How successful people deal with their toxic opponents

Original author: Travis Bradberry
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Unfriendly people (also called “toxic people” or “toxic”) challenge logic. Some of them arrive blissfully unaware of the negative impact they have on others, others seem to be satisfied by the creation of chaos and pressure on other people. One way or another, they create unnecessary difficulties, enmity and the worst is tension. Today we talk about 12 strategies for dealing with toxic people .

Studies have shown that stress and stress can have long-term negative effects on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress jeopardizes the effectiveness of the hippocampal neurons, an important brain area responsible for logical thinking and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neural dendrites (small “processes” that brain cells use to transmit nerve impulses), and months of stress can irreversibly destroy neurons. Stress out of control is a huge threat to your success. Both your brain and performance suffer.

Most sources of stress at work are fairly easy to identify. If your nonprofit organization is working to get the grant necessary for its further functioning, you probably feel the tension and probably know how to deal with it. Unexpected sources of tension and stress that take you by surprise harm you much more.

A recent study by the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany showed that exposure to irritants that cause strong negative emotions is similar to that you get when dealing with unfriendly (toxic) people who provoke you to extreme stress. Manifesting their negativity, cruelty, demonstrating victim’s syndrome or simple craziness, these people cause tension in the brain, which you should try to avoid at all costs.

The ability to control emotions and remain calm under pressure of circumstances has a direct relationship with productivity. TalentSmart conducted a study in which more than a million people participated. This study showed that 90% of the most productive people have the ability to manage their emotions at the time of stress, can remain calm and maintain self-control. One of their greatest advantages is the ability to neutralize unfriendly people. High-performance people have a refined coping strategy that they successfully use to keep energy vampires aloof.

Having studied the many effective strategies that successful people use when dealing with complex opponents, I identified the twelve best. To deal effectively with toxic people, you will need an approach that will allow you to control everything that is possible and eliminate the rest. It is important to remember that in fact you are controlled much more than it seems.

They set limits (especially when dealing with those who constantly complain)

Anyone who constantly complains and has a negative attitude is not a good conversationalist, because such a person simply flounders in his problems, and does not look for ways to solve them. These people draw others into their troubles, cry in a vest to feel better at the expense of others. Many experience internal tension, but listen to complaints so as not to appear rude and insensitive, but there is a fine line between the offer of one's waistcoat for tears and the willingness to be drawn into the funnel of other people's negative emotions.

You can only avoid this if you set boundaries and can distance yourself if necessary. Think about it this way: if a complaining person smoked, would you sit all day beside him, breathing in tobacco smoke? Surely you would have moved away. You also need to act with complaints. A great way to set boundaries is to ask the complaining person how he intends to solve his problem. He will either calm down or redirect the conversation to a productive course.

They do not die in the struggle

Successful people know how important it is to understand that retreating does not mean giving up, especially when your opponent is a toxic person. During a conflict, uncontrolled emotions make you stand your ground and fight until you are dealt serious psychological damage. If you recognize and react correctly to your emotions, you are able to choose the method of battle wisely and stand your ground only when the right time is coming.

They rise above the situation

Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior seems irrational to you. Their behavior really runs counter to common sense. But why do you allow yourself to react emotionally and become hostage to their delusional state?
The more irrational and non-standard a person behaves, the easier it should be for you to communicate with him and avoid his traps. Do not try to defeat him in his own field. Move away from this person emotionally and begin to treat him as an object of study (since the therapist treats his patient if this analogy is close to you). You should not react to emotional chaos - only to the facts.

They understand their emotions.

The process of maintaining emotional distance must occur consciously. You cannot stop a person from putting pressure on your weak points unless you understand that this is happening. Sometimes you will find yourself in situations where you need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is wonderful, and you should not be afraid to spend your time on these processes.
Think this way: if a mentally ill person approaches you on the street and says that he is John F. Kennedy, you are unlikely to persuade him. Similarly, if you come across a colleague whose thoughts are far from reality, just smile and nod. If you need to somehow interact with such a person, try to plan ahead in advance the best way to cope with this task.

They set the boundaries

This is an area in which most people underestimate their abilities. This happens because many people work or live with people in whose communication uncontrolled chaos appears. But as soon as you find your way to rise above these people, their behavior will seem more predictable and understandable to you. This will give you the opportunity to rationally approach the question of when and where their behavior is permissible or not permissible. For example, even if you work closely with someone in the same project team, this does not mean at all that you are required to communicate with him in private and in general have the same relationship as with other team members.

