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How to Spot a Toxic Individual and Find the Courage To Walk Away Quickly

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One enormous benefit of working with thousands of people each year is that you learn to detect in 10 minutes or less an enormous amount about people – their energy, how they operate in the world, their sense of entitlement, generosity and consideration (or lack thereof), boundaries, degree of self-love, values, worldview and much more.

In my line of work, where hundreds of strangers reach out on the phone or online to connect, I have had to develop the capability to discern who I want to move forward with, and who I need to walk away from quickly, in order to protect myself, my time and my energy. If I fall down on that, I suffer, as do my family, colleagues and clients (and my health and well-being).

I’ve learned to see the red flag warning signs of behaviors I know I need to walk away from, and my list of warning signs might be of help to you too. I need to add that even though I walk away from these toxic individuals without guilt or shame, I endeavor to access love in my heart and deep compassion for them. I’m not cruel, harsh or dismissive (at least I try not to be), but I’m as respectful as I can be. I realize that we’re all doing the best we can every day.

But I do know where I end and they begin, and I know when it’s time to end our connection, and fast.

Below are the top 3 signs that help me know when I’m dealing with a toxic individual, and when to walk away:

1) It’s all about them
I’m astounded by people who call me at all hours of the day and night, without a thought to ask for an invitation to talk about their struggles. They launch right in, not checking in if it’s a good time to talk, and it’s all about them.

These types of people are chronically unhappy, stuck in feeling victimized, lacking in awareness of the impact of their own actions and words and that they are co-creating their problems. They’re often angry, frustrated and highly critical of others, and feel that their problems deserve immediate attention, without regard for the world around them. In other words, they believe that their urgency is your emergency.

Anyone who thinks that life is all about them and that their problems are more important or pressing than anyone else’s needs a wake-up call. But the truth is – you don’t have to be the one to deliver that call. Walk away.

2) They have no regard for your boundaries

In my work as a therapist, I’ve connected with many folks with serious psychological disorders, including severe personality disorders. One such disorder is labeled “borderline personality disorder,” and while I’m not a fan of labels, the hallmarks of this disorder are apparent: there is total lack of personal boundaries, and complete disregard for others’ boundaries. It’s virtually impossible to build a positive, mutually-supportive relationship with people who disregard or violate your boundaries, who won’t take no for an answer, and who don’t t even recognize when they’re walking all over you.

Take a look today at the people in your life – do they respect your boundaries? Do they act appropriately and honor when you assert yourself and say “Yes” or “No?” Or do they continually demand of you what you’re not comfortable to give and what you have said you would not give?

Your boundaries are the invisible barriers that separate you from the world around you. They define who you are, and keep you safe and secure, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Having well-developed boundaries ensures that you are shielded from behaviors and actions that are injurious, disrespectful and invasive. Those with healthy boundaries know their limits and are able to express themselves with quiet strength and authority.

Those with unhealthy boundaries push and pull on you in uncomfortable or aggressive ways, and don’t know when to stop. They can’t regulate their behaviors or language to honor and respect the boundaries of others.

Who is trampling on your boundaries today? (BTW, If you have a narcissistic boss who is treating you terribly, check out my Forbes post on How to Tell If Your Boss Is a Narcissist – And 5 Ways to Avoid Getting Fired By One.)

3) There’s no grace, kindness or appreciation

I’m always pleasantly surprised when I speak to a stranger or potential new client or colleague, and they connect with grace, generosity, kindness and appreciation. It’s a beautiful thing – to be greeted by a gentle voice, a kind, open heart, and sincere appreciation for what you do and who you are.

The flip side of this is when people engage with you in ways that are brusque, inconsiderate, demanding, or disrespectful. Givers – who approach life with a generous, giving mindset – are a true blessing in our lives. Insincere, self-absorbed takers, on the other hand, who are always looking for “what’s in it for me” and critically demand of you more than is fair, appropriate or realistic, need to be led out the door of your life.

How do you walk away from a toxic potential client or partner you’ve just met? Here are a few key tips:

1) Be kind and courteous, but make it clear that an engagement or partnership with this individual or his/her business isn’t a good fit for you at this time

2) Be honest – explain what an ideal partnership looks like and why this isn’t it

3) Be BOLD – Thank them for their time, but explain that you have a set of non-negotiables and standards of integrity that you live by. With love in your heart, share that these non-negotiables are just that – immutable rules that help you thrive. Explain your feeling that your non-negotiables would most likely not be honored in this arrangement, and for that reason, you’d like to leave things as they are and part ways.

Who’s toxic in your life right now? What bold, candid conversation do you need to have today to protect yourself from narcissistic, demanding takers and self-absorbed individuals who can’t or won’t respect or appreciate you?

(To learn more about building a happy, successful career, join my free career breakthrough teleclass on April 9th — Make the Right Career Move Now! And to learn how to develop healthier boundaries, read my book Breakdown Breakthrough and check out my one-on-one coaching services.)

