4 Ways to Deal With Toxic People Effectively

It would be nice if we could 100% eliminate negativity from our lives with the wave of a magic wand.  However, we will probably retain at least a few toxic people in our lives, regardless of how positive we may be. 

Negative people can crop up as neighbors, friends, coworkers or family members.  Even though they drag you down, you still may want to keep them in your life (or feel you need to).  That’s ok!  With some simple adjustments you can make it easier to spend time with these people in your life.

Here are four ways to deal with toxic people effectively. 

1. Limit your exposure

Though you may feel obligated to call or visit a negative person in your life, you certainly aren’t required to call or visit all of the time!  Feel free to reduce the number of interactions you have with the toxic people in your life.

You are able to keep the people in your life at arm’s length, and sometimes that’s what’s best for your sanity and your relationships.  Some people are best dealt with in small doses.

2. Keep it light

Toxic people love to talk about arguments, problems, gossip, health issues and tragedies.  Be mindful of the topics you bring up when you are hanging around a negative person. 

For example, if you know your friend has been fighting with her sister, a question like “How’s your sister?” will likely turn into a thirty minute gripe session. 

A conversation like this can really drag you down.

For this reason, try to keep it light.  Talk about the things that are going well for you and the other person.  Ask about their passions or interests, or discuss positive news and events. 

Steer the conversation away from the doom and gloom.  This will help reduce the amount of complaining and gossiping you are exposed to.

3. Take breaks

When you are spending time with a negative person, it can be helpful to step away for a minute and do a little deep breathing, especially when you feel the negativity start to wear on you. 

Excuse yourself for a minute and step outside, take a bathroom break or leave to run a quick errand.  Take a moment to get your vibe back on track before returning.

Taking frequent breaks can help keep you centered and can neutralize some of the effects of hanging around a negative person. 

4. Call it a day

When you’ve had your fill of negativity, it’s ok to call it a day and hang up the phone or leave.  This can be done in a polite way, without offending anyone.

 “I’m really tired so I think I’m going to turn in,” “I have to pick up the kids,” or “I’ve got to get back to work” are all statements you can use to conclude a visit or conversation and step away from a negative person in your life.

Remember, your sanity is important.  When interactions have become too stressful, you do a disservice to yourself (and everyone else-including the toxic people!) by sticking around and absorbing more negativity. 

I hope you find these strategies useful in dealing with the toxic people in your life.  Do you have any other tips for dealing with negativity?  Comment below and let me know!

Thanks for reading,

Andrea

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2 Comments

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    dee
    Posted July 18, 2015 3:39 pm 0Likes

    Hello, I really enjoy reading your blogs. I am having a situation that I’m really hoping you might help me with. I have a sister who, although I love her very much, was estranged from her for about 4 years. I reconnected with her after I had some very major health problems in the last year. Things are great with me now, which is one of the reasons that I reconnected with her again. My sister must constantly have attention, and she is very needy, and negative. When there’s a rainbow, she sees the cloud. My daughter and I took her on a mini vacation to “get away and take a break” from the stress. She complained the whole time. If you say something positive or change the subject, she will counter with more negativity. She calls at LEAST once a week. I can’t take any more and don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I dread every phone call. It’s going to be more of the same. Advice doesn’t work, just listening doesn’t work unless you want to hear it for an eternity,nothing works. When I try to be firm, she starts acting like a victim and asking why I’m mad at her, and then won’t let THAT go, until I finally AM mad, or feel like a bad guy. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!! I’ve tried everything!!!!! Even not talking to her for years!

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    Andrea Schulman
    Posted July 19, 2015 9:06 am 0Likes

    That’s a hard one Dee! The energy there has built up into something pretty big, huh? I’m so sorry to hear about your frustration-that must be hard because on the one end you want to keep your sister in your life, but on the other hand being around her is extremely uncomfortable!

    OK. Here’s my advice:

    1. Perhaps start texting her (if you both text). If you can check in with her routinely with text you can replace some of the dreaded phone conversations. Texting can be easier to deal with energetically than speaking on the phone because you can respond at your leisure and you won’t have to listen to the inflection in her voice when she complains.

    You could send her small “thinking about you” texts or “sorry I can’t talk now, what’s up?” texts throughout the week to let her know you’re thinking about her, and save the big phone conversations for maybe once a month or something more manageable.

    Also remember: you aren’t required to pick up the phone (even though you may feel like you are), so pick up the phone less if it is uncomfortable for you. The less of her calls you answer the less she will call you.

    2. Small interactions are best…instead of taking vacations or trips with your sister I would stick to having lunch or coffee for now unless things improve. In other words, get in, get out! This way you have a chance to recover from her negativity quickly, without it snowballing too far as the hours and days drag on.

    3. Avoid giving her advice or trying to get her to focus on the positive. You clearly have wonderful intentions here, but she isn’t responding to this approach in a positive way. Instead, she seems to use these opportunities to argue for her negativity and assert herself further.

    So, instead of rationalizing with her when she is getting out of control, simply make up an excuse and leave the conversation. The less attention she receives from you when she is being negative, the less she will be negative around you.

    It may feel heartless or unkind at first, but it really works-and it will help spare your sanity!

    **On the opposite side of things, when she is in a good mood or on her best behavior, stick around a little longer-the more she receives attention for being positive, the more positive she will be around you.

    4. Keep a journal about your sister: Each day, spend a minute and write down the positive features you can identify about your sister.

    They may be big (like, she’s generous or reliable) or very, very small (like, she has nice teeth or handwriting or something). Each day reach for good feeling thoughts about her and write them down.

    The more we focus on the things we like in the people around us, the more they exhibit their redeeming qualities and the less they exhibit their negativity. We all shine a little brighter when the people around us are focused on our good traits (even when the focus is completely unspoken!).

    Lastly, always remember that if she wants to be negative-that’s her choice. Even if a positive lifestyle is working for you and you’d really like for it to help her too, you will only ever have the ability to change your own thoughts and feelings. Do what makes you happy and do what you can to feel positive, and let it be ok for her to make the choice to be negative in life. When you completely allow her to be the way she is, you will feel less frustrated by her choices.

    I hope you find these tips useful Dee. Good luck with your sister. Let me know how these strategies work for you!

    All the best,

    Andrea 🙂

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