Keeping the Positive: Helpful Ways to Combat Toxic People

Hello hello! I’ve been having such writer’s block recently and I’m not sure why to be exact. Right now in my life, to be up-front with you all, I’m amidst juggling ten billion different things at once. I’m not even sure why I’m putting myself under this much pressure, but for some reason, I feel the need to and that’s whats happening. I wanted to get on here today very much and write about something that has been going on recently in my life and I find it so imperative to share with you all because I would hate (and I seldom use that word) for this to happen to you. 

I am a particularly sensitive person. I cry at the drop of a hat. It could be a sad moment, a happy moment, or even the slightest sign that my own dreams will come true and you can be sure that I’m balling my eyes out. Now, I’m not sure why I’m this way exactly but for some reason I am. Being a sensitive person (not to be confused with being weak) I find that I regularly enjoy getting the approval of others around me and I don’t take criticism well. This is an aspect of my personality that I battle with, and I have found that being more aware of it really does help me get over it and grow stronger. However . . . 

It was just this day today that I realized just because somebody says something about you, does NOT mean that it is true. Personally, I take people’s words to heart. Why? Possibly because I wouldn’t ever think of maliciously saying something to hurt somebody else. I care about people and I like being positive and encouraging others when they need it. Recently, however, I have been a doormat when it comes to standing up for myself and I’m taking action to stopping it (and telling you fine people in the process). 

When I am not blogging or working on a project for RM Media (my media company) or finishing up my degree, I work part time for a company. I LOVE this company and I cannot wait to see the wonderful things we do in the coming year. HOWEVER, I have let a toxic co worker inflict their insecurities upon my emotional health and thinking. Has this ever happened to you? Negative people don’t tend to strike all at once, rather, they prey on you like a slow growing disease waiting for the moment in which you fail. It is through the accumulation over time that their actions, behaviors, and words start to sink into your subconscious and eventually eat away at you emotionally. I hit a wall today with this very thing. I have found that what you believe about yourself always manifests at the surface at some point. Toxic people lend their negative ways into your mind and before you know it, your behavior begins to reflect that. 

Lets say for example that you love dressing up (because you have a fashion blog and think that dressing up for work happens to be appropriate for a professional) but you know that with it comes an onslaught of nasty side remarks, jabs at your intelligence, and an overarching feeling of guilt inflicted upon you by your toxic person (TP). At first, you may not notice the inklings of jealously brewing up between you and your subject TP but after the first few weeks and months things become more apparent. The mentally tough persona would brush off the negative comments. However, how many of us are tough enough to withstand a daily battle with our superiors in a supposed neutral environment? Its harder than you’d think. For a sensitive (but working on it!!) person like myself, this kind of daily belittling can be quite destructive. 

If you have to deal with a toxic person at your place of work (or in any other situation for that matter) remove yourself from whatever connection you have IMMEDIATELY. If you, like I, however, cannot remove your TP from your life, here are some helpful strategies to keep their comments from dragging you down: 


Keeping the Positive: Helpful Ways to Combat Toxic People


+ Remember: Just because Somebody says Something about you, Doesn’t Mean its True + 

My personal TP actually once told me that I must have a mental disorder and/or ADD and that my problems weren’t real problems, my mind was just stuck in high school (I had no idea! – sarcasm). I think I started to believe this person for a while until it dawned on me, problems are all relative and what person in their right mind would tell that to another human being? For a woman who’s been involved in more businesses than probably possible for a 22 year old, my mind certainly is not stuck in high school either. 

+ Create a Plan for Dealing with Negativity on the Spot + 

Study your personal TP to see when they start with their crude remarks. The insults come flying my way whenever I dress nice, impress one of my co-workers, am confused about certain tasks, or let my TP in on my personal life (office jokes, personal anecdotes, stories and chit chat etc). I’m also belittled whenever I come up with new ideas and am told that I “don’t know anything” . . . Right. When you are prepared and know when your TP will start with their harassment, you will be more aware of the fact that it is them, not you with an issue that needs to be worked out and you won’t take their comments personally. 

