Toxic people are an unfortunate fact of life.
Whether you encounter them at work or in your personal life, the effects are the same; they leave you feeling depleted, depressed, angry, or simply stressed out.
Toxic people contribute nothing but negativity to a conversation, and they often manipulate others for their own gain.
Luckily, you can choose to engage with toxic people in a healthy way that limits their effects.
These 7 strategies will help you deal with negative individuals:
1. Set boundaries
Boundaries are your best weapon against toxic people.
You can’t change their behavior, but you can impose consequences when someone treats you with disrespect.
Make it clear that you expect to be treated with courtesy, state what will happened if someone violates your boundaries, and always follow through.
For instance, if you have a toxic family member who texts you late in the evening and becomes offended if you don’t reply until the following morning, it is perfectly appropriate to say, “I don’t read or reply to texts after dinner, unless it’s an emergency.
If you keep sending me messages late at night, I’ll stop replying to them, period.”
2. Pick your battles, and don’t give in to your emotions
Sometimes, you have no choice but to negotiate with toxic people.
For example, if you work with a toxic individual, you may need to work with them to plan a project.
Reacting to every instance of unhelpful behavior won’t work in your favor; it will just leave you drained.
Instead, ask yourself whether an issue is really crucial or not, and act accordingly.
Remember, you don’t have to express your anger or stress, or try to explain why they have upset you.
Teach yourself how to cope with difficult feelings; this is more empowering than trying to reform someone else.
3. Forgive toxic people, but never forget what they have done
Bearing a grudge will only drag you down.
As the old saying goes, holding onto resentment is like drinking poison whilst hoping the other person gets sick.
A more emotionally intelligent approach is to forgive a toxic person’s actions, whilst remembering what their behavior tells you about their personality.
4. Don’t enable complainers
Life isn’t perfect, and no one can be cheerful all the time.
We are all entitled to moan about our problems occasionally.
However, some people seem to enjoy complaining on a daily or even hourly, lowering the mood of everyone around them in the process.
If you indulge this kind of person, they will suck up your time and use you as an emotional punch bag.
Instead, briefly express your sympathy before asking, “So, how do you think you’ll fix this problem?”
or “That sounds tough, what are you going to do next?”
If they refuse to give a constructive response, it’s time to remove yourself from the conversation.
5. Validate yourself, instead of depending on the opinions of others for your self-esteem
If you look to toxic people for approval, you are setting yourself up to be disappointed.
Negative individuals rarely make constructive comments, they seldom have healthy relationships, and they aren’t reliable sources of validation.
A good way to protect yourself against their toxicity is to learn how to love and emotionally support yourself instead.
This puts you in a position to cut them out of your life, because you will no longer be psychologically dependent on them.
6. Maintain a healthy, low-stress lifestyle
Eating well, getting enough rest, and exercising regularly will help you stay emotionally healthy and grounded.
You will find it easier to identify toxic people, and your positive energy will repel them; these individuals tend to prey on those they sense are psychologically or physically vulnerable.
7. Don’t tell toxic people anything confidential about yourself or another person
However sympathetic they may appear, it’s unwise to tell a toxic person any sensitive information.
There’s a good chance they will turn against you at a later date, and then you will be in a precarious position, because they will be able to use your secrets against you.
Toxic people also have a tendency to gossip and cause drama.
It’s best to always speak well of everyone when in the presence of a toxic person, because this gives them less ammunition.
You’ll slip up sometimes, and that’s OK
It’s difficult to defend yourself against negative people.
Some days, you might find yourself getting sucked into their drama.
You’re only human.
With practice, you’ll master the art of protecting your precious energy from people who drain it.