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12 ways successful people handle toxic people

To deal with toxic people effectively you need to have an approach that allows you to control what you can and eliminate what you can't.

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This article was translated from our Spanish edition. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Toxic people defy logic . Some are fortunate not to know the negative impact they have on those around them while others seem to take pleasure in pushing others to the limit. Either way, they are responsible for creating unnecessary complexity and stress.

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Research has shown that stress has a long-term negative impact on our brain. Being exposed to a few days of stress, no matter how few, jeopardizes the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus , an important area of the brain that is responsible for reasoning and memory.

Spending several weeks stressed causes irreversible damage to neural connections - those little arms that brain cells use to communicate with each other - and stress that lasts for months can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a huge threat to your success , because when it takes you out of control, both your brain and your performance suffer.

Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your nonprofit is working to ensure what it needs to function, chances are you're feeling stressed, but you know how to handle it. However, it is the unexpected sources of stress that surprise and harm us. And those sources can be your bosses, your colleagues or your clients. Whether it's negativity, cruelty, victim syndrome, or just plain insanity, toxic people put your brain in such a stressed state that no one should ever experience it.

The Whitehall II study followed the lives of more than 10,000 subjects for 12 years and found that people in toxic relationships are at higher risk for heart problems such as fatal cardiac arrests.

Although I have come across numerous effective strategies that successful people use to deal with toxic people, what follows are the 12 best ones. To deal with toxic people effectively you need an approach that allows you to control what you can and cannot eliminate. The important thing to remember is that you have more control than you think.

Here are methods that people use successfully to prevent the behavior of others from affecting them or affecting their work.

1. They limit the time they spend with chronic complainers

Complainers and negative people are always bad news because they wrap you up in their problems and don't focus on solutions. They want people to join their sad party so they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to them because they don't want to sound rude, but there is a fine line between lending a kind ear and letting emotional negativity drag you down its spiral.

You can avoid this by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think about it like this: if the complaining person were smoking, would you sit there and smoke what he leaves behind? You would put distance and it is the same that you should do with people who complain. A great way to set boundaries is to ask complainers how they intend to solve the problem, and they will most likely shut up or redirect the conversation to something more productive.

2. They choose their battles with toxic people well.

Successful people know how important it is to live another day, especially when you have toxic people around you. When you're in conflict, a mishandled emotion can cause you to stumble and end up fighting a battle that can leave you hurt. When you read and respond to your emotions you can choose your battles wisely and only go out to fight when necessary.

3. They don't get hooked on irrational behaviors

Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. And make no mistake, their behavior really goes against reason, so why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get hooked on the madness?

The more irrational and out of place someone is, the easier it should be for you to avoid them. Stop wanting to beat them. Put emotional distance and consider your interactions with them as if they were a science project (or as if you were their psychologist, if you prefer). You don't need to respond to emotional chaos, just the facts.

4. They don't let people manipulate them

Keeping your emotional distance requires you to be mindful. You can't stop someone from wanting to manipulate you if you don't know they are doing it. There will be situations where you need to regroup and choose the best way to continue, and that's okay, you shouldn't be afraid to give yourself time.

Think of it this way, if a mentally unstable person approached you on the street and asked you about Porfirio Díaz, most likely you would tell him things clearly.

When you meet a like-minded partner, there are times when it is best to smile and say yes to everything. And if you are going to have to correct them, give yourself time to plan the best way to do it.

5. They set limits

In this area is where we fall most short. People feel that because they work or live with someone they cannot control the chaos. And this couldn't be further from the truth. Even if you work closely with someone, that doesn't mean you have to interact with them the way you do with other people.

You can set limits , but you must do it consciously and proactively. If you let things flow naturally, you will most likely find yourself embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set limits and decide when and where to interact with that difficult person, you can control the chaos. The trick is to keep your limits in place at all times.

6. They don't allow others to limit their happiness.

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction comes from the opinion of other people, you lose control of your happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something they did, they don't allow anyone else's opinion to take that feeling away from them.

Although it is impossible to turn off what you feel in the face of the opinions of others, you do not have to compare yourself and you can always consider their point of view as a pinch of salt. That way, no matter how toxic people are or what they do, your value comes from yourself. Regardless of what people think, one thing is for sure: you are never as good or as bad as they say you are .

7. Focus on solutions, not problems

Your concentration determines your emotional state. When you focus more on the problems you have, you create negative emotions and prolonged stress. When you focus on actions to improve you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.

When it comes to toxic people, focusing on how difficult they are gives them power over you. Stop thinking about how troublesome a person is and focus on how to handle them. This puts you in control and reduces the stress you feel when you interact with her.

8. They forgive, but do not forget

Emotionally intelligent people forgive quickly, but don't forget. Forgiveness involves letting go to move on, but it doesn't ensure that you won't be hurt again. Smart people are not drained by the mistakes of others, they let go of them quickly, and they are assertive in protecting themselves from future attacks.

9. They don't get hooked on self-criticism

Sometimes you absorb the negativity of others. And it is not bad to feel sad about how someone else treats you, but your internal conversation should not intensify that negativity, but rather help you overcome it. Self-criticism is usually not as realistic or necessary, because it can make you fall down a spiral that is difficult to get out of. Avoid the.

10. Avoid caffeine

Drinking caffeine generates adrenaline, the source of the “fight or flight” response that we have as a survival mechanism that forces you to get up to fight or run when you encounter a threat. This mechanism bypasses rational thinking and forces a faster response. This is perfect when a bear is chasing you, but less so when you meet an angry partner in the hallway.

11. They get enough sleep

I have fought about this for years and I cannot express the enormous importance of sleep for increasing emotional intelligence and managing stress levels.

When you sleep, your brain recharges itself, literally analyzing the memories of the day and storing or throwing away those that do not serve it so that you wake up alert and with a clear mind. Your self-control, your attention, and your memory are reduced when you don't get enough sleep , or when you don't sleep well. Lack of sleep raises the stress hormone, even when there are no stressors present.

A good night's sleep makes you a more positive, creative, and practical person when it comes to interacting with toxic people, giving you the perspective you need to handle them effectively.

12. They depend on their family and friends

It's tempting, but totally ineffective, to try to do it all by yourself. To handle toxic people you need to recognize the weaknesses you have , which means having a support system to get a better perspective on that troubled person. We all have a team, inside and outside the office, that supports us and is ready to help us in a difficult situation. Identify these people and seek their opinion and help when you need it. Sometimes it is so simple that it can lead you to have a new perspective on everything.

Travis Bradberry

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Dr. Travis Bradberry is the bestselling author of The Seagull Manager and a LinkedIn Influencer with more than 2.5 million followers. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the Harvard Business Review.