How to Handle Toxic People

Realizing that someone is like poison can truly be an eye opener! It is not always apparent at first because many times it is someone that you love.

It is important to remember that toxic people don’t care about your desire to be respected. Toxic people only care about themselves.

They will make you feel like they are in control which will eventually make you feel powerless.

If you know exactly what I am talking about, the following steps will help guide you in taking that power back…

You must take that power back!

#1 Set Limits.

A few years ago I had a real estate client who wanted everything to go his way and when it didn’t he threw a literal fit! He would email me all of his complaints, cursing in every sentence, and sometimes even walk out of a showing with no explanation if the house wasn’t what he thought it should be.

He treated me like a servant who had to obey his every demand. I quickly realized that his behavior was abusive and would have to be dealt with. I stopped catering to him and explained that my need for my time and energy to be respected was just as important as his need to see a home.

I explained to him I had other clients, a family, and many other responsibilities so sometimes I couldn’t get him in for a showing as quickly as he wanted.

When it came time to write an offer he wasn’t financially prepared to do so, so I required a pre-approval from a lender because I didn’t want to waste the sellers time.

He changed lenders at least three times and I finally refused to show him anymore houses until he decided which lender to use.

It wasn’t that I wanted to push him away, I was willing to help. But I needed to set boundaries so that he would respect me. Since he didn’t want to do that he found another agent who eventually closed on the house that I found him.

You know what? I was okay with that! I lost nearly $5000 in commission on the sale of that house but I had my self-respect and that is worth way more to me.

I personally have enough grit I could’ve stuck it out but it wasn’t worth risking my emotional well being; no amount of money or material possession is worth that!

I was grateful the other Realtor was able to help him. There is nothing on this planet worth sacrificing your peace of mind. Set limits with toxic people and when they walk away from you, LET THEM GO.

#2 Do not Chase Them!

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Toxic people are hard to deal with because they are very selfish. Do not allow them to spend any more time in your presence than necessary and do not allow them to be verbally abusive.

If they begin abusive behavior sometimes you have to stand your ground and tell them you are willing to be around them only as long as they realize that you are a person with feelings too and that you have boundaries that must be honored.

About four years ago I met another agent who literally cried to me over the phone about how abusive her client was to her. I advised her to walk away and refer him to someone else who could deal with his behavior on a less emotional level.

She didn’t want to do that because she needed the business so badly. I told her the money isn’t worth it and if a client is that hard to deal with, they probably would not have given her a good recommendation anyway.

When you are in business for yourself, it is easy to try to hang on to each and every client like our livelihood depends on it; because it does! But our own health and well-being matters the most and should be a priority.

What good is money if you don’t have happy clients and it risks your happiness to earn it?

#2 Stay Away.

Know when to walk away and know when to stay away. Toxic people will usually try to get back in touch with you after a while hoping you will have forgotten their bad behavior.

Don’t fall for it!

If you had to walk away once, you will probably have to do it again so why even go there and waste your time?

Your hope in humanity may provoke you to give them another shot but take it from the 2nd-Chance QUEEN, toxic people rarely ever change! If I allow a toxic person back into my life now it is with very little trust, contact or emotional connection.

Once I realize that someone is toxic I disconnect and remain emotionally disconnected.

#3 Focus your energy on the task at hand.

Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves.

People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as calloused or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negativity.

You can avoid this by setting limits and distancing yourself. Think of it this way: if the person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke?

If you’re not a smoker you’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with poisonous people. For example, a great way to set limits with a complainer is to ask how they intend to fix the problem. They will either hush or redirect the conversation.

Successful people handle things a certain way in order to remain successful.

#4-Don’t fight people.

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You must realize that the person is not your enemy, but rather their behavior is.

Figure out a way to stop their behavior from hurting you and the person in question is no longer an issue. In conflict, unrestrained emotion makes you desire to fight but the battle can leave you emotionally scarred and put a strain on your professional and personal life.

When you realize and respond to your own emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right. Some battles just aren’t worth your time.

#5-Don’t allow it to move you.

Toxic people will drive you crazy if you allow it because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it; their behavior truly goes beyond reason.

Do not allow yourself to respond to them emotionally because you will then get sucked into their drama. The more irrational someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from the situation.

You are not obligated to respond to their outbursts, and when you do respond stick to the facts and only deal with the issues. Do not lower yourself to arguing with them. Tell them like it is and then walk away.

#6-Realize who your support team is.

All successful people have a support team. I can usually tell when I’m the problem as I relate a situation to my husband.

He becomes standoffish and doesn’t boast his opinion right away. This usually lets me know that he is looking for the words to tell me that “I” am the problem.

Maybe it’s the way I am handling it, or the way I am looking at it that has caused me to become too attached to the situation. He is part of my support team and I value his opinion so I allow him to point out when I’m at fault.

I have others who are a part of my support team. I may not need them often (because I’m extremely independent) but I know that when I do, they are there.

#7-Pass the test.

I make it a point to be Judy on the Spot in business but when dealing with a toxic person I remind myself that it’s okay to not respond to a text or a phone call right away.

If a person acts like I owe them something, that is an immediate red flag that says to me, “This person is selfishness, disrespectful, or uncaring of my needs.”

This type of person will test you to see how responsive you are. Even if it is a person in your immediate or extended family, if they get pushy, dominating, controlling, demanding, or show any sign of abusive behavior that would be deemed as toxic, withdraw from those people.

Even if they live with you, you must respect yourself enough to not allow others to disrespect you.

Do NOT be intimidated!

If someone who respects you wants something from you, they will ask for it politely.

It’s okay to take some time to think about your response and make someone “wait” for an answer until you know the right way to answer.

Sometimes it’s best to take a step back and relax before returning a phone call. Even if you’re the kind of person who is on top of your game, always responsive, always have answers, always the go-to for the problem or task at hand; sometimes it’s okay to not be that person.

Sometimes, you need a moment for yourself. I make myself available to my clients 12 hours a day but after 9 pm it is a reasonable time to turn the phone off and be done for the day. I did my job, and I did it well. Clients will understand that my family needs me too and yours will as well.

If you are doing the right thing for yourself and your family, do not question yourself.

It can be easy to allow others to intimidate you into doing things their way, but if you know you are doing what is right then don’t let their bullying persuade you to change who you are and what you’re doing.

I read an article much like this one about toxic people and it said, “What if? statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry.”

I wish I could quote the article exactly and give them credit for it but I honestly don’t remember who wrote it or know where to find it.

Situations can go in many different directions all depending on how well you handle them and how well others respond to you. Focus your energy on handling others in a calm manner. 

Make it a habit to use self-control and don’t constantly question yourself. If a situation has made you uncomfortable, disconnect from it. Give it a day or two to work itself out.

It’s okay to wait.

It’s even okay to take a vacation and leave someone else in charge. It’s not okay to constantly question yourself because if YOU don’t believe in your decisions then who else will? So make wise choices the first time and if you can’t, just wait until you can.

Say NO.

You have the power to say NO in any given situation!

NO sometimes gives you a resolve and a peace of mind. NO feels good. NO makes you a stronger person and allows others to see your strength.

We say yes to clients, contracts, kids, husbands and yes to so many things and so many people you sometimes need to take a step back and say no.

Today make it a priority to say NO to something that you know is emotionally challenging and you will thank me for it! “NO” is okay.

NO puts you back in control, especially when dealing with a toxic person or a toxic situation. Always remember, stay in control. No matter what, staying in control with your words and your reactions is the most important behavior in order to take back control.

When YOU control the situation no one else can have the upper hand!   

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