Why Attaching To One Outcome Is The Wrong Strategy For Career Success

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Welcome to Episode 12 of Work You Love!

Today, I’m tackling a great question from Rick about why it’s the wrong move to overly-attach to one particular outcome when you want more professional success and reward.

Rick asks:

“Kathy – I’ve heard you speak about the idea that “attaching to a specific outcome” is the wrong approach. But I’m at a point as a Director in branding and communications where I feel I’m ready to be a VP and earn significantly more than I am right now, and definitely want to pursue that.  How is attaching to that outcome not a good idea?”

Terrific question! Here’s my take:

 

The key takeaways from today’s video are:

1. “Attaching” means you’re looking at one particular outcome to solve all your problems.

2. Figure what you want, then what you REALLY want.

3. Uncover what’s in the way of what you want, and how are you a part of the obstacle or impediment.

4. Be very open and flexible to new ways that you can create, build and achieve what you desire.


Today’s tweetable:

Don’t attach to one outcome as a way out of your pain. Identify what you REALLY want, and open the doors for that experience. @kathycaprino

Click to tweet:  http://ctt.ec/aUzuf

I hope that’s helpful!

Enjoy your week, and wishing you many happy breakthroughs.

Kathy

How Do I Honor My Own Priorities While Juggling the Needs of Others?

Kathy's Video Blog "Work You Love"

Welcome to Episode 10 of Work You Love!

Today, I’m taking a question from Jodi about how to honor our own priorities and do what we need and want to in our lives, while also supporting the needs of others who rely on us.

Here’s my take on that:

The top three takeaways from this video are:

1. “Honoring your priorities” doesn’t mean you’re selfish and only focus on yourself.  To the contrary, it means you realize what gives your life meaning and commit to bringing those highest visions to life (and often, that’s being of service to others in ways that fulfill your Life Intentions).

2. If you’ve given everything up for others — and feel you have to do EVERYTHING for those around you — and have lost yourself in the process, you’re honoring the wrong priority.

3. Don’t mistake utter selflessness and depleting your mind, body and spirit for the sake of others as generosity or good parenting.


Here’s a tweetable for you:

Honoring your priorities means knowing what matters most to you in life and boldly living from that knowledge every day. @kathycaprino

Click to tweet:  http://ctt.ec/b0ffi


Are you feeling stuck between your needs and wants, and the needs of others?  How do you handle it?

 

 

Successful People: The 8 Behaviors They Avoid

In my work, I’ve been fortunate to learn from amazingly successful, impactful professionals and entrepreneurs.  I’m defining “success” here as achieving what matters most to you, individually and authentically – not as some objective measure of outer wealth, accomplishment or achievement.  Observing people in action who are living fully on their terms and absolutely loving it, I’ve seen how they think, react, interrelate, problem solve, and lead.  I’ve applied these lessons to my own life, and to those I coach.

I’ve noted that people who love what they do for a living and have created tremendous success and reward, not only engage continuously in life-supporting behaviors, but also avoid certain negative actions and mindsets that other, less successful people habitually get lost in.

The 8 self-limiting, negative behaviors successful people avoid are:

Engaging in “below the line” thinking

“Below the line” thinking refers to a particular mindset that shapes how you view the world in a limiting way.  It leads to your believing that what’s happening to you is outside your control and everyone else’s fault – the economy, your industry, your boss, your spouse, etc.  Below the line thinking says, “It’s not fair what’s happening, and I don’t have what it takes to overcome these challenges. I didn’t expect this and I can’t handle it.”  Above the line thinking, on the other hand, says, “I clearly see the obstacles ahead, and I’m addressing them with open eyes.  I’m accountable for my life and my career, and I have what it takes to navigate through this successfully.  If I fail, I’ll still wake up tomorrow exactly who I am, and will have learned something critical.”

Mistaking fantastical wishful thinking for action

Successful professionals pursue outcomes that flow organically from their current actions. Unsuccessful individuals attach to fantasies that may relieve them momentarily of their situational pain but have no basis in reality.  For instance, I’ve heard from corporate professionals who share, “Kathy, I really hate my job and desperately want to leave.  I’ve been wanting to write a book and become a motivational speaker for several years now.  What’s your advice?”  I’ll respond, “OK, great.  Are you writing and speaking?” and more often than not, the answer will be, “Uh…no.”  You can’t write a book if you’re not writing anything, and you can’t speak in public if you haven’t developed any material to speak about.   It’s critical to take bold action toward your visions, in order to create success.  Successful people develop huge goals too, but they crush them down into smaller, digestible (but courageous) action steps that they then build on, which leads naturally to the end goal they’re pursuing.

Remaining powerless and speechless

Successful people are in touch with their power, and are not afraid to use it and express it.  They advocate and negotiate strongly for themselves and for others, and for what they care about, and don’t shy away from articulating just how they stand apart from the competition.  They know how they contribute uniquely and the value they bring to the table.   In addition, they don’t wait to bring up concerns – they tackle challenges head on, speaking about them openly, with calm, poise and grace.  They don’t hide from their problems.  And they don’t perceive themselves as hapless victims.

