I am sure each one of us has at least one toxic person in their life that they are forced to encounter with whether they like it or not. If not for that, I would’ve easily asked you to work on getting rid of toxic people from your life as hard as you can. But I know that it is impossible in most cases.
Personally, I have come across a number of toxic people in my life; during school, college, work, and even in my personal life. Based on my experience with them, I can say that dealing with them is one of the toughest things to do in life.
Toxic people have a way of draining your positivity in ways that you may not be completely aware of. They always look for means to make you feel stupid and increase your self-doubt. Even when you have the best idea, they find a way to make it sound so silly and irrational.
These kinds of people tend to defy logic. They find faults in every logical explanation.
Before we go on to learn how to deal with toxic people, I am going to share with you who exactly are those toxic people and what their personality traits are. This way, you will have a better understanding of how to deal with them.
Toxic people’s personality traits
Let us have an understanding of what the personality trait of a toxic person can be.
- Judgmental – They are always open to criticism. All they want to do is gossip about a person’s (or your) actions, words, dress code, etc. They always focus on anything that degrades the person.
- Manipulative – All they want from a person is to get the person to do what they want. They can use people however they want until they get their desires fulfilled.
- Never take responsibility for their feelings – Instead of looking into their emotions and taking responsibility of how they feel, they project those emotions on to you. They hold you responsible for how they feel and fiercely defend their perspective.
- Make you wanna prove yourself to them – They have their way of pulling you back to them and making them and their problems your priority. Every time something happens, you will find yourself trying to prove yourself to them by choosing something they want over what you want.
- Careless and unsupportive – They don’t care about you, your problems, your struggles, or anything related to you. They share no interest in knowing about your life or your goals. With everything you might be going through, they are unsupportive, in fact, they load you with their problems by making you believe that solving their problem can be a great distraction for you when all they want is for you to solve their problem.
Toxic people always play the victim card to earn your sympathy and support. The minute you help them with one problem, you will repeatedly find another one to solve. They want you to feel sorry for them and fix their problems while making you feel responsible for it.
How to deal with toxic people
Now that you have an understanding of who toxic people are, you need to learn how to deal with them.
The tips I will share with you are the different strategies that I personally use when dealing with the toxic people in my life.
One thing to keep in mind though is that it is not a easy dealing with these people but trust me, you will see a lot of difference when you manage your relationship with them.
The 7 different ways to deal with toxic people are:
- You have to set your boundaries on how you act with them.
- Don’t feel the obligation to help them in every situation they face.
- No matter what they say to you, don’t get drawn into their accusations.
- Don’t ever get personal with them regardless of how much information they share about themselves.
- Even if they try to control your actions, you have to show them that you are in control of yourself.
- Show them that you are unavailable by trying to limit your time together.
- If you care about them and you think they are close to you, encourage them to visit a therapist.
Set your boundaries with them
This point goes without saying. You have to set boundaries with the people that you are forced to communicate with that you figured out to be toxic.
The best part about this is that toxic people don’t really like boundaries. They look for every possible way to break boundaries in the name of friendship or their love for you.
When I say you have to set boundaries, I mean that you need to communicate clearly on what you can tolerate and what you can’t. Even though they will not be okay with it and perhaps try to find a way to make you believe that those boundaries are silly and unnecessary, you gotta stick to them no matter what.
For me, I don’t mind a toxic person venting about their life or sharing fabricated stories with me because I truly don’t care about what they are talking about. All I care about is getting through my day with them with limited to no conversation.
However, when it came to gossiping or verbal abuse, I made sure I had a red line visible for them. There were times when the toxic person in front of me tries to engage in a conversation where they gossip about a co-worker or someone we know in common. I truly hated that.
I know that girls love gossip but there is a limit for how much gossip I can take from a normal, nonpoisonous person. When a toxic person gossips, that it another level that I struggle to manage with.
Whenever they try to engage in such conversations with me, I simply refuse by saying, “Listen, I am not interested to know about this. Anyways, I have some work to do now.” and either leave the room or just focus on anything else but them.
Don’t help them in every situation
Like I said above, toxic people have a way to make you feel responsible for their problems. They come to you like they are complaining about their problem and manipulate you into solving them no matter the size of the crisis they are facing.
