Toxic people can quickly drain you of your energy. But unfortunately, they know just how to get under your skin, and because of their malicious intent, they often find ways to outsmart the kindness of decent, well-intentioned people around them.
Trying to play the mind games of a toxic person can be tiring. So instead, you can find ways to get a one-up on them and leave them floundering in a mess of their own making. Here are four ways to outsmart toxic people.
1. Avoid And Ignore Toxic People
The easiest way to outsmart toxic people is simply not engaging in their shenanigans. Toxic people thrive off your reactions to them, as these reactions fuel the fire and allow them to exploit and manipulate you. So your best bet in almost all cases is to ignore toxic people, which ensures they have nothing to work with. This usually frustrates them, but it’s in your best interest. Ignoring them empowers you to retain your sense of compassion and kindness instead of adding fuel to the fire.
Don’t Get Involved In The Drama Of Toxic People
Petty feuds, drama, and gossip follow toxic people like moths to a flame. So it can feel tempting to listen in on rumors and whispers about petty goings-on. Still, the temporary pleasure of being involved in gossip is quickly outweighed by the negativity that comes with it.
People who like to gossip are always looking for a new rumor to spread, so stay out of it and share nothing juicy with them. Research shows that gossip can be beneficial in situations where cooperation is necessary. However, toxic people do not view you as a team member or trusted person, which means you won’t get any of the social benefits of the practice. It won’t end well!
Don’t Give Attention-Seekers Attention
Toxic people often try to grab all the attention possible. They can’t stand someone else becoming the center of their current focus. Did someone get a promotion? Is it someone’s birthday or anniversary? Is someone grieving a terrible loss? It doesn’t matter, as toxic people will do everything possible to make it about them. They’ll act out, interrupt other people, be unnecessarily obnoxious, and get progressively more destructive over time.
Even negative attention is a win for an attention-seeking toxic person, so they may throw tantrums, start arguments, or manufacture conflict to get the spotlight back on them. Don’t give them satisfaction and focus entirely on the people who deserve to have some attention on them. Simply ignore toxic people and don’t take their bait.
Don’t Fall For False Kindness
Many toxic people will try to win people over by offering them kindness, compliments, and affectionate gestures. But be wary of this, as you can’t accept what someone is incapable of giving. Toxic people do this to get on your good side, take advantage of you, or because they perceive you as a threat. So pay attention to how they treat other people and act accordingly.
Avoid Toxic People Altogether
Once you have determined that someone is toxic, your best bet is to avoid them. Some people can show kindness to those with harmful traits, as most toxic people are insecure or have numerous personal struggles that they project onto others. While this is a perfectly noble thought process, it’s also not worth following most of the time. Toxic people must take the initiative to change and grow independently, and no one else can truly help them or fix them unless they put in their effort first.
2. Recognize Less Stereotypical Forms Of Toxicity
You can’t outsmart toxic people unless you’re able to recognize signs of toxicity. While some harmful people will display their negative traits in obvious and easy-to-spot ways, many opt for subtler approaches. Common ideas of toxicity are often almost movie-like in their outward obviousness, but in real life, people are less likely to take the stereotypical “mean girls” approach.
In addition, learning to recognize different types of toxicity allows you to tailor your approach to them to outsmart the toxic people perpetrating these actions. Here are some forms of toxicity to take note of:
There are plenty of cynical individuals who are not toxic people. Indeed, some toxic people are so cynical that their negative view of the world around them pollutes every interaction, leading to a decrease in positivity in the environment. This makes them hard to be around.
They may complain excessively, constantly mistrust others, and fail to provide positive things in their relationships. You may also feel like you can never do enough to satisfy them. Studies show that excessive cynicism can negatively affect well-being, which is why these individuals tend to have such a sour view of the world and so much insecurity.
Hot Tempers Indicate Toxic People
Many people are hot-tempered and unhealthy, but there are still plenty of toxic people with anger issues. Worse still, many people, especially men in positions of power or authority, tend to get away with anger. Sometimes, this is excused as passion, stress, or dominance, even when it goes too far.
