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How to Deal With Toxic People


We’ve probably all experienced toxic individuals – the moaner, the bully, the temper-kid, the negative Nancy. We’ve most likely also all had to get business done with these sorts of people and that’s not easy. For this reason, this week’s post brings you some ideas for how to deal with toxic people so your stress levels are reduced and you can be efficient and productive.

Expectation management

You’ll quickly realize when someone is a toxic individual. From that point on, expect dealing with them to be challenging and factor it into your expectations of what you are going to achieve with them. This will have the effect of giving you a little ‘emotional distance’; that’s to say, some space that will stop you from finding the experience too testing.

With that being said, you should try to avoid pigeon-holing individuals; we all have bad days. If you have someone who is really provoking you, take some time to think why this might be. Are they trying to cover for weaknesses elsewhere? Is there something generally wrong, or are they just toxic?

Emotionally charged

If people are emotionally charged, it’s best to let them complete their sentence - interrupting will not help matters. If you are calm and try and listen for the message, as opposed to hearing the rage you might be able to find a start point for getting things done. For example, after a rant if you say: ‘so, the problem is x and you want me to do y’. This small act of clarity may be all that’s needed to calm things down to the point where you can start something productive.

If things are out of control-aggressive, you will probably only find you need to make that clear, in a suitable and constructive way. A sensible approach would be saying something like, ‘can you repeat that in a calmer way, I did not fully understand’.

The worst thing to do, from the perspective of getting things done, is to meet rage with rage. This will move discussion from the point where you can achieve something to the point where you can’t. While you might feel better for a second, you’ve reduced yourself to their level. Better to avoid an argument all together and come back later of deal with someone different.

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Posted on May 07 2014

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