My intense sympathy towards others caused me a lot during the start of my adulthood. Toxic people could easily take advantage of me and make their problem seem like it is mine because I cared about them. I struggled to help them in every way I can so they can feel better.
But then I noticed that whenever I helped them with a problem, they ended up coming back with another one waiting for me to solve it for them. Damn it was exhausting!
The worst part was that they chose me to do the things that they could easily do to solve their problem because they wanted me to take the risk rather than them taking responsibility and acting on the problem they were facing.
With time, I realized that I was gaining nothing but exhaustion from these people so I decided to do something about it. I listened to them like I usually do but I stopped offering to help. I generally focused on what they were talking about and if it was truly something they needed my help for, I may do it, otherwise, I won’t.
But the disadvantage to this is that the minute you help them (even once), they hold on to that. The try to use a similar tone like the time you helped them and even a fabricated story close to the size of the time you helped them in. So, I decided to stop offering at all.
There were even times when they created a problem just so you could have sympathy and treat them like they were the victim.
Keep in mind that you are in no way obligated to help such people. To avoid having any personal encounters with them, you have to show them that you are no longer going to be part of their pity party.
If they came for advice on what to do, share your opinion and put a full stop to your advice. Don’t give in to any manipulation to make you do what they want. Never offer help to save them from anything.
Don’t get drawn into their accusations
One way for toxic people to get what they want from you is to accuse you of many different things like, you are never there for them, you don’t want to help them because you don’t really care, and many other victim related phrasings.
You may suddenly have the urge to defend yourself and start explaining what you meant and why you did something. But don’t! Because when you drag the conversation, it will always end up you doing what they want. This is why you should always choose your battle with them wisely. Arguing with a toxic person is too exhausting.
You have to stay aware of their tactics and find a technique to rise above their irrational behaviors. If you find yourself in a conversation that may lead to them accusing you of any negative emotion, look for a way out.
One way I found that worked with some of the toxic people in my life is that when they try to accuse me of not carrying about them, I use one of the following. 1) I share the past incidents that I was helpful in to prove them wrong, 2) I stick to sharing the solution with them and ask them to follow it, or 3) I just acknowledge the accusation and find it a reason to make them never to speak to me again.
If they start acting out trying to manipulate me into doing it for them, I just simply say, “No, I won’t do it.” This mostly infuriated them and made them lash out on me but I didn’t really care because they were trying to control me and I didn’t give them the chance to do so…hence, the blame.
So that’s what you need to do. If they try to accuse you of something just to manipulate you, then you can either completely ignore their accusations by stating how you helped them many times in previous situations. Or, you can simply advise them to do what you feel is right and move on with your life.
Don’t ever get personal with them
The worst part of toxic people is that they work on trying to get as personal as possible with a person. They do that by oversharing their personal details or try to engage on gossips that you may be interested in.
This way, they gain your trust and you find yourself bonding with them before you even know it. Then without feeling it, you start getting personal with those people and share your personal details with them.
My personal advice to you is not to get personal with people you know for a short period of time. Even if they seem nice and caring, reciprocate their kindness without having to share any of your personal details. Keeping your conversations general is just always the best option.
Toxic people aim to gain as much information as they can from you at first, so they can use it against you later in getting you to do what they want. Sometimes, they will also use your pain-points to remind you of how the negative feelings you felt during that period of time.
If you are co-workers, then set boundaries on how you want your relationship to be professional. Like for example, if you happen to have a conversation in your lunch break about long-distance relationships, make sure it is a general topic discussion.
Even if the person shared about their encounter with a long-distance relationship, just smile with very limited engagement. If they ask you about your encounter with a long-distance relationship, reply by stating that you want a strictly professional relationship at work and are not interested in sharing anything personal with anyone.
Be ready for a backlash. But don’t care at all. They are just trying to make you feel bad about not satisfying them by not sharing your story. By sharing your workplace rules, you will get them to either avoid you or deal with you based on your rules.
Show them that you are in control of yourself
The problem with people who are manipulated by toxic people is that they are just way too nice. I know this from experience because what caused me to look stupid enough to be controlled is that I was overly nice to people. Toxic people take advantage of kindness.
The minute you show them that you are ‘naturally’ nice but not very lovely and welcoming, they will start treating you differently. They will understand that you are nice by nature but can not be controlled.
