Dealing with Toxic People: Stop Playing Their Game

Dealing with Toxic People: Have you ever met with a group of people - friends, family, coworkers, where you felt utterly drained by their negativity? I swear, I’ve entered these situations looking like a grape and leaving a raisin. These people literally sucked the life out of me.

Dealing with toxic people presents a great challenge. We are exposed to their desire and addiction to stirring shit up and taking a crap on your day. They love to look for the fight and negativity in everything and they aren’t happy until they have smeared their crap on the portrait of life. It’s draining and annoying.

When dealing with toxic people, it’s important to understand that they are looking to draw you into their world – like a tractor beam using its force to drag a captive space ship into the evil mother ship. Where’s Luke, Han Solo, and Chewie when you need them??!!

They ascribe to the mindset of “misery loves company” and love being on center stage bellowing their rage of the day.


Toxic people have a tendency of being self-centered, self-absorbed, manipulative and deceitful. They take pride in creating drama and conflict. Another trait is not showing compassion to others. They also tend to speak in terms of monologues rather than two-way conversations.


They should come with an off switch or a mute button.


Here are some suggestions for keeping yourself sane and taking the wind out of toxic peoples’ sails:


  • Call them out on their behavior. Be prepared for pushback. Tell them how their behavior makes you feel. Let them know that they are having a negative or painful effect on you.
  • For a lighter version of the previous suggestion, respectfully disagree with them and be sure to highlight “your take” of the situation with positive examples.
  • Resist the temptation to join their party. We all have our complaints, but don’t feed into theirs.
  • Set boundaries and make it clear that you won’t subject yourself to their negativity or manipulation.
  • Stop giving to them if all they do is take.
  • Ignore them.
  • Limit your time with them. If necessary, make yourself unavailable to them.
  • Change your routine. If they always find you in the break room, consider having lunch elsewhere. Anywhere except the restroom!!
  • Simply respond with “I’m sorry you had that experience.”
  • Attempt to change the subject by complimenting them on a job well done, acknowledging the beauty of their home and landscape, or highlighting their positive attributes.
  • Ask them to change the subject. Be calm, but be firm.
  • Discuss some of your challenges and how you overcame them by being positive, courageous, and determined.
  • Try the one or two word response, something short that will make them realize you aren’t taking their bait.
  • Master the “quick getaway.” Have a few good lines in your arsenal for when you must simply eject yourself from the situation. Consider saying: “I’m sorry, but I have an important appointment (phone call, etc.) and need to be on my way.” Something along these lines will help you.


There will never be a shortage of toxic people. Following these suggestions should help you manage these people more effectively. As always, feel free to add to this list. Use what works for you.


Wishing you peace and happiness as you continue to color your life’s portrait …


Just be sure to use non-toxic crayons. ~Ted

As You Continue Dealing with Toxic People...
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