Posts Tagged 'verbal abuse help'

There’s a Wolf in that Sheepskin!

SheepWouldn’t it be nice if difficult people were labeled clearly with helpful hazard warnings so you could simply avoid involvement?  But they are not, and in fact, covertly aggressive, controlling, and narcissistic people are deceptively charming at first.  It can take being stung repeatedly to realize that the abusive behavior was not a mistake.  The damage is done before you know you have been targeted.

Early detection of a toxic partner, boss or comrade is not really that difficult.  I have tangled with bullies and worked with their targets enough to know that controlling people invariably tip their hand and, subtly but surely, show their true nature early on in a relationship.  Mixed in with the charm, are fleeting antisocial behaviors which we tend to dismiss as anomalies.

Instead of dismissing odd, out of character behaviors, consider them red flags; warnings to watch a person’s behavior more closely, paying more attention to actions than to words.  A feeling of confusion is the early warning sign that you have perceived inconsistent behavior.  If you feel confused around someone you do not know well, that person’s behavior bears watching.

Toxic people are usually short on empathy and you may see occasional evidence of this.  When a new person in your life fails to respond to your remarks or does not listen to your end of the conversation, they are likely to have a bit more narcissism than the norm.  This doesn’t make for rewarding relationships.

Watch for facial expressions that are not appropriate to the conversation, such as smiling while hearing about another’s misfortune, rolling the eyes dismissively, or turning red in the face and looking angry in an ordinary conversation.  These can indicate hostile feelings.

Attend to any confusing behavior or inappropriate reaction.  When a hiring manager snaps at you during the interview, your new friend is critical, or a date claims he’s interested but shows up late without phoning, don’t write it off as odd.  Question why you are seeing unfriendly behavior in a situation which should be friendly.

Disrespect indicates a lack of empathy.  If a hiring manager wants a decision on the spot in the first interview or a blind date pushes to come to your house, your needs are not being respected.  Disrespect can also take the form of criticism from people who have no business criticizing you. And really, most people have no business criticizing you.  Making assumptions about you can also be disrespectful, such as presuming to know what you think or acting as if you have a closer relationship than you do.

To more quickly evaluate someone you have just met, ask appropriate questions about their relationships to elicit information about whether they empathize with others.  Watch for expression and attitude as much as what is said as you ask how your date gets along with his mom, or how the employees felt about the reorganization.

Follow up on your suspicions.  Always feel justified in running background checks on anyone you date.  If you interview for a job, see if you know someone who has had experience with, or heard gossip about, the company or the reputation of the manager you would work with.

See whether the confusing behavior is really an anomaly before dismissing it.

Appreciating Enlightened Relationships


It’s easy to get depressed with all the controlling, manipulative and unreliable people in the world.  Sometimes it seems as if disrespectful people turn up everywhere.  But they don’t.

It can be helpful to audit your contact lists and make a special list of the people who are consistently good to interact with. I did this recently and was pleased to see that I had quite a number trustworthy people in my life.  I can rely on these people.  I feel safe with them.

There are the tried and true friends.  We may take each other for granted, but these friends can be counted on for their integrity.   These relationships can be painful at times; we step on each others toes because we are close and we join each other’s unconscious conspiracies.  But ultimately, we have each others’ best interests at heart.

There are a couple of colleagues who have joined me in business ventures, with whom I have had consistently honest, productive and painless relationships.  I must also count the cousin who always takes me seriously.   Then there are the new friends from a women’s group who truly listen to me, respect me and accept me as I am.  I am also beginning to notice an outer circle of people who are not as close but are a steady and positive presence in my life.

What makes people safe to relate to?  They are willing to actively connect with us, be honest with us and they have our best interests at heart.  They may not get it right all the time, but they have been reliable enough that we trust them.

Good fences make good neighbors – and allow us to see where we leave off and the other begins.  Boundaries are critical for respect and the trustworthy person will recognize and respect your boundaries as well as her own.  A person with good boundaries can feel safe and therefore be safe to be aWhat makes people safe to relate to?  They are willing to actively connect with us, be honest with us and they have our best interests at heart.  They may not get it right all the time, but they have been reliable enough that we trust them.

You must be present to win – being present and connected with another is critical for healthy relating.  In order to connect with you, I need empathy to relate to and care about what you think and how your feel.  Empathy is based on listening, watching, and feeling, and is not the projection of the narcissist who assumes you must feel exactly as he does, or the bully who claims to know your motivations better than you do.

Straightforward honesty is important for an enlightened interaction.  When someone is generally honest, we can rely on what they say and do.  We trust them.  I am not referring to the brutal “Your dress is awful,” honesty which diminishes another.  Consistent communication and congruent behavior build trust and the peace that trust brings.  Crazy making double messages are rare with a person who is straightforward and honest.

The person who has your best interests at heart is allowing rather than controlling and interacts in ways that promote your growth.

Cultivating trustworthy people and becoming a trustworthy person are the best antidote to the toxins we pick up in difficult relationships.

Toxic People Play by Different Rules

Toxic people don’t play by your rules of give and take. You can make sense of their behavior when you recognize it is competitive not collaborative. Its purpose is to get the upper hand.

Here are some clues that you are dealing with a toxic person.

• You feel confused after your interactions with this person.
• Conflicts are never resolved. The toxic often declare a discussion closed while you are still struggling with it. No compromise is reached, or worse; you find yourself apologizing after their outburst.
• You feel depressed or depleted after spending time with this person.
• When you are feeling good, or enjoying success, the toxic may attempt to deflate you with a subtle put down or an argument.
• If you are feeling bad, the toxic person is likely to have a crisis that is more urgent than your problem and demands your attention.
• Difficult people demand your attention; interrupting your wedding or your mother’s funeral with their routine problems.
• They become inappropriately angry. A toxic coworker may turn red and look daggers at you as you express an inoffensive opinion.

Toxic people live in a different reality than you do. If you assume they are being rational, you will try and try to understand them or explain yourself so they’ll understand you. But the toxic person doesn’t want to come to any understanding except that you are at fault when they feel bad.

Once you know who is toxic you protect yourself from their poison. If you are involved with a toxic, difficult person, check out my upcoming class: Emotional Freedom from Difficult People. Learn easy, safe techniques for feeling better fast and being less susceptible.

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