Toxic people can be found in any area of your life and business. But just because you’re collaborating with that toxic business partner or living with your toxic spouse doesn’t mean you have to accept their toxicity. You can learn how to handle these toxic people so that you limit the effects they have on your life and business.
Set firm boundaries.
Boundaries allow you to function at your best in both business and life. It can be hard to set them and even harder to stick with them, but boundaries are a necessity when you’re dealing with toxic people.
Maybe you have that client that wants to stay in constant communication with you—even during the wee hours of the morning. This is where setting boundaries can be helpful. Let your client know (in writing) what your office hours are and when he can expect a response from you.
Control the conversation.
You can’t always avoid toxic people. Sometimes, they’re a part of your life whether you want them to be or not. If you have to interact with a toxic person, try to stay in control of the conversation.
When the conversation takes a bad turn, redirect it. For example, if your friend always complains every time you have lunch together, then you don’t want to offer advice or a solution to the problem. Instead, validate her complaints by saying something supportive and then redirect the conversation to another topic.
Don’t give anything away.
In some situations, a toxic person may say or do certain things to provoke a reaction from you. Toxic people rely on pushing your buttons to get the results they want. If you don’t give a reaction, they think the button is broken and eventually move on.
Once you start doing this, you must do it every time. If it takes a toxic person saying something obnoxious ten times to get a reaction from you, then the next time they want that reaction they’ll push your button ten times in a row.
Toxic clients or friends will try to escalate common everyday situations. They’ll escalate the incident until it’s a drama so big it’s worthy of a theater audience. Doing this makes the toxic person feel validated and they may use this as their typical response to problems in your relationship.
Fortunately, you can prevent dramas like this by refusing to engage. If the toxic person in your life says or does something annoying, try a neutral response like, “Sounds interesting” or “I hear you”. Responses like this make it harder for the toxic person to cause a big scene.
Handling toxic people in your life and your business is tough. That’s why it can be helpful to roleplay a conversation or scene with a trusted friend. Let your trusted friend act like the toxic person while you practice keeping your cool and de-escalating the situation.
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