However, do you think that they would give up on you just because of what you showed them? No way! In fact, some of them may take this as a challenge and make it their mission to try different strategies to approach you. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
No matter how much they try, show them that you are the one in control of your actions and decisions. The best way to do that is to understand the cycle of their manipulation.
Every action toxic people do with you is part of their plan, which means it is a pattern that they follow to make things work with you. Most times, they start by being all supportive, attentive, and caring until they use all their emotional resources to get you attached to them.
Later, they will start asking favors, and favors will turn into demands. When demands are not attained, they start the manipulation process. You get stuck in this process and find it hard to move out of it. This is how it works.
So the main thing you should be doing is to show them that you are the one in control of everything related to you. Use the understanding of this cycle used by toxic people to set boundaries and limits on how much you can communicate with each other.
Show them that you are unavailable
Another way to deal with toxic people is to change your routine in such a way that you show them you are unavailable to spend time with them. This will slowly fade your relationship with each other.
In order to have a peaceful mind, you need to limit the time you spend with them. If these toxic people are people you meet at work, then try to keep yourself busy at most times to avoid them. This will piss them off for sure but it’s okay. You shouldn’t care about how they respond.
There once was a person I used to work with who was not only toxic but the true meaning of toxicity. She was a co-worker that I worked with in one of the schools I taught. At first, she was one of the sweetest people I met in that school. She was caring and lovable.
But then when we started getting closer to each other, I noticed that all our conversations were about her and how difficult life was for her because of some personal issue that affected her work too. She wanted me to help her get most of her work done for her because of how unfocused she was.
Also, whenever she sits next to me, she starts talking about other colleagues in the school about their personal lives in a very unrespectable and offensive way. I hated listening to her talks and I wanted her stay out of my way and my life so badly, but I was way too nice to do anything about it.
The thing is, we had to collaborate on different parts of our teaching strategies because we were dividing the lessons among us. So I felt like I wouldn’t be able to do anything to push her away. This forced me to have to deal with her.
Luckily, I got shifted to teaching a different class and didn’t have the necessity to deal with her anymore. The worst part was, she always came back to spend time with me.
I always had my notebook and teacher’s edition books in front of me. Whenever she tried to engage with me in a conversation, I showed her that I was busy with preparations and unable to do anything at the moment but work. Sometimes, I would even pretend that I got a phone call that I need to take or even make.
One out of five times I would let her talk to me. I explained how I don’t enjoy gossiping about others at all and to stop such conversations. She tried to stop but habits always die hard. I started pulling myself from our friendship until one day she burst on my face for not letting her spend time with me.
I tried to explain myself to her but I later realized it was not worth it; didn’t want the manipulation process to start. With this she went looking for other victim of her selfishness (and she did find one).
So what you should be doing is always try to find an exit strategy that works with the person you are trying to avoid.
Encourage them to visit a therapist
From the way we spoke about toxic people till now, it is obvious that they have some kind of psychological problem. Their need for attention is just too much to be understanding.
To be fair, every action taken by anyone is right and rational from their perspective. Toxic people surely have problems with their way of dealing with people that some of them might not even be aware of. Yes, believe it or not, some people truly don’t realize that they are toxic to other people.
There are some of them who choose to be this way because of some kind of trauma that took place in their life that we know nothing about. It might be the cause of their toxic actions.
There is one thing you have to always keep in mind. You should also be respectful and never judge anyone no matter what their actions might be. The minute you lose self-respect, you can never gain it because no one will take you seriously. Also, you are in position whatsoever to judge anyone because you don’t know their full story.
If you happen to know their full story because you might be in a close relationship with them, then you will try to look into the best strategy to approach them. Then you will talk to them about their toxic behaviors and point out at what you think is causing those actions.
Yes, they may backfire very harshly on trying to make them look like they are crazy, but try explaining your reason behind your suggestion by showing compassion and full attention. If it is possible, explain to them how their actions are affecting others and what all can change if they found a good therapist to help them for a better change.
Toxic people are the kind of people you should not stick around. If getting rid of them is hard, then you have to find a way to deal with them without having to compromise your own mental health and self-esteem.
But that doesn’t mean you need to be rude with them or disrespect them. If you can’t help them change themselves, then just avoid them as much as you can.
Thank you for reading till the end 🙂
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