply thinking, “This can’t hurt me” and “Humility is strength not weakness” had an immediate calming effect. Reciting a specific script in moments of emotional provocation weakens trauma-induced reaction that is not relevant in the present moment.
Dale and I worked together productively for years after this episode. I’ve failed as many of these moments as I’ve mastered — but by working intentionally on these simple exercises, my successes are far more common.
Joseph Grenny is a four-time New York Timesbestselling author, keynote speaker, and leading social scientist for business performance. His work has been translated into 28 languages, is available in 36 countries, and has generated results for 300 of the Fortune 500. He is the cofounder of VitalSmarts, an innovator in corporate training and leadership development.
Hiring the wrong person costs your agency more than you might think.
According to Jörgen Sundberg, founder of Undercover Recruiter, a bad hire can end up costing your business around $840,000. That's not a number to take lightly.
Sundberg's team based their calculations on the cost of a second-level manager who makes $62,000 a year and is terminated after two and a half years. They considered the cost of hiring, onboarding, and retaining the employee, as well as the overall revenue loss associated with mistakes, failures, and missed business opportunities caused during the employee's doomed tenure.
If you work at a small agency, losing that amount of money over a single bad hire can cause unthinkable damage to your bottom line. There's simply no room for hiring mistakes.
To ensure your next hiring decision isn't a major pitfall for your business, we've compiled a list of common reasons behind poor hiring choices. Avoid these at all costs to make sure your next new hire succeeds.
4 Common Mistakes That Lead to Bad Hires
1) You fall victim to "The halo effect."
Imagine you're a hiring manager conducting interviews for an account manager position. After a long day of mediocre and disappointing candidates, your next interviewee turns out to be eloquent, positive, and friendly -- a welcome combination of traits that impress you immediately. On top of his enjoyable presence, he has a pretty solid resume. You hire him right away.
A few months after he's been onboarded, you hear word from his manager that his performance has been disappointing so far, and he shows no signs of improvement. So what went wrong? How could the candidate who impressed you so much in the interview turn out to be a total dud?
This is a perfect example of the halo effect: a type of cognitive bias that occurs when we overlook obvious faults when someone impresses us in one particular area. In this case, you were impressed by the candidate's sociable demeanor, and assumed he'd be equally impressive in other areas. His resume might not have been stellar, but since you were already sold on his sociability, you didn't even notice you were overlooking potential issues.
Beating the halo effect starts with being aware of its impact, and developing a straightforward hiring system to offset its effect. Melvin Sorcher and James Brant -- partners with Sorcher Associates, a management consulting firm -- recommend putting an evaluation process in place which requires candidates to be assessed by a group of people from different levels and areas of the company.
"The process enables the group to probe a wide range of leadership criteria and obtain balanced and complete information," Sorcher and Brant wrote in Harvard Business Review. When a candidate is reviewed by a wide range of people, it exposes them to varying sets of opinions and biases, minimizing the potential impact the halo effect can have on the hiring decision.
2) You don't know what the position really requires.
Most job requirements come in list format: a neat index of basic skills, recommended experience, and personal traits that somehow combine to describe the ideal person for the job.
Unfortunately, succeeding in most roles requires more than a laundry list of vague qualities -- particularly in the fast-paced, ever-evolving agency landscape. Hiring managers seeking candidates for a new position should set aside time before the interviews to dig a little deeper and discover "the pivot" -- the elusive set of qualities that tips the scale towards one candidate over another.
"The pivot" is a term coined by Ram Charan, a business advisor and author of Boards That Lead. As Charan describes it, the pivot is "a strand of two or three capabilities that are tightly interwoven and required for the new leader to succeed." In other words, the pivot is what separates someone who will be an average performer in the role from someone who will truly flourish and exceed your biggest expectations.
For example, when hiring a new business development manager, the pivot might be a background in economics, an adaptive nature, and a unique ability to remain calm and collected in stressful situations.
"Directors who choose the right CEOs do a lot of work before arriving at the pivot," Charan writes. "They take the time to fully understand the company's current challenges and how the external context is changing. They read analyst reports, talk to insiders, and consult outside experts to expand their thinking."
