We’ve all got those people in our lives — those toxic individuals who drag us down with their behavior, their speech or their very presence. They radiate negativity and do everything that they can to demean and discourage you while elevating themselves. You might ask yourself how to deal with toxic people, especially when they do all they can to ingratiate themselves to the people around them.
It can be difficult to remove these people from your life, even if it is the best thing for you. Here are a few strategies for how to deal with toxic people in your life.
1. Learn to Recognize Them
The first step in learning how to deal with toxic people is to learn how to recognize toxic behavior. This might vary from person to person, but in general, toxic people are:
- Master manipulators — they always have to be able to turn a situation to their advantage, no matter how it affects those around them.
- Always the victim — toxic individuals never take responsibility for their actions, even if they are at fault.
- Always right — even when they’re wrong, a toxic person always needs to be right. With that in mind…
- Liars — toxic people use lies to manipulate their environment. They will lie about every aspect of their lives.
Does this sound like anyone who is currently in your life? If so, then you’ve learned how to identify toxic people. So, how can you deal with them?
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2. Be Honest
Toxic people lie. That is an integral part of their personality and part of what makes them so harmful to be around. We’re not talking about white lies. We’ve all told little white lies because we don’t want to tell our best friend that we don’t like their favorite new dress. We’re talking about pathological lying about every aspect of someone’s personality and lives.
You can counter this by being honest and polite. This reaction will likely garner hostility from the toxic individual in your life. They respond angrily when you become a variable that they can’t control. They may even try to manipulate you into lying — don’t let them.
3. Be Firm
We’ve already mentioned how a toxic person will try to manipulate you into changing your behavior to retain their control over you. To counter this, you need to remain firm and in control of your interactions with these people. Stand your ground. It won’t be easy — if they feel like they’re losing their power, they will try just about anything to maintain it.
4. Don’t Be There
One of the biggest parts of being a friend is being there when someone needs you. Unfortunately, being a shoulder to cry on for a toxic individual only steeps you in their negativity. They will use these conversations as a way to drag you down by immersing you in their negative energy.
They can also use it as a way to exert control over you. For example, they might say that you’re the only person that listens and that they wouldn’t be able to manage without you. This goes back to our last point — being firm. Stand your ground and stop being that shoulder to cry on. They’re not actually crying anyway. They’re just using it to keep their control over you.
5. Don’t Normalize
We don’t usually discuss this kind of abusive behavior because it’s not as overt as physical abuse — but it is abuse nonetheless. Ignoring or attempting to explain away someone’s actions doesn’t make them less harmful. It enables the toxic individual to continue their trend of negative behavior. Don’t normalize this kind of behavior, no matter where you encounter it. Abuse is abuse, no matter what form it takes.
6. Be Ready to Escape
When you’re learning how to deal with toxic people, sometimes the hardest thing to learn is when to make your exit. These toxic individuals have no place in your life, but they will do everything that they can to stay there. Have an escape plan for if you encounter toxic individuals in your life and take steps to remove them if you find yourself dealing with one.
It’s not your job, and in many cases it’s not possible, to change a toxic person. Don’t put that weight on your shoulders. Learning how to recognize these people and how to remove them from your lives can help to make you a happier, healthier person in the long run.
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