This is How Smart People Handle Toxic People

This is How Smart People Handle Toxic People
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

The way that smart people handle toxic people says a lot about their psychological abilities. They don’t let themselves be steamrolled. They know how to set limits and they’re aware of the impact that damaging relationships can have on their well-being. One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is learning how to manage those who fit this profile.Some sociologists and experts in social psychology go as far as to say that we live in highly toxic times. We’ve gotten used to always hearing this term and sometimes we don’t know where it applies. Now, if there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that we live in a time defined by instability and uncertainty. This pervades our daily routines and environments.

On that note, studies have revealed that the environment most susceptible to toxic behavior is the workplace. It’s especially true in professional settings where productivity is high-stakes. Competition, distrust, envy, and frustration emerge here, as well as personal conflicts that threaten the systemic well-being of the entire organization.

Now, as we know, these relationships can also be present in the family sphere. Some examples are people who, whether because of personality or situation, exhibit harmful behavior towards their children or partners. In this scenario, the impact and damage can be even greater because there’s an additional emotional component. There’s an extra closeness.

Toxic people.

How do smart people deal with toxic people?

The answer has multiple components. Firstly, there’s the simple and clear assumption that any toxic behavior is illogical. Understanding this will help a lot. This way, we can worry less about acts and words that make no sense. These things almost exclusively project discomfort, frustration, and negative emotions towards others.

There’s a second aspect we can’t forget about. The Department of Clinical Psychology and Biology at the Freidrich Schiller University Jena in Germany released a study. It showed that continual exposure to these dynamics affects our brain health.

Due to this, we experience higher levels of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion and we have a harder time concentrating and thinking clearly. Remembering this detail from the start will encourage us to establish appropriate limits. We can learn how to manage toxic people by using the following key ideas.

Focus on solutions, not problems

We know that it’s good to be able to respond effectively. However, what kind of action should we undertake to fight toxic behavior? Well, we have to know that, in these cases, it’s not always worth running. It also might not be possible to put physical distance between yourself and the offender.

You have to set limits and protective barriers. In order to do this, we have to make it clear to the person in question that their actions have consequences. Not everything is permissible. Some behavior causes damage and creates unhealthy environments.

We have to make it clear early on where we’re drawing our lines and which lines we won’t let them cross.

Heart and brain.

Emotional control

We have to be fully conscious of our emotional states. If we feel exhausted or worn down psychologically, we have to address the situation. Firstly, it’s important to understand that no one has any reason to take away our happiness or peace of mind. Secondly, we can’t attribute too much importance to someone who simply hasn’t earned their spot in our lives.

Since physical distance isn’t always possible, setting emotional limits is the better choice. Therefore, we have to open up our umbrellas and protect ourselves.

Cognitive empathy when dealing with toxic people

Applying cognitive empathy is always preferable to emotional empathy in these cases. What does that mean? It’s good to be capable of understanding whatever the toxic person is going through. Maybe behind the surface, past the damaging dynamics, there’s someone going through depression, low self-esteem, or personal problems.

Cognitive empathy allows us to understand that reality without letting our emotions distract us from doing what needs to be done. This is so incredibly important and it defines the approach that smart people take when dealing with toxic people.

Sunset pose.

Taking care of your health and well-being

There might be one or more toxic people around us. There are ways to handle them effectively. However, there’s something we can’t lose sight of: our own health. We have to prioritize our nutrition, rest, and recreation.

Learning to disconnect and to not worry about those who fit these psychological profiles will allow us to improve our quality of life. That’s not easy, especially when talking about people who are experts at getting under our skin. However, we still have to do it. Being an intelligent person means knowing how to live under these circumstances.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.