We have all had people in our lives that are toxic to us in some way. They may be family members, colleagues at work, friends we’ve known since childhood, or bosses. These people may act as they care, but their behavior and tone give off signals that indicate they are judgmental or self-serving.
Their damage lies in their subtlety and the way they can have you questioning your ‘over-reactiveness;’ your ‘oversensitivity;’ or your ‘tendency to misinterpret.’ When people are rude to you, they reveal who they are, not who you are. Don’t take it personally. Here are some responses that work.
I didn’t see it that way
Notice how comments from a toxic person usually reveal their poor perception of themselves. Just tell them you appreciate their perspective, and you see it differently. It’s OK to change the topic, talk about you or steer conversations away from pity parties. Be willing to disagree with them and deal with the consequences.
“Thank you” is the perfect defense against a toxic remark. They’ll see that you didn’t let their words affect you, as you remain calm and centered.
Our conversation is over
If you find a toxic person’s remarks have gotten to you and you’re feeling anger, resentment or sadness, just end the conversation and walk away. Nothing good can result from getting defensive or saying something hurtful in response. When you end a conversation with abruptness, the message is clear: There is no reward for subtle digs, and no games will be played at your end.
That wasn’t necessary
This response puts the toxic person on notice, stopping their behavior on the spot. It also gives them an opportunity to see their impact, redeem themselves and perhaps apologize. Most toxic people don’t recognize their destructive tendencies or their inconsiderate behavior. You can be brutally honest if their overly negative attitude is what’s driving you away.
Admitting that the toxic person is “right” can be an effective way to silence them. It may not feel satisfying to you, but the conversation ends. You must not take their remark personally.