Hot tempers become dangerous when constant anger is present or someone unfairly directs their outrage at certain people. Their ire may fly at you over the slightest perceived error on your part. This can sometimes escalate to threats, loud voices, hostile questions, interrogations, and intense language.
Anyone Who Drains Your Kindness and Mental Health
Sometimes, you may have trouble pinpointing the exact trait that makes someone toxic. For example, some toxic people are manipulative and savvy enough that you may think they’re perfectly upstanding individuals and may not realize their impact on others. So pay attention to how you feel around the people around you.
Do you feel drained after spending time with them on a level beyond normal tiredness? Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells? Does this person make you feel smaller or less important? Don’t dismiss these red flags.
3. Regulate Your Emotions Around Toxic People
Emotional regulation is a tremendous skill that everyone should learn, and this skill will be put to the test when you’re dealing with toxic people. Many toxic people know how to push your buttons and make you angry or sad, once again aiming to get your reaction.
When you know how to regulate and manage your emotions, you can avoid giving toxic people the desired reactions. Here are some tips:
Remain Aware Of Your Feelings
Emotions get better when we stop paying close attention to them. Therefore, it’s crucial to remain aware of your feelings around negativity. First, stay mindful of how they affect you and act and react accordingly. Then, when you notice your feelings start to run off, take a break to collect yourself and identify the source of each emotion.
Stay Grounded In Your Innate Happiness
Ground yourself by focusing on your body and surroundings when someone upsets you. Notice tense muscles, relax them, and pay close attention to your breathing as you gently and slowly deepen each breath. Release any obvious signs of tension, such as a clenched jaw or fist, and allow the toxic person’s upsetting words to fade into the background while you focus on your happy place. Anything you say in anger will violate your standards of kindness–you will regret it later!
Pick Your Battles
Some hills are not worth dying on, and any hill built by a toxic person is likely a waste of time to climb. So stand up for yourself against bullying and reinforce your boundaries, but don’t let yourself get dragged into tiresome arguments that ultimately go nowhere.
Focus On Rationality
Don’t lose sight of reality when working with a toxic person. Instead, focus on working toward solutions and being practical. It’s important not to slip away from concentrating on goals and how to get there. The same goes for your thoughts relating to a toxic person. It’s hard to be rational and objective if you care about them, so stick to the facts and focus on what you know instead of on “what ifs” and hope. It sounds harsh, but you’re better off being objective and acting only on certain facts.
4. Let Toxic People Reveal Themselves
Because toxic people can be manipulative, it’s a common belief that they’re almost akin to masterminds that are always three steps ahead. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Just like everyone else, toxic people are human beings. They’re fallible, and, for the most part, they tend to be insecure and alarmingly vulnerable.
If you don’t play into their hands, their true nature is always revealed eventually. Here are some things to keep in mind so you can outsmart toxic people by letting them reveal themselves:
Let Their Lies Trip Them Up
It is tough to keep track of just one lie to keep a story straight, let alone several. However, toxic people will eventually trip up and accidentally contradict themselves. You can point out the contradiction and watch their web of lies crumble.
Don’t Explain Yourself
You don’t owe toxic people an explanation. Often, trying to over-explain a situation makes you look guiltier or allows them to manipulate you or twist your arm. “No” is a full sentence, so simply say “no.” A toxic person frustrated with not getting their way will show signs of toxicity when you are unmoved by their efforts.
Ask For Simple, Straight Answers
Toxic people use vague statements and responses to trip up the people around them. Instead of playing guessing games and filling in the blanks for them, act oblivious and request clarifications. So many things toxic people are going for sound ridiculous when voiced out loud, and toxic people know that hence their desire to be cryptic. You take that power away from them by only acting on explicitly stated things.
Final Thoughts On Mastering How To Outsmart Toxic People While Keeping Your Own Kindness
Toxicity allows some people to get what they want. Learning to outsmart them will quickly show them that you won’t fall prey to their games and shenanigans. You’ll keep your peace of mind and stay true to your sense of kindness when you respond using these techniques.