Everyone knows a family member, friend, colleague, or neighbor who’s negative. They may not seem this way at first glance, although they transfer their negativity onto others from time to time, which can become problematic.
Often, we feel worse after socializing with them and discover that we’ve been manipulated or, in severe cases, the recipient of verbal abuse or constant blame.
Unfortunately, toxic people exist in every part of society, whether they are successful, appear happy initially, or always seem to have issues with one person or another.
While these individuals are considered toxic, they often offer a problem for every solution. They are also generally negative and provide no constructive input or feedback.
It can be easy to pinpoint those negative people in life, as they make no secret of their lack of support and open criticism of others. In contrast, others are more subtle and have a negative impact over a more extended period of time.
It’s important to recognize the signs of a toxic or negative person before they seriously affect your personal well-being and confidence and how to stay away from negative people.
How to Recognize the Signs of Negative People and Emotional Abuse
One of the most challenging aspects of dealing with toxic people is not just their negative behavior and emotional abuse but it’s the fact that most of these individuals are close family members and people who play critical roles in our everyday life.
While it’s essential to stay away from negative and toxic people, it’s equally important to recognize when someone is simply experiencing a bad day or having a troubling time or season in life, which can cause them to behave in unkind or aggressive ways rather than that person being toxic on a regular basis.
You can often realize the difference when you have known someone for a period of time. However, some people are naturally toxic.
Below we outline the red flags that you need to watch for.
1. Self-Centeredness and Self-Absorption
Toxic people may seem positive on the surface, but essentially, they only care about themselves and how everything affects them. They don’t have empathy for others or care how their criticisms or negativity impact other people.
Everything is about them and getting what they want, whether it’s about receiving all the credit for a team project at work or becoming the most attractive and successful person in their family or community.
In some ways, self-centered people may be seen as inspirational, at least initially, because they may be energetic, charming, charismatic, and project what appears to be a positive persona. In a short time, however, they can make you feel inferior and use any support or contributions offered to them as a way to take greater control, often at the expense of others.
2. Negative People are Manipulative
Negative people are highly manipulative, whether they make outright demands, mistreat people, or use persuasion and subtle techniques to get their way.
They may initially make you feel good with compliments and reassurance but later on use it as bait to get what they want to accomplish their goals. Manipulative people do not seek equality in a relationship and aim to get what they want without reciprocating love or fairness.
Sometimes, if a manipulative person is confronted about their behavior, they may use gaslighting or passive-aggressive tactics to project their behavior onto others.
If this happens to you, it’s best to step back, create some distance between yourself and them, and in some cases, stop communicating with them altogether and leave the situation, as they will not admit any wrongdoing.
However, it is essential to understand that as a result of standing up to them, they may avoid contact with you in the future.
3. They Never Take Responsibility
Taking responsibility for personal actions isn’t always pleasant, although most people recognize the importance of taking accountability for what they do wrong. We understand that it is important to recognize those feelings and acknowledge what we have done.
However, negative people tend to avoid responsibility, and instead, they project their faults or feelings onto others.
For example, feelings of anger and fear experienced by the toxic person are often shifted to someone else. They get the blame for causing the toxic person to experience those emotions.
As previously mentioned, negative individuals will never admit they are wrong, nor will they apologize for any wrongdoing. They expect others to take the fall for their emotional abuse and toxic behavior, while they gaslight others to make them feel responsible for their behavior instead.
Any attempt to hold a negative person responsible will only drain your energy and essentially waste time when the best option is to stay away as much as possible.
4. Inconsistency and Dishonesty
They are inconsistent and often change how they treat other people. They will often switch from behaving kind or friendly one minute to nasty or mean the next. Their attitude and sense of entitlement shine through often, as they feel they are owed something from everyone.
They will play any role that’s necessary within life to get what they want. As long as they achieve their objective, they play nice, but any deviation from their target or goal will cause their behavior to change, resulting in negative reactions and abusive behavior.
Toxic individuals lie often or as much as they need to in order to achieve their goals. They have no regrets about their dishonesty and will do whatever they need to further their own interests.
5. Lack of Motivational Support
Negative people are not loyal, as they only focus on their own essential needs. They suck the life out of others and drain people around them to the point of exhaustion while offering no care or support towards others.
If anything good happens, they take all the credit and have no problem lying or misrepresenting themselves to gain favor, even at the expense of coworkers, friends, and family.
How to Stay Away from Negative People and Their Toxic Behavior
How can negative people be avoided? Sometimes, it’s easy to stay away from toxic individuals while other people are managers at work, family members, or neighbors, and interactions with them are imminent and unavoidable.
When they play a pivotal role in your life, and there’s no way to stay away from negative people, there are some helpful techniques to use when communicating or interacting with them.
