085 How to handle toxic people

We all know them–sometimes all too well. Toxic people. They leave us feeling worse after being with them. Here’s how to handle toxic people.


This week’s Inspire Me quote is from Bob Marley:

Truth is everybody is going to hurt you: you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.

Toxic people take something from you. Without asking. We can respond to them in one of three ways:

Spread the toxins. We can respond in anger and end up fanning the toxins further.

Run from the toxins. Avoiding toxic people altogether, especially those important to us, doesn’t fix the situation and often makes it worse.

Contain the toxins. Engaging the toxic person dispassionately about their abusive behaviors.

This simple “toxic triage” can help you put together your personal game-plan for handing a toxic person:

  1. Is this someone I want to avoid but cannot? The desire to avoid is a sign that you’re in the midst of a toxic person.
  2. What demands do I feel they are making on me? This question helps you name the toxin. Usually these demands are unreasonable and unfulfillable.
  3. Is this person important to me? If so, then ask the remaining questions to handle the situation. If not, then let them go. 
  4. What’s the one behavior that triggers my desire to avoid them? It’s possible that not everything they do is toxic, but you may not see that until you answer this question.
  5. When does that behavior occur? Identifying the trigger points can help you design a way to minimize the toxic interactions.
  6. How have I possibly contributed to it? Especially in the important relationships in our lives, we must examine our own roles in contributing to the toxic behavior of others.
  7. What changes can be made? Suggest possible new behaviors using the “When__I feel__ because__. I would like ___” formula from episode 63.

This week’s Challenge Me:

Use the toxic triage on someone who might be spreading toxins in your life.

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