• 22nd October 2008 - By proteman

    Several months ago I blogged about “toxic people”. The concept of people being toxic is not a new one. Books with titles “Emotional Vampires”, “Toxic People” and “Nasty People” show the popularity of the topic and people’s hunger for strategies for dealing with these people.

    These people.

    Since writing my earlier blogs, I’ve shifted my thinking a bit. I’m currently working on a webinar for Stanford University on this topic – and I like that someone suggested changing the title from “Toxic People” to “Toxic Behaviors”.

    Initially I accomodated, recognizing that a University must be politically correct. However, the more I’ve played with the concepts, the more I’ve grown to prefer the term “toxic behaviors”.

    Labeling people as emotional vampires or toxic people can be, in itself, unhealthy. Can people really be toxic? Or is it their emotionally draining, negative behavior that’s toxic?

    If you must work or live with someone who’s behavior is “toxic”, you’ve got to figure out a strategy for getting along with them. If you write someone off as being bad or toxic, there’s not much you can do. The problem becomes out of your control. It’s those people who are the problem.

    You can address people’s bad behavior. By asking yourself, “How can I cope with this person’s toxic behavior, so it doesn’t affect me negatively?” – you give yourself some control over the situation. You’re not powerless.

    A key strategy for working or living with toxic behavior, I have found, is trying to empathize with the person whose behavior is negative. I doubt that people are born with toxic behavior. I’ve never seen a toxic infant. People become critical, negative and nasty for a reason. Empathizing – recognizing that the person isn’t bad, but their behavior is – may help you stay cool and protect you from taking their behavior personally.

    What do you think?

    Copyright 2008. Phyllis Roteman. The Loyalty Group. Sherman Oaks, CA.

  • Leave a Reply