Are You Due For a ‘Practice Cleanse’? Who Are the ‘Toxic’ Patients or Employees You Need to Watch Out For?

toxic patients

You know I hate to get all cliche on you, especially when it comes to things that “they say” but, I’m gonna anyway! You may have heard “them” say that “the least of your patients give you the most of your problems” but have you ever used it as an operating principle instead of a hindsight excuse?

A couple of things happened to me recently which made me examine this. A couple were negative and a couple were positive. Fortunately it was the positive that made all the difference. Hindsight may be 20/20 (another dreaded cliche), but that doesn’t get anything done, does it? All it amounts to is an excuse for failure and automatically implies it is much too late to do anything at all. In fact, as an important side note, I have recently discovered the following about all this alleged “hindsight” and made it useful:

Hindsight is NOT 20/20. Foresight has just been much too slow.

That one is mine. And, you can quote me on it!

Back to the subject at hand. What my recent experience actually amounted to was a combination of hindsight AND foresight into something very practical.

It’s time we put all this “hindsight” to use and spot toxic people with foresight. How can we actually learn from our past errors to forsee or predict future stops to our progress toward our goals and dreams?

It’s really quite simple.

It all comes down to setting policies and guidelines regarding these people, all purely from your own observation of them, even if it was too late. For, it is never too late to make a change!

What HAVE you learned in hindsight with regard to toxic people? If you’re like most practice or business owners, you have learned to be more cautious, apprehensive or, in extreme cases, terrified, and act in a much more conservative or even withdrawn fashion. This is NEVER good for anyone pursuing for any goal.

What of toxic people? What are the ins and outs of their behavior? Millions of words and column inches have been dedicated to this. You can find information on it nearly everywhere. Regardless of the thoroughness of its coverage in media however, you have the instinct internally to know all about it. After all, after you have spotted some toxic person, didn’t you have that moment of “I knew it” lingering at the very core of your being? You did, right? So, how do you tap into that before it’s too late?

Recounting examples of toxic people seen from personal experience is key, but learning from others’ experiences can be even more effective. So, how can you learn from these experiences yet not go all conservative on your pursuit of expansion and attainment of goals?

At the start of this article I mentioned that I had a couple of recent experiences, both positive and negative in nature which, combined, had me not only able to move forward, but end up with a tool to ensure the pedal goes closer to the metal while spotting and weeding out the toxicity and getting it out of the road.

My first was an experience with a seemingly close friend of many years. It was someone I held dear to my heart and felt was a worthwhile individual to befriend, support and help, especially when things were not going well for her.

Recently this friend reached out for help. Realize that by “recently” I mean about 3 years ago, a foreshadowing of the travail which was to ensue. Over that time I have dedicated hours of my time per week, every week for the past 3 years. She is a professional and has amazing potential. She has achieved celebrity status and people, colleagues, family, associates, seem to love her. Giving it my all I proceeded to help her peel the layers from what had been covering up her true potential and gave her help to really tap into it and get all these things blocking it pushed to the side. Much of the blockage was from hidden immorality. We made progress in many cases cleaning this up, yet her errors kept coming in to destroy forward progress. Each time we would handle one of these behaviors and get her to change it, she would prosper. But then, she would regress and repeat it to the detriment of all.

Now, I realize we all have a hard time breaking bad habits, but the truly great ones really want to and do change, They reflect and refocus on their goals and do ultimately change rather easily, if reluctantly or even falling back down slightly from time-to-time.

In this case however, I watched as she would not only continually make the same blunders, but to the detriment of others both personal and professional. The net gain was negative and I finally realized I was helping someone not only detsroy her own life, but have enough horsepower to destroy others.

What did it do to me? Well, I finally realized it made me backed off about my own goals and prosperity. And it was one of the turning-points in my own “life detox”. After many years of friendship I finally parted ways with her, and I am better for it. There was an immediate surge of progress and growth time-coincident with this action.

What could I learn from this? Plenty. But how could I really use it?

Recently, I read an interesting article in Entrepreneur magazine about types of toxic people. You can take or leave what is in the article. Honestly I skimmed it and I am certain many will find use for it. What it did for me was get me to stop and take a look. And when I looked, I SAW!

Perhaps one of the most significant experiences had to do with a book I am reading written by a dear friend and colleague Dr Daniel Margolin called Fast Tracking Your Prosperity: 21 Lessons in Professional & Personal Success. In that book, there is a chapter entitled “Does Being Nice Get You Ahead?” which detailed this phenomenon of the toxic person holding you back in practice and in life. This chapter really expanded my view of the situation, well-written as it was in detailing a personal experience the author had.

Strangely enough, in this case, it was more than hitting home for me. It brought a concept of much greater magnitude front and center. That was the experiences of YOU. All the clients, actual and prospective, with whom I have conversed over these last 20 years in the profession, in expressing their practice challenges, difficulties and failures, had detailed some rendition of this exact thing with a bright red tag sticking out (if only visible to me) of some staff member or colleague doing everything to halt and hinder, not foster and stimulate progress.

It was then that I realized not what the problem is, but how to actually learn from it and create a new problem of how to use the information effectively, hence changing the problem from “how to confront the toxic individual” to “how to grow your practice even harder and more purposeful then ever.” So, the thing for you to take away is…

I recommend a two-fold approach. First get educated. Read up on this subject. I recommend you read Fast Tracking Your Prosperity by Dr Margolin. Maybe check out the article in Entrepreneur I referenced. Perhaps best would be to speak with some colleagues and hear real experiences. That would be step one. Do it and do it thoroughly.

Next would be to look at all corners of your life and practice and make a list of people who are suspect. Consider and figure out how to get rid of the ones who, deep down, you know need to go. Do this and you will have your next problem ready an waiting: detoxifying yourself of them and getting yourself moving faster toward your overall goal, or at least back on track figuring out how you’re going to make it happen.

With the toxic out of the road, you will experience a new vitality and a new set of problems, good problems, such as “how am I going to exceed these goals I set which now seem to low, or which these toxic people made seem all but impossible!”

Now go and grow!

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