Toxic People are Like Moldy Fruit

Think about this – you have a piece of fruit that has been sitting on your counter for a while. 

On the outside, it looks “perfectly fine”. No brown spots or blemishes.

You bite into it and you think it is OK but on the second (or third) bite you encounter mold.

You immediately get rid of it and determine that is the end of it,

HOWEVER, a few minutes, or hours, later you start to feel queasy and not yourself.

Is that not the same when you encounter toxic people? 

At first, you think they are “perfectly fine”.

Well maybe they are quirky, or have a weird obsession with something, but overall they seem like a person you don’t mind interacting with.

After awhile though their real personality starts to show and you realize that the honeymoon phase of your relationship is over.

They start to exhibit behaviors that you find unacceptable, such as being condescending to you in front of others to make themselves seem funny or important and/or they give unsolicited advice and they get mad when you don’t use it.

Now some of your friends/colleagues/family members may not see what you see in this person but just like moldy fruit we have different views which affects tolerance level so some may feel more impacted than others.

Once you realize the fruit is moldy, you dispose of it right away. 

Unfortunately with toxic people it is not as easy.

Usually they act this way to get attention so disengaging is the first course of action.

In the workplace, this may be challenging. If you have to interact with this person then do it at the bare minimum.

The issue is that your team members may notice you withdrawing from this person. You can just say you are “so busy” (see last week’s blog) and just don’t have time for chatting.

If that fails, you could attempt to talk to this person but be careful in the way you frame it. 

Use “I” statements and not “you” statements. Start with “I feel our relationship has changed and I am getting hurt by some of things that are being said when we speak”.

They probably will get defensive so have evidence of when this occurs.

Do give them time to think about this. They may surprise you a few days later and apologize.

If that does not occur, you can speak with your boss or human resources. 

These people may not perceive this situation as important as you do.

Other options are seeking a transfer within the company or looking for a new job.

Whichever course of action you consider taking, do spend some time reflecting.

Is this person always acting this way? Do they only act this way with you? 

What is driving their behavior – insecurity, need for attention, jealousy, and/or deflecting on issues they are dealing with at home, etc.? 

Maybe they see you as a strong person who they wish they were. This is not to make excuses for their actions but it may make it easier to deal with them in the future.