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4 Types of Toxic People That May Be Undermining Your Path to Success It's easy to stay friends with the same people you've known forever. But what if the people you've had the longest relationships with are actually sabotaging your success and happiness?

By Amy M Chambers

Key Takeaways

  • Surrounding yourself with the right people matters, but it's just as important to identify the wrong people that may be in our corner.
  • Take a look at four types of toxic people you need to remove from your life if you want to be happier and more successful.
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Since becoming a personal and professional coach, I've noticed with increased intensity how much the people we surround ourselves with matter. In his 2005 book, The Success Principles, Jack Canfield quoted motivational speaker Jim Rohn, saying that we're the "average of the top five people" we associate with. I've found this to be incredibly true. The people we spend the most time with influence nearly all our thoughts and values. Essentially, we become a reflection of them.

As we identify the right people, it's equally important that we identify the wrong people. In my recent book, 6 H.A.B.I.T.S. of Powerful People, I identified four types of people that are best avoided. If you want to generate a successful and happy life, avoid associating with the following people.

Related: 7 Toxic People to Avoid When Starting a Business

1. Gossips: If they gossip with you, they'll gossip about you

There's only so much airtime in conversations. When we focus on one topic, we can't focus on another. Each minute you spend discussing other people is a minute you're not spending discussing your own ideas. Often, gossips stay stuck because they're so busy talking about things they can't control (other people) that they don't make time to talk about the things they can control (themselves). When you're with them, you forego opportunities to explore your own visions of the future: things you're passionate about, what you stand for, the life you'd like to create for yourself and how you plan to make an impact in the world.

Psychologist Murray Brown theorized that a two-person emotional system is unstable: under stress, it forms itself into a three-person system or triangle. Gossiping with others can be a way of building a bond with them, which serves as a substitute for bonding over something more meaningful. Sadly, when people learn to build bonds in this way (triangulating: involving a third absent party), it's hard for them to turn it off. It becomes a pattern of behavior, and this habit is hard to break.

Ask yourself how much you're gossiping with friends. Consider how you'd feel if these friends gossiped about you. If you want to feel happier in your friendships, look for new things to discuss besides other people. Talking about your recent challenges, learnings and successes usually feels good. Talking about your future dreams, goals or plans is also quite exciting.

2. Liars: They'd rather save face than face a tough conversation

Honesty is critically important in relationships. People who lie, especially repeatedly, break trust. Relationships built on distrust are extremely unstable. You waste valuable time wondering if what you're being told is the truth, and once again, that time is better spent building bonds of connectedness. It's possible to regain trust when it's gone, but it isn't easy and takes a lot of work.

Healthy relationships are built on trust, not lies. Anyone who feels it's a good idea to deceive you instead of having a tough conversation usually lacks character. If you've lied to anyone recently, consider proactively fessing up. It might not be pleasant, especially in the moment, but telling people the truth feels good and shows your companion that you truly value them and the relationship. It also helps you get right with yourself.

Related: How to Improve Your Relationships — Both Personally and Professionally

3. Dream killers: They don't support your goals

Identifying and manifesting our dreams is hard work. Surrounding ourselves with people who don't believe in us or aren't willing to support us is a surefire way to fail. We can all do nearly anything we want in life, if we have the right level of desire, focus, determination, discipline and preparation. But associating with people who tell us our dreams are silly (especially if it's coming from someone we respect or love) makes it much harder.

In 2014, I decided I wanted to become a runner. Back then, I couldn't even run a 5K. I logged hours of training and in 2015, I completed my first half-marathon. I then decided to run a full marathon. A close friend (whom I greatly admired) told me this feat would be nearly impossible for me: I didn't have the years of experience to achieve such a lofty goal. I almost listened to her. Before I did, I enlisted the advice of a few running acquaintances I'd met in the previous year. These new friends offered an incredible amount of encouragement and helped me recognize how strong and capable I'd become.

I decided to listen to them instead of my close friend and ran my first marathon in early 2016. I now see I was on a slippery slope at that time. Had I listened to my longtime friend instead of my new acquaintances, I might never have run a marathon. Now, I've run 12. I found so much strength in their words. Surrounding myself with the right people at a time of major mental and physical struggle and growth helped me accomplish something remarkable (to me).

Ask yourself if you have any friends who continually tell you that things are out of reach for you. Great friends will support your wildest dreams and cheer you on, not tear you down. After this experience, I decided to only keep friends who encourage my success even when it has nothing to do with their own success.

Related: 8 Toxic Types of People You Should Keep Out of Your Life

4. Post-Its: They put you in sticky situations

No good friend will do this. The best relationships in life are the ones where we feel safe and secure. We feel able to be ourselves. We don't feel unaligned with our core values. Any person who feels comfortable putting you in uncomfortable situations so they can advance a selfish motive isn't a friend. Think about your friends. Do you have any who routinely put you in dangerous or uncomfortable situations that don't result in your growth? Or encourage you to compromise your values? If so, it's time to reevaluate.

Keep these kinds of people out of your life, and I guarantee you'll be happier and more successful. Even though it can be hard to tell a toxic friend goodbye, your life will improve because of it. The discomfort of making the decision and having the conversation is well worth the benefits that come from being choosy about the company you keep.

Amy M Chambers

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Executive Coach, Life Coach, and #1 International Bestselling Author

Amy Chambers spent 21 years in financial services and has 15 years of experience in leadership, leading over 500 people to success. She's the author of the #1 international bestselling book, The 7 V.I.R.T.U.E.S. of Exceptional Leaders. She completed her undergrad at Notre Dame and her MBA at USC.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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