You can set a border, but you have to do it consciously and well in advance. If you let events take their course, you will constantly be drawn into difficult, unnecessary conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you intend to communicate with some difficult person, you can control most of the chaos. The main point is to stand your ground and guard the borders when your opponent tries to break them.

They will not allow anyone to limit their joy

If your pleasure and satisfaction depends on the opinions of other people, then you are not the master of your own happiness. When emotionally literate people feel satisfaction in connection with some kind of their action, they do not allow anyone's opinion or caustic remarks to spoil their mood.

Although a person cannot completely not react to the opinion of others about himself, you do not need to compare yourself with others - public opinion should be taken with a degree of skepticism. Thus, no matter what toxic people think or do, your self-esteem will remain unchanged. Regardless of the opinion that people have about you in a particular situation, it is indisputable that you are neither good nor bad as much as they think about you.


They do not focus on problems - only on their solution

Your emotional state depends on what you focus on. If you focus on the problems you are facing, you create and escalate negative emotions and tension. If you focus on self-improvement paths and on your circumstances, you create a sense of personal effectiveness by gaining positive emotions and reducing stress.

As for toxic people, focusing on how difficult they are to communicate and far from reality gives them power over you. Stop thinking about how harmful your opponent is. Instead, think about how to communicate with him more correctly. So you will become more efficient, be able to establish control over the situation, reduce the degree of stress that you experience when interacting with it.

They do not forget

Emotionally literate people quickly forgive, but this does not mean that they forget everything. Forgiving means letting go of what happened and moving on. But this does not mean that you should give the offender a second chance. Successful people do not want to wallow in the mistakes of others - they quickly resolve the problem that has arisen and then continue to persevere, protecting themselves from harm.

They suppress negative internal dialogue.

Sometimes we absorb the negativity of the people around us. There is nothing strange in the fact that you are upset about how you are being treated, but your internal dialogue (your thoughts about your own feelings) can either strengthen the negative, or help you move away from it. A negative internal dialogue is not realistic, it is not needed - it only has a detrimental effect on you. It seems to send you down the emotional spiral, from which it is difficult to find a way out. You must avoid negative internal dialogue at all costs.

They limit their caffeine intake.

The use of caffeine provokes an adrenaline rush. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight or run away” reflex, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run without looking back when faced with a threat. The “fight or run” mechanism suppresses rational thinking in favor of a faster reaction to the situation. This is very useful if you are being chased by a bear, but not good if you meet an angry colleague in the hallway. (We recommend reading a useful article on caffeine “How to get the most energy from caffeine” )

They get enough sleep

I have been struggling with this issue for many years and cannot tell in a nutshell about the importance of sleep to strengthen your emotional literacy and ability to control stress levels. When you sleep, your brain is literally recharged, processing the memories of the past day, saving or deleting them (this is the reason for our dreams) so that you wake up in the morning full of energy and with a clear mind. Your composure, attention and memory - everything suffers if you are not enough sleep. Lack of sleep increases stress levels by itself, even without the actual stimulus.

A good night's sleep makes you more positive, creative, and your approach to dealing with toxic people becomes proactive. Only having a good sleep, you can create the strategy necessary for effective interaction with complex opponents.

They use their support system.

It is tempting, but still completely ineffective, to try to cope with everything on your own. To deal with toxic people, you must recognize weaknesses in your approach to dealing with them. You will need to connect your support system to deal with a complex person. Everyone has someone at work and / or out of work, who is always there, supportive and ready to help get out of the most difficult situation. Determine the circle of such people for yourself and try to enlist their understanding and support so that you can get help at the right time. Even a simple explanation of the situation to someone can lead to a new perspective and help you develop your strategy. More often than not, other people see those decisions. and ways out of the situation that you simply don’t notice, because outsiders are not so emotionally involved in the situation.

To summarize

Before your system starts to work brilliantly, you will have to go through some tests. Most often, you will be tested for strength by annoying interactions with difficult people. Fortunately, the plasticity of the brain allows it to adapt and change if you practice new behavioral strategies, even unsuccessful ones. The use of healthy methods to relieve stress from contact with difficult people will train your brain to more effectively deal with stress and reduce the likelihood of harmful effects.

I like to learn new technologies for successful interaction with toxic people, so do not be shy and share your experience in the comments below!

PS. We recommend another article on the topic - To become a leader for others, first become a leader for yourself.

Translation by Vyacheslav Davidenko, founder of MBA Consult

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