Psychiatrist and business consultant and best-selling author Mark Goulston, MD (www.markgoulston.com) recently sent me a pre-press copy of his new book, Just Listen, looking for my feedback. His advice about how to get through to hard-to-reach people was very powerful, but what really caught my eye was chapter 11, "Steer Clear of Toxic People." Mark really nails it when he explains how dangerous it is to spend time with people who don't want to make your life better, but instead work to bring you down -- they con you, bully you, make you the scapegoat for their mistakes, are overly needy and don't give back. No matter how painful the process, giving yourself a "jerkectomy" (Mark's term, and I love it!) is critical to living the life you want. Look for an interview with Mark in an upcoming issue of Bottom Line/Personal explaining how to identify toxic people, and how to separate yourself from them.