How to Successfully Handle Toxic People

Winners know how to avoid toxic behavior and manage toxic people in their lives.

Toxic behavior has become an epidemic.

It seems like everywhere I go, there are at least a handful of negative people in a room.

You can spot them from a mile away because they all seem to have the same miserable look on their faces.

They’re often sarcastic, rude, and closed-minded.

They have a negative outlook because they can’t seem to identify the positive things in their lives.

Toxic people, just like toxic chemicals, poison everything else around them. Their negativity can damage your productivity and hinder your progress toward success if you let it. 

Successful people know how to avoid letting toxic people and situations shut them down. They don’t allow other people’s negative words or actions to affect them negatively.

Life is like a game. You get to choose the strategies that will put you in a position to win.

There are wise choices and foolish choices. There are choices based on truth and choices based on feelings. The path you decide to follow is up to you.

Everyone has beliefs that drive their actions. Most people easily get caught up in negativity, but winners have faith in themselves and their ability to move past obstacles and on to bigger and better things.

I’m sure you encounter toxic people and situations often. Negativity can come from your family, co-workers, or even close friends. You have to be prepared and know how to respond

To help you handle toxic people and weed out negative trends in your own life, here are a few foundational tips.

Set Boundaries

set boundariesImage source:

Winners aren’t afraid to set boundaries. I believe that boundaries are imperative for success.

This statement holds true in both your personal life and professional life. People can’t read your mind.

You need to verbalize your boundaries. Be assertive. Tell people what you need from them. And I’m not talking about just physical boundaries. Boundaries can also apply to your time, your thoughts, and your emotions.

For example, let’s say a co-worker is constantly complaining about problems unrelated to work. At first you felt sympathetic towards them, but now you’re behind on your work because you got sidetracked.

The next time it happens, you could say, “I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on. Can we discuss this at lunch?”

If you give someone an inch, they’ll take a mile. It’s an old saying that I’m sure you’ve heard before.

Setting boundaries enables you to handle toxic situations without enabling them to negatively affect your work and your life.

Keep Your Emotions in Check

Successful people don’t make rash decisions based on emotions.

Sometimes toxic people can be really difficult to deal with. But if you can stay in control of your emotions, you will avoid doing or saying things that you might regret.

Be the bigger person. Don’t get dragged into a fight.

Toxic people are just looking to share their misery with other people. They know how to push buttons to get a rise out of others.

If you feel like a toxic person is trying to start an argument with you, refuse to get involved. Be aware of your emotions. Let them wash over you like a wave and then fade away.

Successful people have high emotional intelligence scores.

Emotional Intelligence

Winners understand how their emotions impact the people surrounding them.

Successful people know how to stay calm in nearly any situation. Don’t allow yourself to be fazed by toxic people.

Focus on Solutions

Toxic people often focus on problems. Winners focus on solutions.

You can’t avoid running into problems, but you can control how you respond to them.

In the early years of my business, I was focused on growth. So I did everything I could to make sure that growth could continue uninterrupted.

I made sure the rooms were big enough, promoted managers, and gave recognition where it was due.

I paid close attention to capacities so the larger workflows could be accommodated. This prevented bottlenecking and processing backups.

These are all solutions.

Toxic people struggle with moving past the problem, so they don’t see the potential solutions.

Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, put all of your effort into coming up with a solution.

Don’t Let Others Bring You Down

Misery loves company. Just because someone else is having a bad day, it doesn’t mean that you have to, too.

Think about the way others refer to positive people. They say things like, “His smile just lights up the room.”

Positive energy, smiling, and laughter is contagious. Unfortunately, so is negativity.

You need to recognize this and act accordingly. If a toxic person is bringing down the mood, rein in your emotions and force yourself to stay positive.

Smile. Think positive thoughts, and encourage others to do likewise.

Albert Mehrabian is a professor at UCLA who specializes in psychology. He is best known for his research and published studies on human communication.

Mehrabian believes that 93 percent of communication is nonverbal

So a toxic person can deflate the energy in a room without saying a word.

Mehrabian's 7-38-55 Rule of Communication


Your face, body language, and actions can emit negative or positive energy. Instead of slouching in your chair with a pout on your face, sit up straight and make eye contact. Walk quickly and purposefully to convey you’re on a mission.

Toxic people are blind to the fact that they are doing it to themselves, but by being aware of this behavior in yourself and others, you can overcome it.

Don’t allow a toxic person to control the room. It’s easy to let these people bring you down and ruin your day.

The things they say can be hurtful to others, including you. But nursing your hurt is a toxic habit.

If a toxic person says something to offend you, focus on how you can improve instead. Winners let negative talk go in one ear and out the other.

Protect Yourself

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Successful people protect themselves by limiting the time they spend engaging in toxic situations or hanging around toxic people.

There are some circumstances when it can feel unavoidable, like in the workplace. But you can still set your limits with someone who is toxic.

Here’s the thing. You don’t want to be rude. You can maintain a professional and personal relationship with toxic people without allowing their toxicity to influence you.

However you can only take so much before it becomes unhealthy.