1. Recognize the Impact on your Emotions
In small doses, negative people may not be too difficult to interact with, but it’s essential to monitor their behavior closely. Always pay attention to how they make you feel and the emotional impact you have during each interaction.
If it’s a coworker or family member, it’s really essential to monitor their behavior. You may notice unpredictable mood swings and increased negativity when they don’t get their way.
When negative behavior and verbal abuse occur, it’s essential to recognize it immediately and confront the situation. It is important to share personal feelings and the impact of the mistreatment so that it stops.
In most instances, their negativity may only temporarily stop because they do not want to confront their own bad behavior.
They won’t apologize or feel responsible for their actions. Instead, they may make comments about you “being too sensitive” or “not being able to take a joke.”
It is important to remember that everyone has the ability to control their own emotions and don’t think that you are to blame just because someone decides to put the blame on you. This is a common form of gaslighting.
2. Prioritize Your Mental Health and Self Care
Dealing with a toxic individual can take a significant toll on you, especially if the behavior is constant over a long period of time. It’s essential to prioritize self-care and replenish your emotional needs above everything else.
Some negative people give you the idea that they need you and that you need them to improve your life, or other excuses so that you’ll keep in contact with them. When this happens, direct contact often cannot be avoided.
As such, limit your interactions with the negative company, and spend time with positive people who are true to themselves and supportive of you.
3. Limit Your Interactions with Negative People
One of the surest ways that a negative individual knows they can manipulate or control a person is when they are allowed to do so. By limiting the time you spend with them or finding ways to avoid an unnecessary interaction, the negative person will eventually realize that their tactics don’t work effectively.
You can do this by establishing healthy boundaries in the relationship. When you become less available, they are less likely to socialize with you, and you’ll be free of them sooner than expected.
If you create space between yourself and a toxic individual, don’t respond to their every request. Don’t drop everything to be by their side, especially when it is inconvenient for you.
Instead, provide them with an honest and heartfelt excuse as to why you are unavailable. This is an effective way to avoid negative people and their tactics.
You can try some of the following phrases, “I have an early start tomorrow, I need to get going,” or “Sorry, there’s a lot on my schedule today, so I’m not available…”.
Don’t feel the need to elaborate, and if the toxic individual tries to challenge the statement with passive-aggressive behavior, keep in mind that it’s not about you. It is about them not being able to accept that you aren’t there at their beck and call.
Keep the response the same, with a firm “no,” and eventually, they will get the message.
4. Learn to Set Boundaries
The most important aspect of any relationship or friendship, whether it is a toxic relationship or not, is setting boundaries. Everyone should have a limit with which they explicitly decide they no longer want to discuss a particular topic or reveal too much personal information.
In many situations, toxic people may use personal stories or shared experiences against another person in the form of gossip or emotional abuse. Therefore, it is important to set boundaries from the start for any relationship and clarify when a line has been crossed during a conversation.
If anyone challenges personal boundaries, it’s essential to be firm and upfront about it with them. If they continue to push and disrespect these limitations, don’t be afraid to leave the conversation, and the room, to avoid further interaction.
In many ongoing situations with negative people, boundaries will need to be reasserted regularly. They will attempt to find out information from you in sneaky or subtle ways that can lead to mistrust within the relationship and complications in the future.
Unfortunately, negative people will always be an ongoing concern, and there will always be a need for you to stay alert when interacting with them.
Setting boundaries also means limiting the length of time you talk or communicate with them so that you don’t experience the draining, exhaustive effects they have on others. It’s completely acceptable to put your headphones in and walk away when anyone disrespects your personal limitations.
5. Surround Yourself with Positive People
Often, it’s challenging to recognize that someone is negative until they are no longer around. Finding positive colleagues and friends to socialize with makes a significant difference.
Often we let negative people into their lives, only to learn later what they are honestly like, and then it becomes more of a challenge to stay away from negative people.
Albert Einstein is famous for many quotes, including his view of negative people: “Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.”
Once you are free of negative individuals or reach a point in your life where you’ve successfully minimized interactions with them, it’s important to get familiar with the inspirational and positive people in life.
This process may take some time, practice and requires making new connections, such as sharing common ground with positive energy and ideas. It may take you some time to shift towards more uplifting people and situations, though it’s a worthwhile pursuit that improves your life as well as the lives of everyone involved in the long term.
Toxic people will always be a part of life. So, learning how to handle them in everyday situations is key to preventing them from having a negative and lasting impact on your life. It’s crucial to limit interactions and the amount of personal information you share with them.
Try also to stay away from negative people as much as possible, and it will all be worth the effort because you will be so much happier in the long run. The truth is that everyone deserves respect and personal space, which is often disregarded when it comes to negative individuals and their toxic nature.
Focus on keeping company with positive, inspirational people because they can make a significant difference in your life and make it easier to avoid negative individuals moving forward.