How to Deal with Toxic People: 9 Powerful Tips

Imagine having a family member who is always pessimistic or a friend who gives off negative vibes all the time. Seems heavy on the mind, doesn’t it? But you can’t always ignore toxic people, can you? Whether it’s a boss or a manipulative work colleague, or even a family member, it is not always possible to cut ties. You need to manage conversations and experiences with them intelligently. So, know the signs of negative people and learn how to deal with toxic people.

What causes someone to become a toxic person?

Toxicity in humans can have many different reasons, and it is often a complex interaction of various factors, including personal experiences. It varies from person to person, and sometimes some people can’t help but be toxic because of certain experiences that led them down that path, says psychotherapist, life and business coach The Dr. Chandni Tugnait.

Know the signs of toxic people. Image courtesy: Freepik

Here are some reasons why some people are toxic:

1. Past trauma

People who have experienced some sort of trauma in their past find it difficult to overcome it and accept the loss of life that it brings. Being toxic becomes a coping mechanism and a means of self-preservation so they don’t have to go through the same thing again.

2. Low self-esteem

People with low self-esteem often tend to put others down in order to feel good about themselves. Manipulating others and making them feel inferior compensates for their own feelings of inadequacy and boosts their self-esteem.

3. Personality disorders

People with personality disorders like narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder may engage in toxic behavior that prevents them from establishing healthy relationships, the expert says.

4. Unresolved Issues

People with many unresolved issues turn out to be bitter in life and therefore lash out at others due to their own past unresolved psychological issues, such as unresolved grief, anger, and resentment.

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Signs of Toxic People

There are some common signs and behaviors to watch for when identifying toxic people.

• They make everything about them and conversations tend to come back to them and their problems.
• Nothing is ever their fault. They always blame others and play the victim.
• They invalidate your feelings and tell you that you are wrong for feeling the way you feel.
• They are so emotionally draining that you feel exhausted after interacting with them.
• They are manipulative, using feelings of guilt, lies, and threats to control people.
• They are critical and judgmental. They always find faults in others.
• They lack empathy and cannot understand or share the emotions of others.
• They are passive-aggressive. Instead of communicating their problems in a healthy way, they make snide comments.
• They are unreliable. You can’t count on them to follow through or be there for you.
• They betray your trust, break your trust and use sensitive information against you.

Ways to Deal with Toxic People

Once you have identified toxic people, do the following:

1. Set boundaries

Establish clear boundaries regarding what actions you will and will not tolerate. If they cross the line, quit or apply penalties when boundaries are crossed.

2. Limit contacts

Reduce contact with toxic people by spending less time with them and sharing fewer details about your life. Interact with them only when necessary and do so briefly.

3. Don’t take it personally

Their internal problems are reflected in their toxicity and in their behavior. So don’t take their words and behaviors to heart, suggests Dr. Tugnait.

4. Be assertive

Be energetic and stand up for yourself. Don’t allow them to exploit you, so be assertive when you don’t like something and feel the need to say “no.”

5. Show self-compassion

When toxic people make you feel bad, fight them with self-love and a reminder of your worth. Walk away from their criticism and look at the positive things in life.

6. Make supportive connections

Spend more time with people who are optimistic, kind, and who make you feel good. Stay social, but choose the right people to hang out with.

7. Use strategic empathy

You need to show compassion for their underlying issues, but also avoid tolerating poisonous behavior. Establish compassionate but firm boundaries, says the expert.

toxic colleague at work
Know how to deal with a toxic coworker. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

8. Don’t expect change

You can’t coerce or expect a toxic person to change, so don’t give them their hopes up either. You should only be responsible for your reaction.

9. Avoid any escalation

Avoid escalation by not stooping to their level. When they try to provoke you, just stay calm and composed and don’t respond to their toxic behavior.

Ultimately, it’s about protecting your peace of mind. Do not increase toxicity, instead reduce exposure. You may not want to hurt the other person, especially if they are a friend or family member, but you need to prioritize your mental and emotional health.

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