Mark Goulston, MD writes:
A toxic person...
2. Doesn’t take turns.
3. Takes advantage of people who are down.
4. Gloats in victory.
5. Is sullen in defeat.
6. Is not fair.
7. Lacks integrity.
8. Is the kind of person you’ll avoid if you possibly can.
Three good responses to nearly every type of toxic person...
"Huh?" This one word can stop a jerk in his tracks. Use a mild, neutral tone of voice. Do this when the toxic person says something utterly ridiculous but acts as if he is being perfectly reasonable. This response conveys that what the toxic person is saying doesn’t make sense. It works because it signals that you are not engaging with the content of what he said.
"Do you really believe what you just said?" Use a calm, straightforward tone, not a confrontational one. This question works because toxic people often resort to hyperbole to throw others off balance. They are prone to using the words "always" and "never" to drive home their points. However, don’t expect the toxic person to admit that he is wrong. He is more likely to walk away in a huff -- which is fine because then you won’t have to waste more energy dealing with him.
"I can see how this is good for you. Tell me how it’s good for me." This response is a useful way to deal with a toxic person’s demands. If he stalls or changes the subject, you can say, "Since it’s not clear how this is good for me, I’m going to have to say no."
Toxic people draw energy from us and make us feel angry.
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