Christian Living


Family Matters 02/01/18

How to Deal with Toxic People

Angry coworkers

Toxic people! We all know one or two people we would describe in those terms.

Rob, often described as toxic, is a co-worker whom you try to avoid as much as possible. You know, that person who seems to be completely unaware of the chaos and negativity he or she brings to relationships.

Toxic people thrive on pushing your buttons and seem to be involved in drama all the time. Most times, we just want to distance ourselves from someone like Rob. Other times, we need strategies to deal with him. Here are a few tips to take on a toxic person...

The most difficult part in dealing with a toxic person is when conflict comes up. Toxic people see you as the conflict, not the issue as the conflict. Their unchecked emotions make the conflict so unpleasant that you leave the argument feeling drained and even damaged and think, “I don't want to do that again.” They don't live to fight another day, they live to fight! So you have to be able to stand your ground on the issue and not be distracted by all the drama.

Boundaries are important when dealing with people in general, but they become especially important when you're dealing with toxic people. Toxic people often take advantage of people with poorly defined boundaries and with people who have problems asserting themselves.

You can establish a boundary, but you'll have to be intentional. If you let things happen naturally, you are bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you'll engage a toxic person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will.

Boundaries are important because toxic people are usually unwilling to take responsibility for his/her own actions, thoughts, and emotions. This means they are going to project their problems on you or blame you. And if they don't respect the boundaries, you are probably going to need a build a wall of protection if things get too bad. If the difficult person is a friend or coworker, limit your contact or even walk away when things feel too tense. This is easier to do in a work setting, unless the person is your boss, and harder to do with a family member.

If the toxic person hurts you, forgive, but be smart about moving forward with that person. You don't need to keep putting yourself in harm's way with a toxic person if they aren't making changes. Forgive and watch how they respond in the future.

Now, if that toxic person is your spouse, you need to tell them that their behavior is hurting the relationship. And that while you forgive him or her, there needs to be change in order to grow in the relationship.

Bottom line is that you can control your reactions to the toxic person and not allow them to define you or the relationship. Set those boundaries, minimize contact, and if the toxic person is a family member, get help and support in terms of how hold boundaries and push for change.

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