Tag Archives: women at work

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


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


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:

I hope that’s helpful!

Enjoy your week, and wishing you many happy breakthroughs.


How Carving Out Time For What Matters Most To You Changes Your Life

Kathy at UN Women for Peace March

Kathy at UN Women for Peace March to end violence against women

I’m sure that you, like me, struggle each day to juggle your important conflicting priorities. From dedicating precious time to family and friends, to doing your work well,  to focusing on your health and well-being, to using your creativity, to helping others, to getting enough sleep – there are an unlimited number of important areas in our lives that we attend to daily.  But amidst all of this, are you dedicating time for the things that matter MOST – that make you feel alive, inspired and ready to be more?

In my coaching work with women, we speak daily about the importance of identifying your highest priorities, and honoring them. But in reality – DOING this is far more challenging than talking about doing it.  But when we do – when we say YES! to making the time to pursue what matters most to us – it dramatically changes the shape and direction of our lives for the better.

I had an experience of this yesterday – a deeply humbling, inspiring and moving day that made me realize suddenly that I want to do and be so much more.

I was invited to attend the U.N. Women for Peace annual awards luncheon, and then join a hundred others in a march in NYC to support ending violence against women.  As a person in the media, I’m grateful to receive many invitations to exciting events, and I have to turn many down each month.  But when I learned of this event, in honor of International Women’s Day, something inside me knew I had to make the trip to New York City, and participate.  I had a feeling it would be a game-changer for me, and it was.

I listened with awe and humility as I learned more about the UN Women for Peace (UNWFP).  Founded in 2008, under the patronage of H.E. Mrs. Ban Soon-taek, UNWFP promotes and advances the goals of UN agencies whose missions are to provide opportunities for women through social, cultural, educational and empowerment programs while partaking in a global peace building process. UNWFP focuses on supporting and funding UN humanitarian programs for women in developing countries and countries in conflict, and by providing scholarships to benefit underprivileged women to study at the University for Peace in Costa Rica.

UN Women for Peace also supports the UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Women. The Trust Fund, established by the UN General Assembly in 1996, assists efforts to prevent violence against women and girls, provides services to those affected by violence and strengthens the implementation of laws and policies on violence against women and girls. The Trust Fund is particularly concerned with ending violence against women in developing countries and countries in conflict. The Trust Fund invests, through its partners, in long term solutions for a world free of violence. UN Women for Peace’s contributions to the Trust Fund directly fund these efforts.

During the awards luncheon, we heard from Trudie Styler -  winner of the 2014 UN Women for Peace Humanitarian Award – speak of her important work for the environment and human rights, through her role as UNICEF Ambassador, her fundraising efforts and documentary film work, and through her and her husband Sting’s Rainforest Fund, an organization devoted to protecting rainforests and their indigenous peoples.  We heard too from Dina Powell, representing Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative, the 2014 UNWFP Achievement Award winner. 10,000 Women is a five-year, $100 million global initiative to help grow local economies and bring about greater shared prosperity by providing 10,000 underserved women entrepreneurs with a business and management education, access to mentors and networks and links to capital.

I share this experience with you because it was deeply inspiring to me, and it spurred me to want to figure out “how can I help in a deeper way?” In that three-hour experience, I met scores of women who are 100 steps ahead of me in how they are using their talents, gifts and passions to make an enormous difference in the world.  They aren’t wasting time – they’ve figured out exactly what matters most to them, and they’re putting their time, money, energy, passion and commitment into to it, full-throttle.  No excuses, no doubts, no confusion, no waffling – they are clear, focused, and passionate about their causes.  As Trudie Styler has so aptly shared, “If I’m connected to an idea, it just doesn’t let me go.”

I left with new resolve to find new ways to help women globally – not just those in the U.S. and abroad who want better careers and lives, but those who don’t have the advantages we have, who desperately need a supporting hand and beacon of light to help them build new lives for their children, their families and their communities.  I’m ready to do more.

Are you?

Do you know what matters most to you, and are you carving out time in your life to pour yourself into those issues and endeavors that make you feel most alive? My dear friend Charles Decker wrote on my Facebook page – “People find time for things that matter to them.”  I love this idea, but sadly, in reality, I see every day that it’s not the case.  So often, we stay stuck in our small worlds and our small spheres of influence, thinking we can’t do more.

In honor of International Women’s Day, I hope you’ll take today to stop your normal routine, step out of your box, and stretch yourself into new endeavors and causes that help remind you of why are on this planet, today.

Are you ready to carve out time and energy for what you care about deeply?

(For more about UN Women for Peace, visit

 (To learn more about building a career that makes you feel alive and of great use in the world, visit The Amazing Career Project, Ellia Communications and Breakdown, Breakthrough.)

Let Go of What You Hate To Make Room For What You Love

Kathy's Video Blog "Work You Love"

Welcome to Episode 11 of Work You Love!

Today, I’d like to share about the idea that, in order to build a successful, rewarding career we love, we have to proactively move away from doing work that drains and demoralizes us.

How do we let go of what we hate, and what kind of outcomes are possible when we do?

Check out the video below for answers to that, and for a recent true story from my own life of how letting go of work I didn’t like created the space, opportunity, and energy for work I love:


The key takeaways from today’s video are:

1. Determine what you want to let go of, specifically.

2. Identify what you want to do more of – what you love.

3. Commit yourself to creating new opportunities to do what you love.

4. Be open – don’t overly-attach to what it has to look like.

For more information on letting go, check out my Forbes post Why Letting Go Of What You Hate Is Essential To Building a Career You Love.

Here’s a tweetable for you:

If your plate is overly full with work you hate, you’ll never do work you love.  Be brave; let go. @kathycaprino

Click to tweet:

See you next time!

What work are you ready to move away from?


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:

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



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