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How to Deal with Toxic People

Amber Murphy

Toxic people can be self-centered, manipulative, judgmental, negative, and controlling. Also, a toxic individual will experience difficulties when managing anger. This kind of destructive behavior will minimize your odds of being happy and productive. Most toxic people are trying to cope with underlying problems, such as addiction, trauma, or unhealthy relationship. The probability of changing this destructive behavior is insignificant. The individual needs to be the one leading the change, not you. The reality is that sometimes you can’t escape a toxic person because they’re family, a coworker, or a longtime friend. Therefore, you should design the right strategies on how to deal with toxic people.

5 Signs of Toxic People

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1. Inability to offer compassion

Not all people grow up in loving households with solid support systems. It can be challenging for some people to show compassion towards others when they’ve never been offered compassion during difficult circumstances. Having a deep understanding that not everyone has the tools to provide the support you need can help you understand that sometimes toxicity isn’t personal.

2. Self-absorption

Over the years, it’s pretty clear that most self-absorbed individuals don’t receive a ton of recognition. Their lack of praise causes them to go to the opposite end of the scale to glorify themselves. If someone is always highlighting how great they are, it’s often due to feeling small from a lack of recognition. Consider offering kind and gentle praise towards people like this, and you’ll eventually see a big ego die down.

3. Deceit and dishonesty

People who often get in trouble telling the truth might be more likely to lie to avoid getting punished. Some people choose dishonesty to avoid hurting people. They may lack the social skills for honesty due to their upbringing or social circumstances.

4. Tendency to create conflicts and unnecessary dramas

Conflicts often arise due to emotional reasons. A confrontation may occur when someone feels unsafe and you’re failing to meet their need for safety. Toxic people can also be more likely to create drama when they feel like outsiders in a group situation. For instance, if you regularly exclude someone and they’re the person creating conflict, it’s possible that you indirectly caused the problem unknowingly. When a dispute arises, the goal should be to look at the basic need that isn’t being met for this person. The problem may be easier to solve when looking at a person’s needs.

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5. Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse from a toxic person can take the form of criticism, blaming, denying, isolating, or even being codependent on another person. It’s essential to draw boundaries and to communicate both your needs to prevent emotional abuse from escalating.

How to Deal with Toxic People

You can’t cut off some toxic people; so, you should consider the right approach to handling difficult people. For instance, if you approach a toxic person as such, they’ll likely continue the same type of behavior since you are not helping them meet their needs. The goal is not to change someone but to help them meet their needs, as that’s all you can do from your side of things. It’s a great idea to develop the right strategy on how to deal with them. Below are some proven ways on how to deal with toxic people.

Focus on Positivity

Being positive will help you avoid irritation and stress from toxic people. Toxic people are often people suffering from difficult circumstances who lack the support and tools they need to overcome their pain. A positive minded-person will have the ability to create a positive environment to help them with their emerging problems or difficult situations. Your mental and emotional health is essential; therefore, you should try your best to avoid negative thoughts and conversations. Focus on being uplifting to them so that they feel supported and heard. You may experience some fatigue after a discussion with them so take breaks from challenging conversations as they arise.

Set Boundaries

Toxic behavior involves the ability to control the situation and other peoples’ opinions. Setting boundaries is a helpful tip that’ll help you prosper in life. Toxic people don’t usually entertain boundaries; therefore, you should be ready to maintain your limits. Setting strict boundaries and limits will act as a personal challenge for toxic people. When setting up limits, you should put your focus on elements you can control. You should avoid investing your effort or time with a toxic person. You should always seek to keep the topics light and interactions brief for your well-being. Doing this is vital because toxic people will be looking for loopholes and blind spots in your conversation. You should set boundaries in place to help you minimize their blame towards you. It would help if you always talked about nice things about others in any given situation to reduce rumor spreading. You can set a timer to help you avoid unhealthy conversations with toxic people so that you have a clear exit for when the chat is over.

Focus on your Needs

Toxic behavior can be damaging and spiteful. Some toxic people will rely on your help to gain emotional stability since it’s what they lack. The art of giving isn’t a bad thing, but you should prioritize your needs if you’re trying to deal with toxic people. It would be best if you didn’t risk your safety or well-being on behalf of a toxic person. You can still be there for someone while ensuring you are also meeting your needs. Healthy relationships need give and take. Prioritizing your needs is essential because you don’t expect anything from a toxic person as they suffer. Your needs are as important as theirs, in a purely equal matter of fact. As you focus on meeting your needs, remember that their pain from unmet needs can also cause toxicity for them. You don’t need to go above and beyond. Keep both of your needs in mind as you heal from the imbalance and trauma in the relationship.

Politely Advise Them About their Toxic Behavior

Toxic people might not realize that they’re affecting other people. Their pain and suffering cause them to live in their thoughts instead of the present world. Therefore, you should design the right approach to help the toxic person understand the reality of the situation. Toxic people will sometimes create dramatic situations, manipulate, and gossip about others out of fear. You should also pick your words carefully because a toxic person tends to play blame games. It can be challenging to realize that the chaos someone caused you is what you’re doing to someone else. An open conversation can help you reveal the impacts and effects of toxic behavior.

