Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Dealing With Toxic People

Relationships to avoid, by Travis Bradberry. Very applicable to me, and most people I know. This article helps me be less toxic to others, as well as helping me deal with the toxic people in my life. I find that re-typing the most applicable passages from articles like this helps me internalize them all the more. When I do this I try my best to give credit to others for their work and writings.  
Toxic relationships are a major drain on your energy, productivity, and happiness. At home and work 98% of people experience toxic relationships. They negatively influence employees and companies (and people at home) in the following ways:
80% lost time while worrying about incidents.
78% said their commitment to the company declined.
66% said their performance declined.
63% lost time avoiding the offender.
47% intentionally decreased the time spent at work.
25% admitted to taking frustrations out on customers.
12% said they left their job because of it.
48% intentionally decreased their work effort.
We can’t control the toxicity of others, but we can control our response to them. This has the power to alter the course of the relationship. Before a toxic relationship can be neutralized you must understand what makes it toxic in the first place. Toxic relationships develop when one person’s needs are no longer met, or someone/something is interfering with the ability to maintain a healthy and productive relationship.
The most common forms of toxic relationships, and strategies to help overcome them:
Passive aggressive relationships. Takes many forms, like a drastic reduction in effort. These types of people have difficulty receiving feedback and try to avoid the issue at hand, are sensitive and avoid conflict (me), which can lead to them leaving early or not working as hard. If this happens to you, communicate the problem to the offender as constructively and harmoniously as possible.
Lack of forgiveness and trust. Some people get so fixated on other people’s mistakes that it seems as if they don’t believe they don’t make mistakes themselves. These people hold grudges, are afraid people are going to do them harm, and may even begin nudging you out of important projects. This is frustrating because one mistake costs hundreds of “trust points” but hundreds of perfect actions are required to gain back one trust point. To win back trust pay extra-close attention to detail – and don’t be frazzled when they constantly when they’re constantly looking for mistakes. You have to use every ounce of patience to dig yourself out of the subjective hole you’re in.
One-sided relationships. Relationships are supposed to be mutually beneficial, but grow toxic when one person begins giving a disproportionate amount, or if one person only wants to take. If possible, the best thing to do with type is to stop giving. Unfortunately this isn’t always possible. When it isn’t, you need to have a frank conversation with the other party to recalibrate the relationship.
Idealistic relationships – when we hold people in too high a regard. Mistakes are overlooked, or violate morals to please them. Instead remain objective.    
Punitive relationships – when one person punishes the other for behavior that’s not in line with their expectations. Punitive types instinctively punish, without actively communicating, understanding, or giving feedback (me). This belittling approach creates conflict and bad feelings. To survive, choose your battles wisely. You won’t be heard if you dive right in to every conflict – they’ll just label you as too sensitive.
Relationships built on lies. These types are so caught up in looking good that they lose track of what’s fact and what’s fiction. Then the lies pile up and become the foundation of the relationship. People who won’t give straight answers don’t deserve your trust. If they’re willing to lie to you, how can you depend on them? The best thing to do is count your losses and move on.
How to protect yourself from a toxic person: Toxic people behave irrationally and against reason. Why allow yourself to respond emotionally and get sucked in? Your ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance – as a worker, spouse, or parent. Of top performers, 90% are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is their ability to identify toxic people and remain them at bay.
The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally (if possible, sometimes this is hard with family members). Approach your interactions with them like they’re a science project. You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos – only the facts. Maintaining emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you need to regroup and choose the best way forward.
Most feel as though because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This isn’t true. Once you identify someone as toxic you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. You can now better think more rationally about how and when and where you have to put up with them and when and where you don’t. You can establish boundaries, but do so proactively and consciously. If you let things just happen naturally you’re bound to find yourself embroiled in difficult situations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage the difficult person, you can control much of the chaos.  The trick: stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to cross them – which they will.

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