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In real life you cannot simply ‘unfriend’ someone. Or can you?

In real life you either have to choose a person to stay in your life, or choose for that person to leave. Either way it’s a choice. Some choices are more obvious or easier to make than others, especially if you know what to look for.

Just as there are clear criteria for supportive, healthy, happy and transformative relationships, there are an equal (or greater) number of criteria for toxic, destructive, debilitating and draining connections.

You need to know the difference.

Yes, yes, I know…. you can grow and learn from just about everybody. But the real question is —“What’s the quality of life you truly desire, and will these relationships support that?”

If you’re committed to having a successful and powerful life in which you’re making a difference and having a positive impact, then it’s imperative that your relationships align with those values.

If you’re determined to make life your life difficult, keep yourself distracted from your goals, and maintain an uncomfortable level of stress then, by all means, keep those toxic relationships on board.

Here’s the yardstick I use to measure the health of any given relationship; you may want to develop your own.

Say “Bye-Bye”

  1. Judgmental and Negative No one is safe from his or her scathing words, self-righteous opinions, and demoralizing attitude. No. One.

  2. Refuse To Be Responsible For Their Lives They are victims. It’s someone else’s fault. Always. That includes you.

  3. Immature If you’re older than 12, then you’re too old for gossip, temper tantrums, bullying and jealously.

  4. Poor Boundaries They take advantage of you, rob your time, consistently make unreasonable requests and have ludicrous expectations.

  5. Liars If people lie for you, they will lie to you. Their obsession with ‘looking good’ and ‘avoiding looking bad’ trumps everything else.

Say “Hello”

  1. Authentic and Transparent What you see is what you get, whether they agree with you or not.

  2. Support Your Best And Highest Version Of Yourself They raise the bar, so you can. Their expectations of you are based on the courageous leader within you. They won’t compromise you.

  3. Willing To Ask You The Hard Questions Their respect for you, and loyalty toward you, gives them the permission to make you uncomfortable.

  4. Know How To Say Both “Yes” And “No” Healthy boundaries empower both of you; you can trust that they say what they mean and mean what they say. Stress-free communication.

  5. Have a Growth Mindset They’re wired for forward-thinking, solution-oriented conversations. They are curious, learning-centric and action-focused ambassadors.

Now, since you’re human (and a nice person, of course), you’re naturally going to argue with this list and with yourself about how strictly you ‘should’ adhere to these guidelines.

Chances are you’re going to justify the inclusion of these people in your life by making excuses, telling yourself stories, adjusting your boundaries and otherwise making up a bunch of stuff to let you off the hook from having to say bye-bye to these toxic folks.

Sound familiar?

“I’ve known her for 24 years — I can’t just end the relationship.”

“He’s really lonely; if I leave, who will he have?”

“She’s doing the best she can.”

Listen. You can’t like everybody, and everybody can’t like you. If you meet someone who says, “everyone loves me” then they’re either delusional or inauthentic in which case you need to re-read the Bye-Bye section of this blog.

Here are a few questions that will simplify your relationship decisions:

  1. Am I stressed out when I think of this person?

  2. Can I trust her/him?

  3. Does he see the good in me?

  4. Would she throw me under the bus?

  5. Is her criticism constructive?

  6. Does he make me think bigger about myself, and my purpose in the world?

  7. Does she endlessly point out my flaws?

  8. Would she stand up for me in a room full of critics?

  9. Would I feel conflicted introducing him to business associates?

  10. Would I nominate him for a leadership award?

SUMMARY: Are your friends, family, colleagues and business associates helping or hindering your success? Generally speaking, your no’s will be slow to realize, and your yes’ will come fast. (As in, HELL YES, she’s a winner in my life.)

How do you determine your friends? Acquaintances? Have you ever let go of a relationship and then, later, regretted it? Who has been your most staunch supporter, through thick and thin? For whom have you stood as a “YES!” in a roomful of “NO’s”?

Please share in the comment section below — we’d love to learn from you.

*A version of this article was originally published in Barbara Stanny’s Anthology: Breaking Through — Getting Past the Stuck Points in Your Life

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Are you ready to make a change? Are you willing to put aside and work through your obstacles to reach your potential? Then schedule a 15-minute complimentary call with Nancy on our calendar .

Nancy D. Solomon, MA Psych is the CEO and Founder of The Leadership Incubator where she helps leaders identify, address and resolve people problems before they become profit problems so everyone can focus on what they were hired to do-- INNOVATE AND DRIVE GROWTH.

Known as The Impact Expert, she is a main stage speaker, expert trainer and veteran coach who helps leaders solve key issues related to leadership development, employee engagement, and advancing women.

Nancy has made a difference for such companies as Microsoft, Target, Acura, Westin, Nordstrom & ADP as well as with many passionate individuals.


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