Avoid Playing into Toxic Peoples’ Reality

Toxic people aren’t always able to take responsibility for their actions due to survival mode. They may make mistakes and blame other people because they can’t see things clearly. It would help if you didn’t play the victim in any given situation because a toxic person may try to shift the story. You should disagree respectfully to avoid an angry outburst. Using the right approach will help you encourage a problematic person to heal and become their mentor or supporter. Always use a positive mindset when dealing with unhealthy behavior.

Learn How to Say No

It’s hard to turn people down, especially when they’re in pain, but you should have boundaries. A toxic person may try to manipulate you to change your perspective about a situation. Keep in mind that this isn’t always manipulation, though. People view the world from a different perspective and have unique experiences that shape their world. But don’t forget to draw those boundaries by saying no when appropriate. It would help if you learned how to cope with sudden outbursts. People in a state of hypervigilance or fight or flight mode can suddenly overreact to situations due to extreme stress. Being consistent and persistent is critical because it will help you deescalate the problem. Also, saying no and walking away will help you avoid scenes. If you aren’t leaving, avoid the conversation.

Make Yourself Unavailable

Toxic people have enough understanding of who they can take advantage of. They usually avoid people when their tactics fail. Trying to make yourself unavailable will reduce your bond. Therefore, they’ll try to look for someone else. You should design honest excuses, especially if you’re at the workplace. For instance, you can say you have a lot of work, or you’re in a meeting. You may be surprised by outright accusations and passive-aggressive remarks from toxic people. Teach yourself how to ignore negative comments, even if you’re upset. Shifting your focus to positive things will improve your work efficiency.

Design an Exit Strategy

Sometimes you might be stuck in a toxic and unhealthy conversation. Leaving the conversation might create a bad picture of being rude. Therefore, you should come up with a great exit strategy. To exit the conversation politely, you should create reliable go-to lines. For instance, you can say you’re so sorry you can’t chat anymore because you have a busy schedule. An exit strategy will help you save your time and concentrate on productive things. It will also help with caregiver fatigue.

Maintain Calm

It isn’t an easy task to stay calm when dealing with toxic people. It will help if you ground yourself using several strategies: muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, and distracting yourself. Being calm will help you avoid unnecessary drama or scenes. To help you develop a more peaceful mindset, consider following a guided meditation using the Declutter The Mind app. You’ll be able to find a meditation for your every need to help you practice compassion, increase focus, or anything else.

Consult a Therapist

If you’re unable to control a toxic person, you should consult a professional therapist. In most cases, you’ll require a therapist if the toxic person is a close relative who you’re unable to cut off. A therapist will give you helpful and professional tips that’ll give you the courage to control the situation or problem. There are some items you should consider when choosing the right therapist. Some of these things include budget, professionalism, experience, credibility, reputation, and trustworthiness. A pro therapist will offer you judgment-free and compassionate support that suits your situation.

Don’t Get Personal

Toxic behavior involves oversharing personal details and gossip. Besides, a toxic person will use your personal information to provoke you. It would help if you weren’t sharing private information with the toxic person in your life. Being intimate with a person you don’t fully trust can be unhealthy because it may cause emotional issues. Therefore, you should keep your conversation light to avoid oversharing.

Pick Battles Wisely

Critics don’t work well with toxic people. Picking the wrong battles can cause conflicts rather than solutions. Dealing with toxic people isn’t an easy task; therefore, you should consider choosing the right strategies and approaches. Don’t pick a losing battle and decide to stop taking things personally. You should evaluate and analyze your strengths before confronting a toxic person. Use a positive mindset to lower the odds of conflicts or war. Using positivity will help toxic people understand what they’re doing isn’t right.

Distance Yourself From Toxic Behavior

Toxic behavior will drag you down and lower your probability of achieving your set objectives. To deal with a problem, you should identify its leading cause, which is often unmet needs. Desensitizing yourself from harmful actions and words will give you peace of mind. Before distancing yourself from people, analyze and evaluate their value and significance. Distancing yourself from toxic people will help you concentrate on prolific things. A toxic person may upset you if you’re not able to help meet their needs. You can either distance yourself emotionally or physically, depending on the situation at hand.

Utilize your Support System

You have some trustworthy individuals in your life who aren’t toxic. Spend more time with people who make you happy. Minimize contact with toxic people if they devalue you, even if you’re trying your best. Real friends will help you achieve your goals because they’ll ensure you’ve enough support. Your support team will help remind you of how wonderful you are.

Speak Up

Toxic people will do things for personal gain and at the expense of innocent individuals. A toxic person will pass guilt, bully, and belittle you when they’re in pain. Some of these people will do wrong things knowingly, and they’ll back down after being confronted. Avoiding their toxic behavioral territory will shut them down. Confront them using polite language to lower the risks of conflicts and scenes. Choosing kindness can be difficult, but when you remember that most arguments result from unmet needs or long-term pain, it’s easier to provide empathy to a difficult person.


Dealing with toxic people isn’t easy. But before you try to play the us vs. them game with them, try to remember to bring an element of humanity into the relationship. The meanest and most hurtful people are often in a lot of pain that they don’t know how to cope with. Focus on finding out what their unmet need is, being their shining light, and lifting them up when possible. You’d be surprised at how that deescalates a problematic situation.

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