Dealing with toxic people is undoubtedly one of life’s greatest challenges. Their negativity and destructive behavior can drain your energy and leave you feeling helpless. However, with the right tools and strategies, you can protect yourself and maintain your emotional well-being. People with high emotional intelligence have honed their skills in managing their emotions when faced with toxic individuals. They possess invaluable coping strategies that effectively neutralize the impact of toxic people in their lives.

Through my encounters with emotionally intelligent individuals, I’ve discovered nine powerful habits they employ when dealing with toxic people. These habits serve as a shield, enabling them to navigate challenging relationships while preserving their inner peace. In this post, I’ll share with you these time-tested strategies that will empower you to stand strong against toxic influences.  

Set limits:

Toxic individuals often thrive on negativity and complain incessantly. To protect yourself, it’s crucial to set boundaries and distance yourself from their toxic conversations. Encourage them to focus on solutions rather than wallowing in problems. By gently asking them how they intend to fix the issue, you redirect the conversation towards productivity or prompt them to quiet down.

Don’t die in the fight: 

Emotional intelligence teaches us the importance of choosing our battles wisely. Instead of allowing unchecked emotions to escalate conflicts, emotionally intelligent individuals know when to stand their ground and when to retreat. It’s about preserving your well-being and engaging in productive battles only when necessary. By reading and responding to your emotions, you can make a conscious choice about when and how to engage with toxic individuals.

Stay aware of your emotions: 

Maintaining emotional distance requires self-awareness. Recognize when toxic people are pushing your buttons and take a step back to regroup. Buying yourself time to respond appropriately is a wise move. Sometimes, you may find yourself in situations where you need to take a moment to regain your composure and choose the best course of action. Just like when a mentally unstable person approaches you on the street claiming to be someone they’re not, it’s best to give yourself time to plan the most effective response.

Rise above irrationality: 

Toxic behavior is often driven by irrationality. Emotionally intelligent individuals refuse to be sucked into the chaos. By focusing on facts and not allowing themselves to be emotionally triggered, they detach themselves from the irrationality of toxic individuals. They recognize that trying to beat toxic people at their own game is futile. Instead, they choose to respond to the facts and disengage from the emotional chaos.

Establish boundaries:

Contrary to popular belief, you have control over the chaos caused by toxic people. Recognize patterns in their behavior and decide when and where you’ll engage with them. Establish clear boundaries to protect your emotional well-being and maintain control over the interaction. For example, even if you work closely with someone on a project team, you don’t have to have the same level of one-on-one interaction with them as you do with your other team members. Consciously and proactively set boundaries to avoid getting constantly embroiled in difficult conversations.

Focus on solutions, not problems: 

Your attention determines your emotional state. Dwelling on problems only prolongs negativity and stress. Emotionally intelligent individuals shift their focus to actionable solutions. By redirecting your energy towards handling toxic individuals, you regain control and reduce stress. Instead of fixating on how troubling the toxic person is, focus on how you’re going to handle them effectively. This change in mindset puts you in control and minimizes the emotional toll of interacting with toxic individuals.

Don’t forget, but forgive: 

Emotionally intelligent individuals understand the power of forgiveness, but they also remember past transgressions. Forgiveness is about releasing the negative emotions tied to the experience, not necessarily giving someone another chance to harm you. Protect yourself by being assertive and learning from the past. While emotionally intelligent individuals are quick to forgive, they do not forget. They use past experiences as lessons to set boundaries and protect themselves from future harm.

Utilize your support system: 

Trying to handle toxic people alone is ineffective. Tap into your support system, those individuals who cheer you on and provide valuable perspective. Seek their guidance when faced with challenging relationships. Their fresh outlook can shed light on solutions you may have overlooked due to emotional investment. By explaining the situation and seeking their insight, you gain new perspectives and potential strategies for dealing with toxic people. Sometimes, others can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation as you are.

Practice self-care: 

Dealing with toxic people can take a toll on your well-being. Emotionally intelligent individuals prioritize self-care to maintain their resilience. They engage in activities that bring them joy, practice mindfulness, and ensure they have time for rest and rejuvenation. Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally allows you to build the strength necessary to face toxic individuals without compromising your own well-being.

By adopting these habits of emotionally intelligent individuals, you can fortify yourself against toxic influences. Embrace these strategies as your armor, enabling you to navigate difficult relationships with resilience and grace. This will allow you to move forward on a journey towards reclaiming your emotional well-being and finding peace amidst toxic environments. Remember, you have the power to protect yourself and thrive, even in the presence of toxic people.

These strategies were adapted from the new book, “Emotional Intelligence Habits” by Dr. Travis Bradberry–best-selling author of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” and co-founder of TalentSmartEQ.  The book is now available for pre-order. 

TalentSmartEQ is uniquely focused on helping organizations become collaborative, high-performing and human-centric through Emotional Intelligence training.  If you would like to incorporate Emotional Intelligence Habits into your organization’s training programs, please contact us.