Although Charan uses "the pivot" as a way to help companies hire CEOs and other major leadership positions, it's useful for all hiring managers to think about what specific abilities really put a candidate over the edge.
3) You focus too heavily on technical skills and not enough on intangibles.
Technical skills are important -- don't get me wrong -- but they hardly ever make up for larger issues with an employee's disposition, attitude, and work ethic. Hiring an employee primarily on the merit of their technical skills could cause you to overlook other major red flags -- and might lead to a wasted investment in an unfit employee.
According to a study conducted by Leadership IQ -- a leadership training and development company -- new employees rarely fail due to issues with their job competence or technical skills. In fact, of the new hires that were terminated within 18 months of being hired, only 11% failed due to technical shortcomings.
So what were the top reasons new hires didn't succeed in their new roles? Issues taking feedback, inadequate emotional intelligence, and a lack of motivation caused more employees to fail than gaps in technical job competency.
"The typical job interview process fixates on ensuring that new hires are technically competent," explained Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, on their company blog. "But coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament are much more predictive of a new hire's success or failure. Do technical skills really matter if the employee isn't open to improving, alienates their coworkers, lacks emotional intelligence and has the wrong personality for the job?"
It's easy to get blinded by an employee's impressive technical skill set, but hiring managers need to look beyond the resume and make sure candidates have the right attitude, disposition, and mindset for the role as well.
4) You treat every open position like an emergency hire.
Sometimes it's necessary to get someone hired and onboarded as quickly as possible for the overall stability of the agency -- but most of the time, you can afford to take enough time with the hiring process to find someone who will bring the right energy to the role.
In periods of rapid growth, agencies often feel the need to acquire talent expeditiously, without much thought to the hiring framework or time line. With this attitude, it's easy for unfit hires to slip through the cracks when they wouldn't have otherwise been considered.
Linda Brenner, a coauthor of Talent Valuation and the CEO of Talent Growth Advisors, emphasizes the importance of prioritizing hiring for open roles according to long-term business needs.
"Start by identifying which roles are most essential to delivering on future growth commitments -- not just to continuing your operations right now," Brenner writes in Fast Company. "Finding and hiring top talent in those areas is most essential."
Once you've identified which roles to prioritize, develop a hiring time line that allows your team adequate time to select ideal candidates. If you start hiring now for roles that will be essential in the coming months or years, you'll be able to conduct a more thorough process that yields better candidates.
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/284061 by Dan Bova Tired of feeling tired? Here's a proven plan to win that battle. Image credit: Karl Erickson
Are you exhausted? I feel exhausted just typing that question. Luckily, former Green Beret Sergeant Major (retired) Karl Erickson shared withEntrepreneur a military-tested morning plan of attack that boosts energy, productivity and sanity.
"Military morning routines prepare us for combat, but they also transfer well to the office, without a doubt," Erickson told me.
I must admit I was terrified he was going to insist on cutting out coffee when we spoke. Read on to find out if my fears were justified.
1. Get your blood pumping.
"In the movies, you always see members of the military out in the morning running in formation. Yeah, we do that in real life. Why? We do it first thing in the morning because you want to reach and sustain that high target heart rate. It’s not only good for the body, but it boosts your mental awareness. And it clears all of the tequila out of your blood stream from the prior night. Or martinis for those gentle types out there."
2. No, seriously, get your blood pumping.
"Vigorous morning training also prepares the body for stress. The body reacts to stress in different ways, and one of those ways is that your heart rate can skyrocket. So by exercising, you’re preparing your heart to physically handle the stress of the boardroom. Even when we spend a day on the shooting range, we also end a session with a stress test. Get that heart rate up."
3. Some is better than none.
"If you don’t have time to go running before you get in your car or on that train every morning, doing some exercise is better than none. Just doing 100 jumping jacks and five minutes of kettlebell swings will make a difference. You’ve got to make it part of your routine."
4. Just say yes to coffee.
"The military has done tests on every kind of stimulant and depressant out there and they have found that caffeine really doesn’t have any downside. In terms of early morning missions or late night guard posts, caffeine has proven to be the best way to keep alert without adverse side effects. So getting that cup of Joe in the morning will safely and efficiently wake you up and get your brain going.
