Tools for Managing Toxic People

Tools for Managing Toxic People

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Do you ever find yourself around someone who constantly makes you feel drained, ashamed, and emotionally exhausted? Does someone in your life constantly seem to be at the center of drama, leaving you to constantly care for them? If these scenarios sound familiar to you, you're probably engaged in a relationship with a toxic person. Though relationships with a toxic intimate partner may warrant a breakup, other toxic relationships can be more difficult to avoid. A toxic coworker, parent, sibling, or employer, for instance, may be someone you need to maintain a relationship with despite their behavior.


Though you cannot detoxify these relationships on your own, certain strategies may be used to manage your encounters with these individuals. The next time you encounter a toxic person in your life, try employing these strategies to make these frustrating interactions a little less wearing.


Rely on Reason, Not Emotion


Toxic relationships often involve irrational behavior. Though it's easy to be sucked into these mind games, you should try your best to rise above them. If you feel yourself becoming upset at a toxic person's crazy accusations or illogical behavior, take some time to distance yourself from the situation so that you can cool down. When you've had the chance to fully evaluate the situation, come back to it and respond to the facts. If the drama continues, feel free to end the conversation. By sticking to logic and picking the battles you wish to fight, you can save yourself from some of the frayed nerves caused by these histrionic arguments.


Don't Encourage Their Negativity


Toxic people often dump their problems on others. These individuals constantly complain without actively focusing on change and practical solutions. You may find yourself listening to these friends and family members, offering your condolences while simultaneously getting frustrated with their "pity party" attitudes.


Instead of spending hours listening to these tales of woe, start setting boundaries with these complainers. Offer practical advice and suggestions for resolving problems. If the complainer shows no intention of fixing the situation, it's often best to end the conversation and distance yourself from the spiral of negativity. Either the complainer will fix things on their own or they won't. By removing yourself from the situation, however, you'll spare yourself from being dragged down by feelings of hopelessness and negativity.


Nurture and Maintain Your Self-Worth


Your self-esteem can take a serious hit when you interact with toxic individuals on a regular basis. Toxic people often make snide, cutting remarks that may hit a little too close to home. Though it's far easier said than done, try your hardest to maintain a sense of self-acceptance despite these hurtful criticisms. Remember, toxic individuals often have a worldview that is warped and exceedingly critical. Instead of allowing the words of others to define you, look inward and remember your value as an individual. The negative words of toxic people shouldn't become a part of your own inner monologue.


Look for a Second Opinion


Although frequently interacting with a toxic person may leave you feeling crazy, this is rarely true. If your interactions with a particular person are leaving you feeling frustrated and disappointed, it may be time to ask an unbiased friend or family member for a second opinion on the matter. Consider explaining the situation to your confidante and asking for their advice. You just might receive some enlightening counsel that changes your perspective on these toxic interactions. You'll likely discover that you're not the only one struggling with unhealthy relationships, too.


Establish and Protect Your Boundaries


Perhaps the most frustrating behavior of toxic individuals is their nearly universal inability to respect others' personal boundaries. Though living or working with someone may make it difficult to establish healthy boundaries, doing so isn't impossible. Limiting the time you spend interacting with someone one-on-one is one of the most straightforward ways of avoiding drama with a toxic individual. When this isn't possible, work on expressing yourself in a kind yet unyielding manner. If someone continues to disrespect your boundaries by acting in unacceptable ways or discussing topics that you've established are off-limits, feel free to end the conversation, hang up the phone, or walk away.


Ultimately, you are in charge of your interactions with toxic individuals. If you can't avoid certain toxic people in your life, set up firm boundaries to prevent yourself from being sucked into unnecessary drama and psychological mind games. By doing so, you can maintain your energy, your sanity, and your well-being.



Foto: © scott griesel /


Editor, 11/10/2016