Dealing with Toxic People at Work
When dealing with a person who exhibits condensing, manipulative or toxic behaviors, remember, their need to exert power and control is more about them than it is about you. People who desire control over others often have deep-seated insecurity issues that they are projecting on others. Don’t take on their issues. You control YOU. Your power cannot be taken from you.
Here are five things to remember as you manage your response and bring a position of inner strength to a challenging work relationship.
- Prepare yourself for interactions. If possible, take time to consider how you will interact. For example, if you know you will be in a meeting with someone who triggers you, take time before the meeting to visualize how you will respond. Consider what you will say and how you want to show up. Visualize yourself in a position of strength.
- Before you speak, take a deep breath and allow a few moments of silence. It can be normal to respond from an emotional place. A deep breath allows you to slow down and intentionally trigger your thinking part of the brain before you speak. Offering a few minutes of silence before responding indicates you are not being rattled.
- Get in a physical stance. Your body can help you. Stand tall (or sit up tall if you are in a chair), and push your shoulders back, head, and chin up. Make eye contact. Feel the power in your body. Let your body help you step into your response.
- Be intentional with “self-talk.” It is common when faced with aggressive or manipulative behaviors to jump into fight or flight. As you slow down your reaction, be mindful to put thoughts in your head that serve you. For example, silently speak your mantra:“ I am a smart, competent person, and I am not responding from emotion. I will contribute logically and use my wisdom and knowledge to move us forward. I will use my power to focus on the real issue at hand.”
- Don’t beat yourself up. When faced with a challenging personality, it is a normal human response to feel stress. These situations are not easy and take continuous practice. Seek out others to support you, keep practicing and lean into your growth as you are navigating the uncomfortable. By mastering how to deal with difficult personalities, you can help others and multiply your impact.