• Dealing with Toxic People

    Plautus once wrote, "Nothing but Heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend."

    The truth of the matter is that we all go through life with people with whom we share friendships, but when we need genuine friends, they are scarce. The sad truth is that, when you reach the end of this journey called "life", you will very likely look back and count on one hand the number of true friends you had during this journey.

    It is unfortunate, but a lot of people who claim to be friends would not suffer the slightest twinge upon hearing of your own misfortune. They may express dismay, and even hug you, as they reach around and plunge the metaphorical knife in your back.

    Just as painful, if not more so, is the so-called "friend" who loves to spread malicious gossip about you or your family or Bussiness. This person commonly uses such platforms as Facebook or other social media to post vague comments that are obvious references to you, but which do not name you by name. This passive-aggressive method of back-stabbing is chosen many times because the one being attacked cannot respond directly to the attack because no names were mentioned, giving the author of the post the excuse of saying "Oh, I wasn't talking about YOU", despite the obvious. Trust your instincts when you believe there is more going on in the alley ways of the internet, the nature of false or exagerated claims is that direct confrontation will result in the discrediting of the source. The truly evil acquaintances will never create a record of the poision and chose to make off hand remarks that imply sinister deeds and reason for distrust. Your good friends will aproach you and let you Know what is being said so that you might clear the air. But fair weather friends will follow any drama dog that will hunt.

    Then, there are the mutial friends who loathe each other, which can place you in an awkward position of feeling as though you must side with one or the other in order to preserve your friendship with both.

    Even more painful can be those situations in which blood relatives or in-laws engage in similar behaviors which are emotionally painful or professionally Detrimental to you.

    We will discuss each of these scenarios and hopefully give you the tools and fortitude needed to identify these toxic people, survive the invisible daggers, and thrive in spite of them.

    The Back-Stabber
    Usually, the back-stabber's tool of choice is gossip, preferably malicious. This person thrives on the misery of others, sometimes making up false accusations when there are insufficient genuine ones upon which to pounce.

    This person is easy to recognize, because he or she always has something malicious to say about other people, to you. This person is eager to tell you all about the problems of trials of someone else, usually in a judgmental tone of disapproval. The gossip can sometimes be conveyed in a tone of concern, as if the gossiper is not actually gossiping, but make no mistake - this is gossip, and it hurts others. And, the gossiper will just as surely inflict this pain on you as well, given the opportunity.

    Dealing with the back-stabber is difficult because confrontation will only fuel the fire. You cannot win by confronting a back-stabber or malicious gossiper any more than you can win an argument with a pig. The best method for dealing with a person such as this is to place as much distance between him/her and yourself as possible. If you must be in close proximity to this person, such as in your job, you may have no choice but to gently, but firmly, establish boundaries. Since you are in a work-related environment, no one can fault you for saying something such as "Could we talk about this another time? I am really busy right now." Be sure to smile pleasantly as you say it, and keep this as your standard answer. The back-stabber will soon figure out that you are not an enthusiastic audience and move on.

    Because you witnessed the back-stabber's attempt to knife someone else, you can pretty much rest assured that he or she will do the same to you. The first thing you need to do is accept the fact that this is something that you do not have the power to change. The only thing you can control is the way in which you react to it. Choose to live in such a way that, when the back-stabber spreads malicious rumors about you, no one will believe him or her.

    When the back-stabber's knife is social media, such as Facebook, it is just as malicious, hurtful, and damaging. If the person is a "friend" on Facebook, then you should "un-friend" that person, then block him or her so that you no longer see the comments. If the social media is Twitter, then detach from following. Again - it is crucial to remember that you cannot control another person's actions, but you do have the power to control your own. Just as you would not willingly walk into a fire, but would do everything possible to stay away from it, so it should be with toxic people on social media.

    In-Laws and Problems With Family Members
    In-laws pose a special and unique opportunity for relationship problems. Some families tend to be clannish and can make someone who has married into the family feel like an interloper. This may, or may not, be intentional.

    Family members who are blood relatives also struggle with issues of jealousy, low self-esteem, and feeling the need to compete.

    When dealing with hostile in-laws, the old adage that says "Kill them with kindness" truly has merit. If you are the newbie to the family, then take steps to let your in-laws know that you are not a threat to their family unit, but that you wish to be a part of them. You can do this by striking up a conversation in which you show a genuine interest in your in-laws as individuals and also show genuine interest in the family. It is difficult to remain hostile towards someone who obviously feels affection towards you.

    If you are not the newbie to the family, but the newbie obviously does not like you or want to be around you, do not fret. Just be kind to that person, while giving them plenty of distance. Do not give in to the urge to speak unkindly about the newbie to your family member who married him or her. Be respectful of your family member's choice for a mate, and do your best to get along. Engaging in hostile behavior will not only run the risk of driving a permanent wedge between yourself and the family newbie, but will also result in alienation and estrangement from the family member.

    Summing It All Up
    Some people just seem to love stirring up trouble, and thrive on strife. If the strife is between others, they want to be in the middle of it. If it already involves them, all the better. Social media Likes to refer to everyone as a friend, but who really knows Tom of Myspace. Learn to distinguish between acquaintances, and "friend" collectors who never show an interest in you unless it might involve something for them. Once you Identify a toxic person RUN AWAY It is important to remember that these "attention junkies" have problems that are deep-seated, and that you cannot fix. They need attention, control, and they need to manipulate. Unless you are a licensed therapist, you cannot fix them. These people are toxic and should be avoided if at all possible.

    As British playwright William Maugham said
    "When you choose your friends, don't be short-changed by choosing personality over character"
    When accepting a "friend" request ask yourself a few questions and set your privacy setting appropriately.
    Have I ever met this person ? Do I find them interesting ? Am I willing to share my intimate thoughts with them ? Why do they show an interest in being my friend ? Would I know this person if I met them in the store ?
    When looking for friends, Entertainment or love Caveat emptor. You won't know all the quirks till you have bought the horse and rode it a while. Great friendships are built on trust tolerance and communication.
    An old proverb says "When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends." If you can't stand the potential in laws or the associates .your in for a rough rode.Great friendships can be found in the cyber world whether its a friend who you come to love by the persona the give off or a cousin who you never got a chance to know before. So open up slowly but with the promise of a rose and you and your friends will make a beautiful bouquet.

    The late Zig Ziglar summed it up best when he said, "If you go looking for a friend, you are going to find they are very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you will find them everywhere."

    Let misery love their own company.