It is impossible to avoid toxic people all the time, so revealing them is essential. You must know who you are dealing with, and these open-ended questions can help you figure it out. These open-ended questions will require answers that reveal the personality of the person you’re talking to.
It can be hard to recognize a toxic person, but there are small things you can watch for. A toxic person will drag you down and make you feel bad about yourself. They aren’t good to keep around for extended periods, so make sure you’re watching out.
Asking these open-ended questions can begin discussions that help reveal toxicity. You can word them in a way that doesn’t seem critical, too, allowing the conversation to flow freely.
Twenty Open-Ended Questions That Reveal a Toxic Person
If you spot the behaviors of a toxic person, clear up your uncertainty by asking these questions.
If the lessons the person lists have to do with what other people did wrong, it’s a sign of toxicity. However, if they begin to list things that have made them a better person, they probably aren’t toxic.
Another type of answer to watch for is a superficial answer. If the person gives a vague answer that could apply to anyone in any situation, you can assume that they don’t learn from mistakes. Not learning from failures shows that they don’t self-reflect, and they don’t find fault in themselves.
2. What are the things that you notice first about a person?
A positive person will say that they notice someone’s smile or the way they greet someone. They might even say they notice if someone is kind, funny, or any other positive thing. A toxic person, however, will say that they notice superficial things about someone.
A toxic person might say that they notice the shoes someone is wearing, or whether they have on name brand clothes. They might say that they recognize someone’s imperfections or other negative aspects. Any sign of this type of thought process shows a judgmental, toxic person.
3. What other things like this have happened to you?
If someone made an honest mistake and you ask this question, they probably won’t have a good answer. However, if someone makes similar mistakes often, they will have stories for you about them.
This question can help you see patterns of behavior. If someone doesn’t learn from their mistakes and continues making similar ones, it is no longer a mistake. At that point, it has become toxic behavior.
4. Why shouldn’t you do it?
This question can work in a couple of ways. First, toxic people see no fault in their behavior, even though no one is perfect. If the person can’t give you a reason for why they shouldn’t do something, it means that they can’t self-reflect.
A non-toxic person will tell you at least one reason why they shouldn’t do something. It doesn’t mean that they are a negative person, but that they see their weaknesses.
5. Do you think you spend more time talking or listening, and why do you think that is?
A toxic person loves to talk, especially about themselves. If a person says that they prefer to talk rather than listen, it could indicate toxicity. On the other hand, if they spend more time listening, they are likely a positive person to be around.
6. Why do you think that situation didn’t work out?
When a toxic person is asked this question, they will struggle to take responsibility. They will blame other things or people for the reason that the situation didn’t go as planned. If they can’t see the real reason for the failure, they won’t do any better next time.
Someone that isn’t toxic will admit their fault in the situation. Even if something or someone else played a role, the non-toxic person would bring up their role first.
7. What do you think your best qualities are?
When a person talks about their best qualities, it says so much about who they are as a person. First, a superficial person is likely going to be toxic. A positive person, however, will list inner qualities as their best ones.
Additionally, if someone starts to list negative things about themselves instead, it’s a sign of toxicity. Negative qualities shouldn’t come to mind over positive ones. Positive people should know their strengths and weaknesses.
8. What do you like to do on social media?
The things people participate in on social media can tell you if they are toxic or not. Toxic people will seek attention on social media, tell their personal information and everyone else’s. They will likely also post vague or passive-aggressive updates.
On the other hand, someone that isn’t toxic will spend their time on social media differently. If they spend their time on social media sharing positive quotes or liking people’s photos, it shows that they are positive.
9. How do you handle drama in your life?
Knowing the way that someone handles drama can signal whether they are toxic or not. If someone loves drama and says that their life is full of it, it’s a sign of toxicity. People that aren’t toxic, though, will likely say that they avoid drama whenever they can.
10. When was the last time you held a grudge, and what was it about?
Toxic people tend to hold grudges more than others. If you find that someone holds many grudges against a few different people, it is a red flag. It shows that they can’t positively engage with someone that disagrees with their opinion.
When you ask a toxic person this question, they will enjoy going into detail about what the other person did wrong. They won’t acknowledge any role they played in the situation, and they likely won’t say a kind thing.
A toxic person will want to control everyone and everything in their life. Their need to control will result in anger or annoyance when someone disagrees with them. This type of person wants to be in charge of what is going on around them, even if it isn’t right for everyone.
If you ask this question and the person says that they try to convince the other person to change their opinion, it is a red flag. A positive person would accept the differing opinion without a problem.
12. What are some of your best moments in life?
This question opens up a chance for the person to talk about their favorite moments. They can talk about the things that shaped them into who they are or the ones with their favorite people. Someone that isn’t toxic will look for deeper answers.
However, if someone says superficial answers or can’t come up with anything, it is a sign of toxicity. Positive people will have no issue coming up with a few moments that stick out in their minds.
13. When was the last time you said thank you, and what was it about?
If someone can’t say thank you, it shows that they are a toxic person. When you ask someone this question, their answer should be pretty recent. They will likely have a good explanation for what it was about, too, whereas a toxic person might give a vague answer.
14. What did you think about the event?
After watching a show or performance or attending an event, this is a good question to ask. Toxic people will talk negatively about the event, pointing out the things that went wrong. A positive person, however, will talk about things that they loved at the event.
15. How did you handle that situation?
When you ask someone how they handled a situation, their answer can reveal if they are toxic or not. If the person continually blames others for what happened rather than explaining a solution, they are likely toxic.
16. Will you tell me about a time when you were in the wrong?
Positive people should always be able to admit when they are wrong. So, when you ask someone about when they were in the wrong, most people should have a good answer. A toxic person will downplay the situation or say that they can’t think of anything at all.
17. How do you feel about the new rules?
If a policy or regulation changes, asking this question can reveal a toxic person. A toxic person will have complaints, and they won’t say anything positive about the situation. On the other hand, a positive person will have some good things to say, even if they disagree with the rules.
18. What happened between you and them?
If you know someone who has a bad history with someone else, asking what happened can answer your questions. If the person jumps into a long-winded rant about the other person, immediately recalling the drama, it is a red flag.
19. What do you think you should do next?
This question can help you understand the person’s mindset. If their answer is positive and helpful, it’s a sign that they are thinking the situation through. On the other hand, a toxic person will say there is no other option and essentially give up.
20. What was the last thing you helped someone with?
A toxic person won’t want to help others because they are always trying to get the upper hand. They would rather watch someone struggle and miss out than lend a helping hand. Asking this question can help you see if they are that type of person.
Toxic people are everywhere, but if you can identify them, you can handle the situation better. Asking these open-ended questions will help you recognize toxicity every time.
Find the open-ended questions that fit into your situation and conversation. Listen closely to the person’s answer so you can see if they are a toxic person or not.