+ Before Responding to their Remarks, PAUSE + 

There is nothing on this earth more powerful than a well-placed pause. I have found that some of the most affluent individuals speak slowly and with purpose. How do they drive their statements home? A thoughtful pause. Before you respond to any negativity, ask yourself, “Am I acquiescing?” and “Is their statement true?” If a TP slips a false statement into their demands, ex. “You are too young an inexperienced to do X, Y, Z” (I’m not) or ” You don’t know what you are talking about” (I do know what I’m talking about), address their negative remark before addressing any other point. “Its actually funny that you say I don’t know what I’m talking about because I wouldn’t have spoken up about the subject if I didn’t. Furthermore, I think I am the most qualified person in this meeting to talk about hiring photographers. I’ve been modeling on and off for 5 years now and have worked with and hired dozens of them on a regular basis.” (This is me now saying what I should have said, but learn from my mistakes!) 

+ People Do not have to like You. However, they MUST Respect You +

When you fail to nip negativity up front, you allow a TP to continue with their disrespectful ways. Nobody in this world HAS to like you. Respect, on the other hand, is crucial. If you, like me, automatically assume that the person in charge is to be respected than being treated poorly by them may be difficult for you to confront. Be strong. It must be done or the harassment will continue on. A TP is bored with their own circumstances and finds joy in creating drama for others. Don’t buy it for a second! Your time and efforts are too precious to be brought down by childlike behavior. Keep in mind that bonding with them at the expense of others (office gossip, etc.) will NOT make them respect you either. It brings you down to their level and lets them know you are an appeaser. 

+ Set Boundaries For Yourself + 

If you know that you are going to spend a good portion of your waking hours dealing with your TP, set boundaries for yourself beforehand. Dealing with toxic people can actually prove to be a great motivating factor in getting work done! Use your newfound focus to go above and beyond, hard work pays off even in the face of negativity! Tell yourself, “no matter what they say, I know my worth and that is all that matters” repeat this (or similar) mantra until you are blue in the face. Some of mine are, “You can do this, Rachel” “Come on Walker”  and “Don’t let ’em bring you down” (Yes I’m serious – mantras are great for triggering positive and productive emotions!) 

+ Be Sweet as a Georgia Peach + 

The saying is true, “You catch more bees with honey than vinegar” but in the case of your TP, don’t let them mistake your kindness for weakness. If needed and appropriate, by all means, whip out the vinegar (but only if you have to) ! What I mean is, it is much harder for somebody to be purposefully mean to you when you treat them with respect and kindness. This saying also applies to office politics. If going to war with your TP (avoid doing so as if makes you look just as bad as them) then by all means, ready the troops (co workers, friends, family) so that they defend you in the line of fire. Being kind to everybody pays dividends when under attack. You just never know when somebody will come to your rescue so be kind always! (Thank you to my coworker who shall remain unnamed – your supportive text was very much appreciated!) 

+  Last but not least, Thank Them + 

What do I mean, thank them?! This person has caused you to dread going to work, a loss in motivation, feelings of anguish, uncertainty in yourself! The list goes on and on! How on earth could you thank them? After my TP puts me down I remember, “If they didn’t feel threatened by me in some way” or “If I wasn’t good at X, Y, Z” or “If I didn’t make them face up to their own shortcomings” I would NOT be getting treated this way. In a whacky and inappropriate way, their harassment if anything, speaks to how you make them feel about themselves. Take it as a compliment. They put you down as reassurance of their own standing and/or control. Remember, those who cannot control themselves try to control others. 

Lastly, thanking (or even praying) for your TP helps you view the situation for what it really is and helps you handle it better. A person, so unsure of themselves, that they find the need to bring you down. Its actually kind of sad. Even if you are mad or upset at your TP (and rightly so) use this knowledge to foster something good! I took my experiences and wrote them out so that hopefully, somebody reading this will know how to handle the negative and toxic person(s) in their lives. How can you turn your TP experience into something positive? 

Have you ever experienced dealing with toxic and/or negative people? How have you handled the emotional bruising? What are your thoughts to my suggestions? Let me know and comment below!

Xo – Ray

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