Putting off investing in themselves

I see this behavior over and over in those who feel thwarted and unsuccessful – they are incredibly reluctant to invest time, money and energy in themselves and their own growth.  They are comfortable only when putting other people’s needs ahead of their own.  They’ll make any excuse for why now is NOT the time to invest in themselves or commit to change.  They feel guilt, shame and anxiety over claiming “I’m worth this.”  Successful people don’t wait – they spend money, time and effort on their own growth because they know without doubt it will pay off – for themselves and everyone around them.

Resisting change

Successful people don’t break themselves against what is or drown in the changing tides.  They go with the flow.  They follow the trends, and embrace them.  They are flexible, fluid and nimble.  They react to what’s in front of them, and improvise deftly.   Those who are unsuccessful bemoan what is appearing before them, and stay stuck in the past or in what they “expected,” complaining about how life is not what it should be and why what is feels so wrong.

Honoring other people’s priorities over their own

Successful people know what matters most to them – their priorities, values, concerns, and their mission and purpose.  They don’t float aimlessly on a sea of possibility – they are masters of their own ship and know where they want to head, and make bold moves in the direction of their dreams.  To do this, they are very clear about their top priorities in life and work, and won’t be waylaid by the priorities and values of others.  In short, they have very well-defined boundaries, and know where they end and others begin.  They say “no” to endeavors and behaviors (and thinking) that will push them off track.  They know what they want to create and the legacy they want to leave behind in this lifetime, and honor that each day. (To get clearer on your priorities, values, and desires for the next chapter of your life and work, take my free Career Path Self-Assessment.)

Doubting themselves and their instincts

Those who doubt themselves, lack trust in their own gut or instincts, or second-guess themselves continually find themselves far from where they want to be.  Successful professionals believe in themselves without fail.  Sure, they acknowledge they have “power gaps” or blind spots, and areas that need deep development.  But they forgive themselves for what they don’t know and the mistakes they’ve made, and accept themselves.  They keep going with hope and optimism, knowing that the lessons from these missteps will serve them well in the future.

Searching for handouts and easy answers

I can often tell from the first contact I have with someone if they’ll be likely to succeed in their new entrepreneurial venture and career, or not.  How? By the nature of their expectations, and how they set out to fulfill them.  Here’s an example – if a complete stranger reaches out to me expecting free help without considering what she may offer in return, it’s a bad sign.  Let’s say she asks something like this: “I’m launching my new business and wondered if you can give me some advice. I can’t pay you because I’m a startup, but I hope you can help me anyway.”

From this one email, I know she’s not ready to make it happen in her own business.  Why? Because successful professionals (and those destined to be) wouldn’t consider asking for help in this way.  Instead, they: 1) understand that they have something important and valuable to offer in any situation, 2) are willing and happy to share or barter that in return for what they want, and 3) they treat others exactly as they would like to be treated.

Successful professionals are respectful, resourceful, curious, competent, tenacious, and they figure out how to get the help they need without asking for handouts.  That doesn’t mean they don’t seek assistance when and where they need it , or make use of the many free resources available to them (like Score.org, etc.).  It means that they don’t expect something for nothing.  They treat others equitably and fairly and know they deserve the same.  Successful professionals realize that if they’re not willing to pay for products and services they want, then others won’t be willing to pay them (yes, it works like karma).

They also know that their success is directly proportionate to the effort they put inMost of all, they understand there are no short cuts or easy answers on the road to success.

(For more about achieving greater success in your career, visit Ellia Communications, my free teleclass Breakthrough to Your BOLD Plan for More Happiness, Success and Reward, and my book Breakdown, Breakthrough.)

 

How To Create Your Own Breakthrough

Kathy's Video Blog "Work You Love"

Welcome to Episode #8 of my video blog Work You Love!  I’m happy you’re here!

Ever wondered why, despite all your hard work and efforts, you can’t seem to get a break or move forward as you long to?  There are reasons for it – it’s not random or just coincidence.

This episode explores the critical blocks to creating the success and happiness you want, and also shares 5 key steps to creating your own breakthrough.

If you have the sense that no matter what you’re doing, the needle isn’t moving as it should in your life and work, you won’t want to miss this video.

Here’s my take:


The key steps to creating your own breakthrough are:

1. Do the inner work required to know who you are authentically, and what you really want.

2. Don’t fight against what’s happening – see what your life situation is trying to teach you.

3. Take concrete steps to change how you operate in the world.

4. Release your subconscious blocks to greater wealth, happiness, power, and success.

5. Bring more happiness into your life NOW, regardless of your external conditions.


Today’s top message:

CLICK TO TWEET: Doing the work of becoming MORE in this world is up to you. Realizing who you are is a great place to start – @kathycaprino #WorkYouLove

Thanks for watching, and wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

All Best,
Kathy

 

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