‘Do not allow people to dim your shine because they are blinded. Tell them to put on some sunglasses’-Lady Gaga
We have all experienced negative people at some point in our lives.
It may have been at work, at a club/organized event, a family member, or a friend.
In the past, I have been given the standard advice from trusted advisors about toxic people…
Just remove them from your life.
While this may work in some situations, it does not make sense in all relationship settings to ‘just get rid of negative people’ and just associate with positive people all the time.
What happens if the negative person is your boss, a colleague on your team, or part of your family?
What do you do in a real-life situation when not everyone is positive, optimistic, and conforming to your positivity and energy?
We all know people who are very critical, discouraging, always complaining, and energy zappers.
These are people who always find something wrong with a situation – the weather or the news for example.
So, getting rid of these people from your life for good, may not be realistic in every situation.
During my coaching conversations, when the topic of toxic people comes up – I always provide this recommendation before providing tools to combat toxic people.
DO NOT GET SUCKED INTO THEIR AGENDA!
- If they are gossiping, don’t partake.
- If they are trashing someone, don’t participate.
- If they are complaining endlessly about a situation or person, do not entertain them.
‘Pay no attention to toxic words. What people say is often a reflection of themselves, not you.’-Christian Baloga
Here are 3 Big Ideas on How to Disarm Toxic People:
1. SEE DEALING WITH NEGATIVE PEOPLE AS A CHALLENGE
I find this technique works especially well in the workplace or when out in the community participating in clubs and activities.
High performers and students of leadership are constantly developing their character.
Therefore, in order to test or expand your potential, think about using the energy of a toxic person as a challenge to improve your temperament.
For example, when someone is negative around me at work, I don’t play the victim or get sucked into their emotional pity party.
In fact, I don’t accept or let their negative energy, aggression, or complaining into my world.
Instead, I look at the situation as a defining moment… a Test…or a Challenge.
In the beginning, I try not to go into a negative situation with someone with the goal of trying to change their behaviour.
Instead, I have awareness at the moment that I need to shift my thinking from getting sucked into the emotion…
To stay centered, peaceful, and calm.
‘Don’t give your energy away to toxic people’-Robert Tew
Can I stay present in the moment right now without succumbing to their negativity and letting them win?
If you do surrender in that moment and absorb their toxic energy…
You are not winning the battle over managing and being in control of your emotions.
Don’t get sucked into their pools of pessimism – don’t let them win or influence your mindset.
I use my journal as a guide and tool to help manage my emotions and raise my character to the next level when dealing with toxic people.
I ask myself these questions weekly:
- Was I in control of my emotions this week? Or are the negative people calling the shots?
- Am I giving my power over to the world so they can just take my energy and turn it into what they want? If yes, what can you do better next time to minimize or stop it?
- When? Why? How? Was I in-charge of my emotions this week?
2. BREATHE AND GUARD YOUR ATTENTION:
When someone is being negative, constantly pessimistic, or cynical and it is clearly getting on your nerves or affecting your energy levels…
Pause and take 3 deep breaths before responding.
When you focus on your breath, it allows you to reset the moment.
You start to notice in real-time, how you are reacting to the toxic person.
For example, you may be experiencing heart palpitations, sweaty hands or your face may become hot.
This means that person is triggering you emotionally with their behaviour.
The more you breathe, the more awareness you have, and the more you are able to control your emotions in the moment.
Once you are in control of the moment and your emotions are in check, ensure you protect where your attention goes.
Where you focus your attention is where you focus all of your power.
The toxic person wants to direct your attention toward something that is important to them.
This means eliciting an emotional response and controlling your behaviour by guiding where to focus your attention.
By protecting your attention, the negative person won’t be able to pull you into their cynical and toxic story.
Instead, cancel, delete, and redirect so you are in control.
My book recommendation this week is one of the best reads of the year in my opinion. It’s called ‘Don’t you know Who I am? How to stay sane in an era of narcissism, entitlement, and Incivility by Dr. Ramani Durvasula.
In fact, one of my favourite quotes from the book is inspiring and impactful…
‘When dealing with toxic partners, always remember that it’s not because you are not enough. The other person is simply too foolish not to see your worth.’
Here is an interesting observation – Toxic people don’t know or think that they are toxic.
In fact, toxic behaviour is really easy to recognize in other people, but almost impossible to notice in ourselves.
I have had many days where I could have been considered toxic.
I’ve been addicted to drama, was rude, snapped, been impatient, gossipy, negative, or hollered when it was not appropriate.
So, when someone is consistently negative or pessimistic, ask yourself ‘what happened to them today or in the recent past that could have led to this type of behaviour?’
For example, maybe they had a bad experience with their boss, or failed at a project, missed a deadline, or are struggling with their partner or kids?
Maybe they are unclear about where they are in life and are taking it out on other people?
Maybe their own failures, struggles, and disappointments have devastated them?
The reality is we don’t know someone’s story.
I believe that once you can teach yourself that truth, you become more human, compassionate, and a better listener.
More importantly, you become less judgemental because you have the intention to empathize.
For example, you understand that the person may be in a bad place right now. You don’t internalize their negative energy and judge them. You may choose to change the narrative and think…I hope they are OK.
I believe that in some situations it’s true personal power to be in the company of a negative person (for example, at work or with a friend) and share that you wish them nothing but joy, health, and strength.
This is having hope for people, even if they are in a bad place.
‘If there are a lot of negative people in your life, don’t look at them, look at the energy you are creating to attract them.’-Oprah
When it comes to toxic people, the standard advice to remove them from your life is a good recommendation.
However, sometimes this can’t be done.
Dealing with toxic people who are part of your life can be controlled when you keep your power and are in control of the situation.
It’s not about the negative person, it’s how you manage and react in the situation.
Remember to see it as a challenge to develop your character, breath, and protect your attention and finally if the moment is right, strengthen your personal power by not judging, but by empathizing.
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I sincerely wish you the best on your journey to enhance your life!
George Andreas, Founder