The friends we have and the company we keep can influence our actions, our emotions, and even our philosophy of life. Medical researchers have proved that positive relationships and socialization with the right kind of people can keep a person in good mental, physical and spiritual health. Conversely, lack of healthy friendships and social support can lead to illness or even premature death. It is therefore important to develop a good Relationship IQ – to seek the company of people who are trustworthy, stable in character, and have a healthy, robust attitude toward life. Cultivating friendships with destructive people is a call to misery, so here’s how to avoid them.
Characteristics of Destructive People
No one in the world is perfect. We come with our own individual quirks and deficiencies. But there are limits beyond which relationships become unhealthy. The sooner we recognize this, the easier it becomes to prevent, avoid, or – if possible – repair dysfunctional relationships.
Some traits stand out as destructive:
- Aggressive behaviour: Such a person always wants to be in a controlling position. He will dominate and manipulate people. He wants authority without accountability. He is stubborn and self-willed and flares up when he can’t have his way. He believes that in order to stay on top, he must demolish opposition and competition.
- Intimidation: This is a bully. He will intimidate through speech and manner and humiliate the other person into subjection.
- Selfishness and self-centeredness: He has his own interests at heart and is unsympathetic to the feelings of others.
- Abuse of power: He exploits his subordinates; is dishonest and deceptive; sexual harassment in the workplace is common; at home, he may subject his wife to physical and emotional abuse.
- Narcissism: He boasts and brags about himself. His inflated sense of importance makes him believe that he is always right. He thrives on flattery and adulation.
- Integrity deficit disorder: He knows what is right but doesn’t do what is right. He is unreliable and cannot be trusted. He is hypercritical and ready to devalue others. Empathy is something he knows nothing about.
- Indecisiveness: Such a person wants others to decide how he should act. He is reactive rather than proactive.
- Chronic grumbling: People or circumstances are always blocking his progress – a sure sign of incompetence.
- Negative view of life: He never takes risks for fear of failure.
How to Steer Clear of Destructive People
- Most people who get into destructive relationships lack self esteem. Learn to love and value yourself so that no one can bully, intimidate, or manipulate you. Make it clear that you will not tolerate aggressive behaviour. Walk away from such a relationship without losing your cool. Reacting in anger will only give the bully satisfaction.
- Never defend or cover up for such people. Expose them.
- Challenge any situation with which you do not agree.
- If your boss is a tyrant and unprincipled, make sure that his orders are in writing or in some verifiable form.
- Walk away from people who whine all the time. They will depress you and colour your view of life. Refuse to take on other people’s anxieties and resentments.
- Avoid gossip mongers.
- Choose your marriage partner wisely. Shun a bully or a person exhibiting destructive behaviour. Your life partner should make you feel good about yourself. There must be honesty, mutual respect and the ability to communicate freely.
A note on happiness
Happiness is the best way to keep destructive people out of your life. Staying in the company of untrustworthy, incompetent, and insecure people would mean an endorsement of such behaviour. Set high standards for yourself and refuse to deviate from them. Surround yourself with healthy friendships and people of integrity.
Do not give away your personal power by subjugating yourself to destructive people. Develop your relational skills.