Some People are Toxic Avoid Them

“You can only work for people you like…

Some people are toxic avoid them. This is a subtext [to working for people you like]. There was in the sixties a man named Fritz Perls who was a gestalt therapist. gestalt therapy derives from art history, it proposes you must understand the ‘whole’ before you can understand the details. What you have to look at is the entire culture, the entire family and community and so on. Perls proposed that in all relationships people could be either toxic or nourishing towards one another. It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. it doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energized or less energized. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. if you are more tired then you have been poisoned. if you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and i suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.”

-Milton Glaser, “Ten Things I’ve Learned.” Milton Glaser.com.

See also Hoodoos, Sucking Black Holes, Psychic Vampires, and The Unhappy & The Unlucky. The lesson in all of these is to be very careful about who you spend your time with.

Sucking Black Holes

“Avoid sucking black holes of negativity in your newsroom and your writing life. They will bring you down with them…

…”There will be some people in every newsroom who create a whirling vortex of negativity,” she told her students.

“They spend their time and energy (and yours) complaining, criticizing, blaming and spitting bile. Avoid them at all costs. Their cynical aura may at first seem seductive. But don’t be fooled. They will suck the life and energy out of you—like vampires. Stand back. Be warned. Run for your life. They are vampires. And once they suck you into their dark world, you become one, too. Twenty years from now, you’ll still be sitting in the corner of the same newsroom, spitting bile and looking for your own new recruits.”

—Christine Martin quoted in Chip Scanlon, “#15 A Page a Day, The Iceberg Theory of Writing, John Branch on Believing In What You Write, The Loneliness of Writing.” Chip in Your Inbox. January 3, 2020.

See also Hoodoos and Psychic Vampires.

Harbringers of Failure

“…there exist ‘harbinger customers’ who systematically purchase new products that fail (and are discontinued by retailers). This article extends this result in two ways. First, the findings document the existence of ‘harbinger zip codes.’ If households in these zip codes adopt a new product, this is a signal that the new product will fail. Second, a series of comparisons reveal that households in harbinger zip codes make other decisions that differ from other households. The first comparison identifies harbinger zip codes using purchases from one retailer and then evaluates purchases at a different retailer. Households in harbinger zip codes purchase products from the second retailer that other households are less likely to purchase.The analysis next compares donations to congressional election candidates; households in harbinger zip codes donate to different candidates than households in neighboring zip codes, and they donate to candidates who are less likely to win. House prices in harbinger zip codes also increase at slower rates than in neighboring zip codes.”

-Duncan I. Simester, “The Surprising Breadth of Harbingers of Failure.” Journal of Marketing Research. September 29, 2019.

Some people are simply born to lose. See also Hoodoos. Avoid such people.

Hoodoos

…the hoodoo. There are certain people you meet in life who are like the locomotives that always used to blow up—people who, wherever they go, disaster always ensues. One of my main pieces of advice is: Stay away from hoodoos. Sometimes hoodoos are very affectionate and they like to hug you, and I always burn my shirt right after being touched by a hoodoo.

How do you know a hoodoo when you see one?

First of all, a lot of them frequent areas that are ephemeral. Many waterfront communities are peopled by hoodoos. And they generally have a string of failures behind them, they generally are in need of capital, they generally talk a better game than they play. And they often flatter you and pretend to be your amiable friend before they know you. Hoodoos are very good at what they do. A lot of times they command the center of attention and they try to dazzle you with the trappings of success—which when you look into it you will find is a will o’ the wisp.”

—Kathryn Shultz, “Hoodoos, Hedge Funds, and Alibis: Victor Niederhoffer on Being Wrong.” Slate. June 21, 2010.