"If Starbucks prices are making you want to quit coffee, I’d advise you not to do it before an important meeting. You will get a crazy withdrawal headache. I need my caffeine and always have a backup plan. When I’d take my sniper team up on a mountain in Afghanistan, you couldn’t make a cup of coffee because you’d be able to smell that coffee for miles away. So I had a bag of chocolate-covered espresso beans I carried with me to get my fix without letting the enemy know I was coming."
5. Establish a battle rhythm.
"That’s military speak for writing out your goals for the day. Have a list of your objectives, then draw out a plan for how you can achieve them. Do this every day, and you will start to see patterns. That’s how you gain efficiency. Start with your goal and backward plan on how to get to it.
"If I need to get on a plane tomorrow morning at 6 a.m., I need to stop drinking tequila an hour earlier tonight. I'm kidding, but this is how you find that a sustainable battle rhythm. Rather than stumbling through the day from one task to another, you have an established schedule. And make sure that schedule includes exercise! If you leave out exercise, you might as well bow like a sheep. You’ll be like all the other soft people out there. If you want to win on the battlefield, you’ve got to be disciplined."
6. Make lists and lists and lists.
"Make lists of everything you need to do every day, every week, every month. And go over those lists every morning. This helps you prioritizeyour days and eventually those lists of tasks turn into lists of accomplishments. Even if you only accomplish one thing a day, at the end of the month, you’ve completed 30 things you set out to do. Those small things add up and that provides a great mental boost that energizes you to do more."
7. Put on your grown-up pants.
"How you dress and take care of yourself is vitally important to conquering your day. Even in combat zones, you’ll see the soldiers have clean-shaven faces. Special Ops guys might grow beards, but that’s just to blend in with the locals. But their uniforms and equipment are in perfect order, clean and correct. Even in Ranger School, where you live like an animal, hygiene is harped on.
"They did studies that showed that just brushing your teeth will raise your morale 13 percent. So you get up in the morning, you’re all pissed off, you know you have a terrible day ahead of you, but take the time to present yourself as a true professional. When you know that all of your shit is correct, that gives you a big boost of confidence."
8. Turn off your brain.
"Getting enough sleep sounds obvious, but it is something many of us struggle with. The problem with taking drugs like Benadryl or stronger stuff is that yes, they will knock you out, but you won’t get any REM. That’s completely worthless sleep. You might as well just be unconscious.
"If you can’t sleep, get up and exercise, wear yourself out. If you’re mentally strapped, there are many mental games that you can do that are relaxing. People talk about counting sheep, I assemble and disassemble guns. I lay there and mentally take apart a firearm step by step. Now I’m not sure that would work for everyone out there, but the point is that I force my brain to concentrate on a particular task and in doing so, take my attention off what is stressing me out."
9. If you can't sleep now, sleep tomorrow
"The military did studies and eight hours of sleep is optimal. But the military pushes itself a lot and guys often go for long stretches without getting much sleep at all. Just like a lot of entrepreneurs. If you get two hours of sleep for three days straight, you're a zombie. But what these studies found is that if a guy gets little or no sleep for days, but then is allowed to rack out for 16 hours straight, he can regain all of that sleep that he lost. So turn off your phone, get those zzz's andrecharge."
Dr Travis Bradberry
Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. As important as it is to learn how to deal with different kinds of people, truly toxic people will never be worth your time and energy—and they take a lot of each. Toxic people create unnecessary complexity, strife, and, worst of all, stress.
