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I'm smiling because you've finally driven me insane

Ever feel that way? Your workplace probably has a few difficult people.

There are two kinds of people in the world according to Sidney Simon, author of ‘Negative Criticism’. He says there are "toxic" people and "nourishing" people. One of the secrets to happiness and success is limiting your exposure to the toxic people while expanding your time with the nourishing ones.

1. Who are the toxic people?
They can be egotistical, critical, complaining or cruel. Be careful of these types. They lower your self-esteem and zap your energy. You will burn out faster if you spend too much time with them.

2. What do you do if you're stuck with toxic people?

It would be nice if you could turn toxic people into nourishing people. Sometimes you can't. And if that’s the case, then pull away. Practice creative neglect.

For example, you may have a coworker who goes on and on about how poorly she feels. She's asked for your advice, which you've given, but she pays no attention. Pull away when she launches into her health problems. Wish her well and excuse yourself. Or change the subject. Find creative ways to neglect that topic -- which has become nothing more than an immature attention-getting device.

3. Who are the nourishing people?
Find them because they literally add years to your life. Edward Hallowell documented it in his book 'Connect'. In a 10-year study of women with breast cancer, two groups of women were given the same exact treatments ... with one exception. One of the groups met for 90 minutes once a month in a support-group setting where they would engage in lots of open, honest communication about their situation. The women in that group lived twice as long.

According to Simon, nourishing people have several characteristics.
* They always have something nice to say about you ... no matter what you wear, how you look, or what you do.
* They make it safe for you to ask any question or share any feeling. They don't beat you up for being yourself.
* They allow you to be fragile when times are tough ... never taking advantage of you when you're down.
* They challenge you intellectually. They help you think of new and better ways to handle situations.
* They are tender and gentle, giving you lots of validation and a limited amount of criticism.
* They bring fun and laughter into your life.
* They walk in when everyone else walks out.

Action: Figure out one thing you can do to pull away from a toxic person and one thing you can do to spend more time with a nourishing person.

Condensed, edited and reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman's 'Tuesday Tip.' As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Zimmerman has worked with more than a million people, helping them become more effective communicators on and off the job. To receive a free subscription to his 'Tuesday Tip' articles, go to http://www.DrZimmerman.com. Or contact him at 20550 Lake Ridge Drive, Prior Lake, MN 55372.


Seems to me I am sometimes noxious and sometimes nourishing. The trick I recommend to friends is to ask for nourishment. This works, sometimes.

I guess the point is that with some people I can make a conscious choice to turn on their nourishing personality, if I can just find the switch.