Let’s be honest here. Don’t we all have that one toxic person in our circle who kinda makes us cringe? You know the one I’m talking about. Every time they open their mouth nothing good comes out. It’s all negative and it sucks the life right out of you. Are you with me here?
I recall the days when I had to go to family events and I knew Debbie Downer was going to be there. It was the same thing every time. Complain about how horrible her life was, whine about her aches and pains and how no one ever calls her anymore (I wonder why Debbie).
And what about Tammy Taker? It’s all about her. How wonderful her life is. And her brand new Coach purse. And how she just got a promotion. Oh, and can you do her a favour because she is just too busy and important now but you obviously have lots of time and it would be your privilege to help her out.
She doesn’t care about you one teeny bit. She’s the star of the show (sit down Tammy, please).
We certainly can’t forget about Heather Hater. She hates every.single.person.in.the.world. Not only that. She wants to make sure you hate them too! Chances are Heather probably hates herself as well but she doesn’t want you to know that.
And then there’s Greta Gossip. All she ever wants to do is talk crap about people. She loves to dig deep into everyone’s business; twist stories, make up her own version and then spread rumours like wildfire.
These negative people are selfish, life sucking energy vampires.
We all know at least one. And sometimes they aren’t just acquaintances we can easily swipe/delete/ghost out of our lives. They may be family. That is when it gets real tough to handle.
The question now is how to deal with them?
- Do we just ignore/steer clear of them at events?
- Do we carry on pretending everything is normal and thus give the impression that you are ok with their behaviour?
- Do we continue to go on people pleasing to avoid confrontation?
- Do we say nothing, nod our heads in agreement and kick ourselves later for letting the pattern repeat.
- Do we stop attending functions altogether to avoid bumping into these people?
How you choose to handle these negative people in your life is a very personal choice. And you must understand that even if you do take a stand and do something different, there’s no guarantee that they will get the message that you are tired of their circus of negativity.
On the other hand, ignoring them isn’t going to make them go away, stop their toxic behaviour or stop you from feeling like crap every time you are put in a situation with them. The cycle of behaviour will go on forever unless you deal with it and them appropriately and effectively. And chances are, others are feeling the same way too.
I’m going to share a few tips with you on how you can do that so they get the picture, once and for all, and their behaviour stops (or they decide not to attend family gatherings anymore).
How to deal with difficult people
Let’s start with Debbie Downer
The constant whiner and complainer. The minute she opens her mouth you already know nothing good is going to come out of it. Let her spew her first batch of toxicity and then before she has a chance to go on, try saying something like this:
“Hey Debbie, you know you’ve been complaining about this for forever. Are you doing anything about it to change it? Are you working on self improvement?”
“Hey Debbie, how about we talk about happy positive things today? We already know all about how horrible things are, let’s talk about some good things in your life”?
If she persists and neither of these tactics work then politely and firmly tell her you aren’t really interested in the conversation anymore and walk away. Just like that. That’ll give her food for thought.
Debbie Downer will continue to whine and complain as long as she has an audience. Once her audience leaves her, it’s over for her.
It’s all about her. She sucks the life right out of you. Much like Debbie Downer, as long as she has an audience, she will go on and on and on… 5 minutes with her and you are emotionally drained. Tammy loves to talk about herself but in a nauseating bragging way. It is all about her, her accomplishments and what you can do to enhance her life. Trust me, she will take advantage of your time and patience if you let her.
Next time you get cornered by Tammy and she starts bragging about how much money she makes or something like that, try this:
“That’s great Tammy. I’m so happy for you. This is the perfect time in your life to pay it forward. Do you support any charities?”
Or this (this one is rather bold but super effective):
“That’s great Tammy but honestly, it’s tiring to listen to you talk about yourself all the time. Can we talk about something else please?” Told you it was bold, but trust me, she’ll get the message, loud and clear.
Or if you are repeatedly asked to do favours for Tammy that you don’t really want or have the time to do:
No is a complete sentence and requires no explanation. If you feel the need to soften it up, add “Sorry, I’m busy with work, family, or my own damn life.” Pick one.
I have a love/hate relationship with Greta. I hate that she talks about people all the time but I love shutting her down. Such fun! In my opinion, Greta is the easiest one to deal with. Once you speak your truth, she has nothing to come back with. It’s awesome.
So next time Greta starts up with some people bashing, just do this:
“Greta, please, can we not talk about other people all the time? We’re not perfect, it’s disrespectful and boring. I don’t care what’s going on with Dan and Sue’s relationship. It’s none of our business. Please stop. Let’s talk about something fun instead please”.
She will stop dead in her tracks. She may snub her nose at you. She may even then go find someone else to talk to and talk about you. That’s ok. Bye Greta.
Dealing with a toxic relationship
It’s not that hard to deal with the negative people in your life. When you confront them in a very diplomatic way, they do get the message that you are no longer willing to play ball. They may not like it but you will feel better knowing that you did your part to put an end to the toxic people in your life. You do have a choice. You do not have to listen to negativity or be a part of a conversation that brings you down. No matter how closely related the difficult person may be.
If we don’t use our voices or speak our truth about their negative behaviour, it will never end. Change starts with one person. That one person can be you. The rest of the family will thank you for it.
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