“People inspire you, or they drain you—pick them wisely.” - Hans F. Hansen
The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to use emotional intelligence to identify toxic people and keep them at bay. It’s often said that you’re the product of the five people you spend the most time with. If you allow even one of those five people to be toxic, you’ll soon find out how capable he or she is of holding you back. You can’t hope to distance yourself from toxic people until you first know who they are. The trick is to separate those who are annoying or simply difficult from those who are truly toxic. What follows are ten types of toxic drainers that you should stay away from at all costs so that you don’t become one yourself. 1. The Gossip “Great minds discuss ideas, average ones discuss events, and small minds discuss people.” - Eleanor Roosevelt Gossipers derive pleasure from other people’s misfortunes. It might be fun to peer into somebody else’s personal or professional faux pas at first, but over time, it gets tiring, makes you feel gross, and hurts other people. There are too many positives out there and too much to learn from interesting people to waste your time talking about the misfortune of others. 2. The Temperamental Some people have absolutely no control over their emotions. They will lash out at you and project their feelings onto you, all the while thinking that you’re the one causing their malaise. Temperamental people are tough to dump from your life because their lack of control over their emotions makes you feel bad for them. When push comes to shove though, temperamental people will use you as their emotional toilet and should be avoided at all costs. 3. The Victim Victims are tough to identify because you initially empathize with their problems. But as time passes, you begin to realize that their “time of need” is all the time. Victims actively push away any personal responsibility by making every speed bump they encounter into an uncrossable mountain. They don’t see tough times as opportunities to learn and grow from; instead, they see them as an out. There’s an old saying: “Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.” It perfectly captures the toxicity of the victim, who chooses to suffer every time. 4. The Self-Absorbed Self-absorbed people bring you down through the impassionate distance they maintain from other people. You can usually tell when you’re hanging around self-absorbed people because you start to feel completely alone. This happens because as far as they’re concerned, there’s no point in having a real connection between them and anyone else. You’re merely a tool used to build their self-esteem. 5. The Envious To envious people, the grass is always greener somewhere else. Even when something great happens to envious people, they don’t derive any satisfaction from it. This is because they measure their fortune against the world’s when they should be deriving their satisfaction from within. And let’s face it, there’s always someone out there who’s doing better if you look hard enough. Spending too much time around envious people is dangerous because they teach you to trivialize your own accomplishments. 6. The Manipulator Manipulators suck time and energy out of your life under the façade of friendship. They can be tricky to deal with because they treat you like a friend. They know what you like, what makes you happy, and what you think is funny, but the difference is that they use this information as part of a hidden agenda. Manipulators always want something from you, and if you look back on your relationships with them, it’s all take, take, take, with little or no giving. They’ll do anything to win you over just so they can work you over. 7. The Dementor In J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, Dementors are evil creatures that suck people’s souls out of their bodies, leaving them merely as shells of humans. Whenever a Dementor enters the room, it goes dark, people get cold, and they begin to recall their worst memories. Rowling said that she developed the concept for Dementors based on highly negative people—the kind of people who have the ability to walk into a room and instantly suck the life out of it. Dementors suck the life out of the room by imposing their negativity and pessimism upon everyone they encounter. Their viewpoints are always glass half empty, and they can inject fear and concern into even the most benign situations. A Notre Dame University study found that students assigned to roommates who thought negatively were far more likely to develop negative thinking and even depression themselves. 8. The Twisted There are certain toxic people who have bad intentions, deriving deep satisfaction from the pain and misery of others. They are either out to hurt you, to make you feel bad, or to get something from you; otherwise, they have no interest in you. The only good thing about this type is that you can spot their intentions quickly, which makes it that much faster to get them out of your life. 9. The Judgmental Judgmental people are quick to tell you exactly what is and isn’t cool. They have a way of taking the thing you’re most passionate about and making you feel terrible about it. Instead of appreciating and learning from people who are different from them, judgmental people look down on others. Judgmental people stifle your desire to be a passionate, expressive person, so you’re best off cutting them out and being yourself. 10. The Arrogant Arrogant people are a waste of your time because they see everything you do as a personal challenge. Arrogance is false confidence, and it always masks major insecurities. A University of Akron study found that arrogance is correlated with a slew of problems in the workplace. Arrogant people tend to be lower performers, more disagreeable, and have more cognitive problems than the average person. How to Protect Yourself Once You Spot ‘Em Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it—their behavior truly goes against reason, so why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix? The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally, and approach your interactions with them like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink if you prefer that analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos—only the facts. Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine, and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so. Most people feel as though because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve identified a toxic person, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when and where you don’t. You can establish boundaries, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you’re bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to cross them, which they will. Have you bumped into any of these types of toxic people? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.