We all run across people in our lives who focus more on negative things than positive. Sometimes these people are so toxic that it's best to avoid them.
I recently had a conversation with a family member where they pointed out three things I had done to hurt them. I let them know the reasons that these things happened, as well as made an attempt to make things right with them. Since I believed we were having a productive conversation, I pointed out some things that I had noticed as well. That's where the actual conversation ended.
What happened next was a bit shocking. Threats of ending the relationship ... accusations ... and assumptions and, most importantly, nothing to make the relationship better. I came away from the exchange realizing I needed to have a better plan for interacting with this person and people like them in the future. I had unwittingly fallen into a trap.
This type of behavior can be changed but only if the person wants to change. We will not be able to convince them that how they are acting is not the way to win friends. Knowing what to look for when you interact with this type of person is important. There are five things to pay attention to in order to know if this is someone who you need to be wary of.
1. They threaten
These threats don't take the form of anything physical. They take the form of cutting off relationships. If you don't do what this person wants or you don't interact with them in the correct way, they let you know that you are risking losing relationships over whatever it is you are talking about. In reality, they need you in their lives. Toxic people have few friends. After the incident that emotionally affected you, they generally will act like nothing has happened until the next incident you have with them.
2. They ignore
During your conversation with this person, you bring up valid issues that need to be dealt with. They simply don't acknowledge them and go back to their arguments. They will often also bring up issues from the past that have nothing to do with the present issue.
3. They assume
This shows up when they simply believe that no matter what you say you are wrong. They believe other people and not you. A simple explanation about why you did something doesn't suffice. Whatever you're talking about, you are not in the right.
When you point out something they have done, they do not take ownership of it, nor will they apologize. You need to move forward. If you are waiting for an apology, then you will keep waiting. It will be smart to move forward without expecting an apology that will never come.
5. They prioritize their feelings over actual truth
The phrase you may hear over and over is, "That's how I feel," when you interact with a toxic person. There is the truth about the issue and then there is how one feels about the issue. Recognizing the truth of something is not as important to them as getting out how they feel.
What you will find as you begin to pay more attention to difficult relationships is that you most likely are in relationship with a toxic person. Knowing is half the battle.
Editor's note: This article originally appeared on David Simonsen's blog, www.DavidSimonsen.net. It has been republished here with permission.