Many of us strive to live our lives with as much kindness and love as possible. However, recognizing and dealing with toxic traits in ourselves and those around us can be a challenging but crucial task.

Things like negativity towards you or others, judgmental behavior, avoidance of responsibility, gaslighting, manipulation and inconsistency are all forms of toxicity that we should train ourselves to recognize.

By knowing the signs, you’ll be able to detect them more quickly and combat them more effectively to maintain healthier relationships and grow personally.

We’ll take a deeper look at how individual character traits contribute to toxicity in everyday life, why it’s best avoided and how to recognize it.

How to Spot the Toxic Traits in Yourself and Others: A Breakdown

Toxic tendencies can be subtle or even unconscious, like passive aggression or microaggression, or they can be more serious, like manipulation or gaslighting. These behaviors lead to mistrust and hatred, so people stay away from their true selves. Here are some more specific traits to look for:

Spotting Toxic Traits in Yourself:


Thinking and acting in a way that is not helpful can cause problems. For example, if we think we are not good enough or always expect the worst, we might miss out on new opportunities. Or if we are afraid of trying new things, we will never improve.

It could also be harboring resentment toward successful people or placing blame for missteps outside of ourselves instead of taking responsibility. Also, we may find it hard to maintain optimism when faced with obstacles and often slip into fits of anger toward people around us.

Being Judgmental

Judging people usually comes from feeling scared or not confident. This creates a place where people criticize each other, and no one feels comfortable expressing their feelings.

This means you are deciding about a person without considering their life experiences or how they see the world. You might do this based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Lacking Responsibility

Taking responsibility for one’s actions is a crucial life skill that not everyone has mastered yet, but it’s never too late to learn. If you do not take responsibility, it means you are not accountable for anything bad that happens. This will lead to making bad decisions in the future. You will also have a low opinion of yourself because you did not choose what happened.

Spotting Toxic Traits in Others:


It is a manipulative tactic used by individuals to enact power and control over another person. This involves making the other person doubt their sense of reality, sanity, and self-worth.

Some people always try to make others feel bad or wrong. They do this by not agreeing with ideas or feelings, making the other person blame themselves, or by lying. Sometimes they do this more subtly by pretending something did not happen, changing the topic when asked about it, or making up stories that never happened.


A manipulation is a subtle form of coercion used to get someone to do something they don’t want to do. You can watch out for some signs that might mean someone has a toxic personality. These include making someone feel guilty to try to get them to do something or emotionally blackmailing them.

Another sign is playing the victim card, which means making themselves seem like they are always the victim in every situation. Or using intense pressure tactics means trying to make someone do something by putting a lot of pressure on them.


It means that you say one thing but do something different. This is not being consistent with what you say and what you do. To spot this toxic trait in yourself and others, pay close attention to how people say things versus how those things play out in real life.

Look at whether the person’s actions match their words. If they are not acting the same as they are talking, it could mean they are inconsistent. This could lead to distrust if it is not fixed.

How Do I Fix My Toxic Traits?

Now you have identified some of the toxic traits that you may have, it’s time to look at ways to improve your behavior.

Recognizing Negative Thoughts and Feelings

To spot the toxic traits in yourself or others, it is essential to identify the negative thoughts and feelings that may be present. It’s important to pay attention to how you talk to yourself and others around you, as this can clarify what toxic traits are present.

Paying attention to the language used can help determine if there are signs of self-blame, criticism, or judgmental thoughts indicative of a negative mindset.

Also, how a person behaves during conversations or interactions can show us if they might be toxic. For example, do they try to control everything? Do they not listen to other people’s opinions? Are their responses rude or mean? All of these behaviors may mean that the person has some toxic traits.

Identifying Unhelpful Judgments

Toxic traits often involve making quick assumptions about someone without fully understanding their situation or story. This happens when people make decisions about others based on their appearance, how much money they have, or if they are boys or girls. They do not bother to understand why that person behaves a certain way.

Also, it is essential to look out for judgments based on “shoulders.” This type of thinking can indicate a fixed mindset, often associated with toxicity.

Becoming Aware of Patterns of Avoidance and Denial

There are many ways that people avoid and deny what is happening. For example, people might put off doing something they don’t want to, pretend things are not happening when they are, make excuses instead of taking responsibility, or stay away from difficult conversations.

These behaviors indicate that there might be some underlying issues that need addressing before progress can be made toward positive change.

Other Tips

It is important to apologize when you have done something wrong. You should also check in with yourself regularly to see how you are doing. Be open to hearing feedback from others, and try to work through any past trauma that might be affecting you. Respecting other people’s boundaries and looking for opportunities to show compassion are also essential.

How Do You Deal With Toxic People?

  • One of the best ways to deal with toxic people is to recognize and understand their behavior. This is important because it helps you figure out how to address the issue helpfully.
  • It is helpful to remain assertive while establishing clear boundaries when dealing with someone exhibiting toxic traits. Knowing your values and priorities will help you stay on track when dealing with a toxic person.
  • And it also can be beneficial to seek support from a trusted friend or family member if you feel overwhelmed or confused. This will provide a safe space for reflection and discussing how best to handle the situation.

Is Toxic Trait a Red Flag?

Toxic traits can be considered red flags when evaluating relationships, whether they are romantic, professional, or even platonic. Most often, these red flags come from narcissistic or aggressive behavior, such as belittling others or becoming easily offended by criticism.

Victimization tactics such as blaming others for one’s own mistakes may also be an indicator that something is not quite right within the relationship dynamic.

You should always pay attention to any red flags that come up when you are talking to people. If you can identify these traits, it can help us have better conversations about our feelings and experiences. This will lead to healthier relationships overall.

Recognizing & Addressing Toxic Behaviors

Understanding what constitutes toxic behavior is essential for developing healthier relationships with ourselves and others. It’s important to remember that nobody is perfect. Even the most seemingly confident person can struggle with different kinds of toxic traits that they need help addressing.

By being mindful of these behaviors in ourselves and others, we can create more meaningful relationships based on mutual respect and trust. So, recognize your own toxic traits and those of others, and address them so you can make positive changes.

Terry Taylor, MA MCC has been coaching and consulting since 1991. Click this link to contact Terry and see if her services are right for you.