We all deal with people who we consider difficult. But, there are specific types of humans, those who are unbearable, miserable, and just leave a bad taste in your mouth; we like to define them as toxic. While dealing with difficult people is challenging, it’s definitely doable, as they tend to have less of an impact on your life.
As we discussed in How Can I Handle Someone Who is REALLY Toxic? Part 1, there are numerous strategies that you can use to deal with toxic people. Today we are going to cover additional strategies to attempt if those listed in Part 1 just weren’t enough to deal with your difficult people situation.
Trial and Error
I have had the privilege to work and study across a variety of industries and organizations (e.g. politics, education, corporate, nonprofit, etc.). Across these different worlds, I have encountered some of the most toxic people imaginable, particularly in the field of politics. I learned quickly to manage ego’s, identify the people who needed to feel in control, and others who would ultimately stab you in the back, no matter how kind you were to them. Each separate personality required a different strategy. Sometimes, one would work, and sometimes it would not.
The reality for surviving in this environment is being able to apply the right tactic in the right situation with the right person. How can you determine this? Sometimes it’s trial and error. Why keep trying? Because if you have to remain in the situation you find yourself in, taking action to attempt to reduce the personal impact of stressors stemming from difficult people and behaviors is an act of mercy for yourself, and ultimately you are worth it.
Sometimes, People Suck
I will readily admit, some people just suck. I do my best to limit my exposure to those people and focus on controlling my reactions and own stress when I am forced to face them. In the event that it is a boss or anyone who is in a position of power, it is important to recognize the moments where we must actively create barriers, boundaries, and set expectations. If they are violated, this requires a reaction. The reaction may be to revert to leave the situation. It may also be to actively and directly correct the behavior.
The most important thing to remember here is to PLAN the response. Reacting without a plan or strategy is a surefire way to allow the limbic system to drive our behavior. Preparation and planning on how to address these breaches of our behavioral standards are essential. It allows us to plan the right tactic for the right situation, with the right amount of controlled emotion.
“It’s your heart attack.”
I often revert back to this saying. In the most extreme cases where people are completely toxic and unmanageable, it may be the best strategy to remove yourself from the situation. If someone is experiencing prolonged anxiety, stress, or a lack of psychological safety, the impacts of this outweigh the potential security of employment or staying in that environment. I know, easier said than done sometimes, but in certain cases, this is the only viable option.
I said it before and I will say it again – the only behavior that you can control is your own. As such, we need to practice Behavioral Intelligence and learn to better manage our interactions with other people. If you need additional help, feel free to reach out for individual coaching or group training options to assist you in dealing with difficult people.