What are the best strategies for dealing with toxic people in your life? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Every once in a while, try to understand where they are coming from, why they behave the way they do. Not so that you can excuse their inexcusable behavior or become friends with them. But if you understand that the control freak controls out of insecurity or the bully bullies because that's the only kind of interaction she learned as a child, the passive-aggressive person is this way because he is afraid of being exposed and staking his claim, you will sometimes find ways of reducing their need to act like a pain.
Some bullies just need you to bully back once and they stop testing you. Some passive-aggressive people are actually grateful if you spell out what they need and are afraid to say. Then you can start an open and frank discussion about whether or not that will work. Some control freaks will get off your back once you have given your interaction a clear and recognizable structure they can rely on.
I know that sometimes cutting people off or only thinking about them as irrelevant nuisances might be necessary to preserve your own self confidence in the face of toxic behavior. But sometimes what you see as toxic people are just people who are socially inept or choose toxic strategies sometimes and who might be able to change and become bearable colleagues if you give them the benefit of the doubt and actively look for new strategies for dealing with them instead of just relying on your triggered first reaction.
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