Narcissists, sociopaths, "Negative Nellies", and other toxic people slowly suck the life out of others, although they don't always do so consciously or with any ill intent. Subsequently, staying joyful and reaching your goals often means putting an end to the subtle ways they shut you down. Popular manipulation tactics toxic people use include:

1. Gaslighting -- The toxic person uses phrases like "You're too sensitive" or "It didn't happen that way" to make you doubt yourself and question what you deserve.

2. Elaboration -- The toxic person gives huge responses to appear smarter or more skilled than you, but what they say might lack relevancy or bounce around from point to point.

3. Tonal Messaging -- What the toxic person says is perfectly acceptable in terms of words or phrasing, but how they say those words and phrases communicates something hurtful.

4. Downsiding -- Every time you try to be positive or talk about the good happening to you, the toxic person rains on your parade, pointing out the "yeah, but" considerations or responding with "Are you sure..."

5. Identity Shaming -- The toxic person constantly comes up with something negative to say about what you love or do so that, eventually, you feel ashamed of what makes you you.

6. Generalizing -- Rather than take the time to get facts and acknowledge all the subtleties that can make an argument more complex, toxic individuals make blanket statements that defy rationalization, typically in an accusatory or judgmental way. They treat "never" and "always" as some of their favorite words.

7. 180 Deflection -- Rather than take responsibility or face difficult conversations, a toxic individual tries to turn the focus to what you did, or they try to get you to focus on a different "real" issue.

8. Goal Shifting -- A toxic person continuously requires you meet new, often unanticipated and unrelated expectations so that you never know if you've made progress or are good enough.

9. Push and Pull -- The toxic person pushes against limits you've set, just to see what your reaction will be. Then they get you to forgive them with gifts, promises or other sweet talk. Once they've pulled you back to them, they push again to extend the new boundary even further, slowly taking away your self-respect and control.

10. Pressure Valving -- The toxic person offers to handle certain tasks or jobs for you so as to "relieve your stress". Then they keep information about those tasks or jobs from you so you're no longer able to approach them independently, or they make jabs about your competence, saying you "need" them to do the work for you.

If someone's contaminating your life with these types of behaviors, don't stand for the abuse--the stress quite literally can hurt your brain and health. Using "I feel" statements, pressing for facts, rewarding yourself, saying "no", following through with warned consequences, focusing on solutions and simply walking away are all valid ways to show a toxic person you mean business.

Published on: Jul 21, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.