Remove yourself from a situation involving a toxic person. It may sound intimidating, but you can do this without even having to apologize for your actions.

Just excuse yourself from the room. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Know how much of one negative thing you can take before it begins to affect your attitude.

Know how much of one negative thing you can take before it begins to affect your attitude. Click To Tweet

Just because a person comes up to you and complains about one thing, it doesn’t automatically mean they are toxic. Sometimes they just need to vent or get something off their chest.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re at a picnic with family and friends.

It’s a beautiful day to be outside and enjoy food with the people you care about. However, a friend comes over to you and starts complaining about the traffic on the ride over.

Does that mean their behavior is toxic? Not necessarily. But they continue complaining about other things as well.

It’s too hot out. The food is overcooked. They’re saying hurtful things about other people at the picnic.

Once you reached your limit of how much you can stand, just excuse yourself from the conversation and move on with your day.

Stay Productive

When something goes wrong, toxic people give up.

They stop what they’re doing and complain. Toxic people can poison a project.

If you’re working on a task with a group of people, it’s hard for a team to focus when a toxic person is making everyone feel like their efforts are useless.

Successful people rise above that.

It takes a team to accomplish anything great. Winners know how to motivate their team despite toxic energy in the room.

Lead by example. Set yourself up for success. Put the odds in your favor by monitoring how you think and how you work.

All the rewards go to the ones who finish. In order to complete the task at hand, make sure your actions bring you closer to the finish line.

Become a leader. Step up to the plate and show everyone around you that negative talk won’t hold you back.

Be confident. Understand the habits of highly confident people.

This is something that you need to keep in mind. It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond to what happens.

It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to what happens. Click To Tweet
It’s easy to just give up and join the pity party with all the toxic people in the room. But that’s not productive. That mentality won’t put you on a path to becoming a winner.

Nobody dreams of being number two. Greatness comes from putting fundamentals together in positive and powerful ways.

Take Care of Yourself

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying about someone who woke up “on the wrong side of the bed.”

This old idiom refers to a person who is in a bad mood from the second they wake up.

Toxic people tend to neglect themselves. They’re cranky and don’t want to get out of bed.

Winners pay attention to their body’s needs and are excited to start the day. They want to do the most with the hours that they are given, and they want to get out into the world to succeed.

If you want to successfully handle toxic people, the first thing you need to do is avoid toxic habits.

Staying up late at night when you have an early shift. Watching too much TV or wasting time on social media when you have other responsibilities. Overindulging in coffee instead of getting regular sleep.

These are toxic habits that will hinder your ability to be alert and on top of your game. Getting regular, natural sleep is a surprisingly important part of self-care.

Research shows that there is a direct correlation between sleep and its impact on your mood.

healthy sleep improves mood

If you are stressed out and can’t sleep at night, it increases your chances of feeling sad or depressed.

Winners prioritize healthy sleep because it helps them get mentally organized for success.

It’s like a car race. You win with what’s under the engine, not how pretty it looks on the outside. A car can be aerodynamic, fashionable, and beautiful. But if the engine sputters, the suspension is faulty, and the steering mechanism has problems, good things are not going to happen.

If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s going to have a snowball effect on the rest of your day.

You’ll be more susceptible to conforming to toxic behavior if you aren’t operating on all cylinders.

Know When it’s Time to Cut Ties

Even successful people can only handle so much toxicity in their lives.

There comes a point where you need to remove certain toxic people from your life. Sometimes this is easier said than done. It will depend on the person, their relationship with you, and the circumstances.

If one of your employees is having a bad day and making negative comments, it doesn’t mean you need to fire them. But it may be appropriate to ask them to tone down their comments or take a brief break to recalibrate.

However, if a person on your team is constantly negative and bringing toxic energy to meetings and group projects despite your efforts to address the behavior, you need to assess their future with the company. A person who hurts morale and slows down your projects may not be right for every assignment.

Try to remove them from group projects and assign them to something they can work on in isolation. Otherwise, it may be time to find a replacement for that toxic person.

Know when it’s time to cut ties with toxic people in your personal life as well.

Let’s say you have an old childhood friend. But now all they do is bring negativity into your life.

That’s not healthy. There’s nothing wrong with spending less time with them.

Instead, spend time with people who encourage you, do activities that energize you and push you toward success.

Don’t Let Toxic People Stop You From Winning

There will always be toxic people in the world.

Toxicity is contagious. You can feel it when you walk into a room or by observing the behavior of others.

But with that said, positivity is also contagious. Winners know how to rise above negative energy.

Set boundaries. Know your limits.

Stay productive. Don’t focus on problems, but on solutions.

Control your emotions. Don’t let other people change the way you feel. Successful people don’t let toxic people bring them down.

Don’t let other people change the way you feel. Successful people don’t let toxic people bring them down. Click To Tweet

Although it may be difficult, sometimes the best way to deal with a toxic person is by cutting ties with them.

By removing toxic people and behavior from your life, it will be easier for you to focus on greatness and become a winner.

How do you react when you encounter a toxic person? Tell us how you handle these situations in the comments section below.

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