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10 ways to handle toxic people when you’re an authentic person

Have you ever caught yourself staring at someone wondering how on earth they could be so ignorant? 

It takes all kinds to make the world go round, but that doesn’t mean that it is always easy to get along with people who might make life difficult for us.

When it comes to dealing with people of a toxic or destructive nature, people who have a head on their shoulders have a number of strategies for navigating those tricky relationships.

Here’s how intelligent people handle toxic people in work and life.

1) Know your limits

When it comes to dealing with people who are toxic, it is important for you to set a limit for what you are willing to put up with.

Some people might be able to listen to complaining for 10 minutes while others don’t want to hear it at all. Set a limit for yourself and stick to it. Don’t get down with someone else’s negativity.

2) Breathe Deep and Rise Above

Knowing how to take a minute to regroup helps smart people keep it together when dealing with toxic people.


They realize that you can’t change people and that someone who is gossiping or ruining an experience for others probably can’t help themselves and they would rather not get involved.

3) Stay Connected to Your Feelings

Paying attention to how you feel can help you overcome situations that make you feel uncomfortable or at odds with yourself.

When talking to someone who is toxic, smart people are polite enough to give the person their attention, but keep one eye on their emotions so they can determine when it’s time to move on.

4) Smart People Know When to Walk Away

Smart people don’t pick fights with toxic people and if a toxic person decides to pick a fight with a smart person, smart people know they don’t need to win. They can stay confident in their position without feeling like they need to beat this person in a match of wits.

5) Keep the Focus on the Solutions

One way that smart people deal with toxic people is they continually change the conversation to bring it back to the issues at hand, and not the people involved.

By taking people out of the equation, you are removing the emotional piece for the toxic person and you can have more success in dealing with those kinds of people more often.

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6) Forgive, But Don’t Forget

While intelligent people can move on quickly from a dispute, that doesn’t mean that they haven’t learned their lesson.

They’ll avoid these situations in the future, and the person altogether if they have to. They know that their happiness and wellbeing is more important than trying to show up the toxic person in the cubicle next to them. It might be that you have to leave these people behind and find a new crew to call your own.

7) Be aware of the sunk cost fallacy

What’s keeping you in a toxic relationship? According to the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Twerksy, humans are notoriously loss-averse and usually prefer to hold onto what they have in the short term – even if giving up a little in the short term will lead to more in the long run.

Intelligent people keep this in mind and realize that the short term loss of a toxic friend may actually lead to long term gain.

8) Recognize the power of intermittent reinforcement

Despite what you may have thought, humans are overly optimistic. We tend to see a close loss as a “near win”. This is what keeps people on slot machines.

Evolution explains this. In our hunter gatherer days, when the challenges of life were mostly physical, staying encouraged enough to keep going and turn the near win into a real one was a good thing. S


So in toxic relationships, humans can be motivated to hang in there, even though we only get what we want some of the time.

Intelligent people realize that “now and again” does not make a pattern.

9) Anticipate push-back retaliation

It’s likely that the toxic person is benefiting in some way from the way they’re acting to you. Once you set boundaries, chances are they will redouble their efforts to keep manipulating to gain the upper hand. Intelligent people keep firm, strong and direct.

10) Don’t normalize abusive behaviour

They tend to excuse their behaviour by saying things like “they’re only words” or that the real problem was your sensitivity. Intelligent people realize  that emotional or verbal abuse is never OK.




***Do you want to be a stronger person? Do you want to stare down your challenges and overcome any obstacles? If so, check out our eBook: The Art of Resilience: A Practical Guide to Mental Toughness.

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