How to deal with toxic people

I’m not sure you know the term “toxic people”. Nevertheless, I’m sure you have met these people many times in your life, as I have in mine. They seem to exist everywhere. You can find them in your workplace, among your friends, even in your family sometimes. But what does “toxic people” mean and how can you deal with them?

Generally, we can characterize as “toxic” any person that affects our life and, above all, our emotional world, in a negative way. Toxic people consume our energy and make our lives miserable in many ways.

He/she may be always living in a drama, always seeing the negative in everything. You will find him/her always complaining and never seeking any kind of solution. You are the lucky one, when he/she is so unlucky.

Another form of toxicity is the kind of person that is always angry, yelling or bullying you in any way. You are never good enough, or you are always to blame for everything that goes wrong. He/she may be a member of your family or your boss or even a coworker.

There are also people that are so selfish, they are always seeking attention, they may even try to get credit for what you have achieved. They are needy and they are always right!

And then, we have the ones who are constantly lying. They will mislead you in any way they can. They will try to withhold information, in order to achieve their goals. They will twist every situation in any possible way. They may ever lie about you to others without any remorse.

And what about the people always gossiping behind other people’s backs? We all may have been caught up in gossiping from time to time (not that I approve of that), but I am referring especially to those who are doing it systematically every day. They know who went where, with whom, they are making an effort to invade in other people’s lives. They are always criticizing everyone. They are even running around telling stories about others. And make no mistake. These people have no boundaries and no friends. They come to you with other people’s stories and then they go to them and they gossip about you.

Those are the main types of a “toxic” person. Of course, you can include any other type that makes you feel unhappy, depressed, awkward, ashamed of yourself or even scared every time you are near this person.

The best way to deal with such a person is to distance yourself. The ideal thing would be to remove these persons from your life. But that is not possible most of the times. You may have to work with them or they may belong to your family.

In that case, you have to stand up for yourself. Set some boundaries. Try to speak to them and tell them how they make you feel. Express your feelings and ask them to stop hurting you in any way they do. Depending on the kind of relationship you have with that person (work, family, friend), choose the right language, but make things clear. If they don’t seem to understand, or even if they do, but they don’t change their behavior, protect yourself from them, without feeling guilty for doing that. Toxic people take advantage of our guilt. Don’t let them get into your mind and into your soul. For instance, if they are always complaining for everything, try not to listen to them. Make an excuse and leave, if you can, or try to change the subject. Think of something positive, something that makes you happy and stick to that thought.

Always be polite, but stand up for yourself, hold your ground! Do not allow them to take advantage of you in any way. And as Greek history teaches us, you can do what Alexander the Great did with the Gordian knot: if you cannot undo a knot, just cut it! If you cannot change a person, move forward with your life. Unfortunately, you cannot help everyone, especially if a person does not want to be helped. You can try, but without losing your soul.

Have you ever dealt with toxic people? What did you do? I will gladly read your comments!


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38 thoughts on “How to deal with toxic people”

  1. Unfortunately, toxic people are a fact of life. Your post does a great job identifying different types and offering solutions. Sometimes it feels like they go out of their way to make our life difficult. Distance has always been my go to solution. Thanks for sharing your insights!

    1. Toxic people are everywhere. And sometimes they are people who are very close to us (family, close friends) and it’s even harder to deal with them. But when we cannot change them, we have to take care of ourselves. Thank you for your kind words about my post. 🙂

  2. The most annoying is when a frenemy tells you very degrading things about yourself and then acting very natural in front of others. And even if you tell this person that he/she has hurt your feelings, they reply to you that you overreacted. My sollution is cut off these people of my life. If they are colleagues or family I am very polite with them but never listen to what they say or start a conversation with them. Thanks for the great article Rodanthi!

    1. I think all of us have a similar experience. We should distance ourselves from those persons and we should never allow them to hurt us and make us feel depressed. Thank you for your kind words! 🙂

  3. I agree with you totally.
    This type of people are not needed in our lives, but we don’t have to be rude if we want them not to be part of our lives. We are creators of our environment.

    1. Of course we don’t have to be rude. Otherwise we will become toxic ourselves. You are right. We do create our own environment. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject. 🙂

    1. I’m sure it was very hard to do so, but some people give us no choice other than to cut them out of our life. I’m glad that my article was able to help you. 🙂

  4. I’ve had to cut a few recently. Sadly since I started this blog. People don’t like it when the ‘little guy’ suddenly gets attention it seems. I don’t know what it is but those who can’t be happy for your happiness and sad for your sadness don’t belong. You simply have to cut them off. It’s very sad to lose a friend to their own toxicity.

    1. I so much agree with you! “Those who can’t be happy for your happiness and sad for your sadness don’t belong.” Very well said!

  5. Toxic people can be found anywhere and everywhere. The best you can do is try to shield yourself from them and avoid being around them. We call these types of people “emotional vampires” because they will play on your emotions while sucking the life out of you!

  6. Unfortunately toxic people come in all shapes and different personalities. I’m just realising I have one in my life right now and I need to do something to make it better for me. Very thoughtful post.

    1. The first step is to identify a toxic person. Then you have to act, otherwise you’ll find yourself devoured by negativity as time goes by.

  7. I hate toxic people who keep yelling and blaming at others just for nothing. As far as your article is concerned, I’m really into the lines written in last paragraph. Yes, you can’t disturb your life for others.

  8. Oh there are so many people who can easily be termed as toxic but it is best to stay away from them because they bring a lot of negativity and serve as barriers to our own progress.

    1. I agree. It’s very hard to deal with a toxic family member. You can keep some distance, but this is not always easy. But you have no other choice if he/she does not understand the problems he\she is causing.

  9. I used to live with a toxic person, I even fail my exam because of her, she was manipulating everyone and made me and the other flatmates fight, she would create drama where there was it. She got close to me and used my insecurities against me hence why i failed my exam. If it’s a friend or an outsider you could as you said cut the knot, but I couldn’t I had to be in same house with her for a year since we sign contracts. I found my old self as soon as got away from her.

    1. I am sure that this was a very difficult situation. I’m glad that it’s over now. At least you have gained enough experience to track a toxic person and protect yourself in the future. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  10. I try to maintain my own standards of remaining professional and positive. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but yes, sometimes it is necessary to simply distance yourself from some people as much as possible. Even “toxic” people have good qualities, so sometimes showing kindness toward people who are generally negative can go a long way.

    1. Kindness always goes a long way! But sometimes the situation is unbearable and a toxic person may take advantage of your kindness and compassion. In that case, distance is the only way. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter.

  11. Love your post. I stay away from toxic people like a plague. I find that the older I get, the less tolerant I am of them and I delete them from my life and if I cannot do that, I definitely stay away from them if possible and surround myself with positive energy and be with the people I want to hang out with : )

    1. I so much agree with you! The older we get, the less tolerant we are. There is no reason to waste our time and our energy with toxic people. Thank you for your kind words! 🙂

  12. I always believe that to surround yourself with positivity is to surround yourself with positive people…there will always be toxicity but just to do your best to avoid it and accept that it is a fact of life…unfortunately!

    1. Yes, unfortunately we can not change the world. But we can change the world around us by choosing the persons we want near us.

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