There are some people in this world who are toxic. If you know someone like this and they are a peer or a superior, the only consistently reliable solution for dealing with a toxic person is avoidance. It is the only solution that is within your control and works.

If you have a jerk for a boss, you want to get another job, transfer to another manager, or minimize contact to whatever extent possible.

It is not your job to be a jerk whisperer.

It is your job to realize you’re working with someone whose behaviors and values don’t work for you, and you make a change to reduce or, ideally, completely eliminate contact.

If you’re not in a financial position to do so, then start saving up an emergency reserve fund so you very quickly have the flexibility to find a better situation.

It never gets better by just staying around hoping things change. Human beings are remarkably consistent… unless they choose to change. The choice to change comes from within the person being a jerk, not from the people around the jerk.

There’s a term to describe the people who are harmed by being in close proximity to a jerk.

They’re known as collateral damage.

The greater the proximity, the greater the damage.

Your job is to realize you’re in someone’s collateral damage zone and get the hell out as soon as possible.

In some cases, the jerk is a family member, extended family member, or a member of a community you belong to (circle of friends, industry association, church/community group). In these situations, you may not be able to avoid them completely. The next best choice is to dramatically reduce contact.

If the jerk is someone who works for you, the solution is slightly different. You have two options:

1a) Give feedback to your direct report who’s behaving like a jerk.
1b) Coach them (or hire an executive coach to coach them) to find other ways to express themselves that don’t impact others so negatively.

2) Fire them.

Life is too short to have toxic people perpetually in your life. They only wear you down over time. There is only so much toxic behavior one can take before it erodes your sense of self-worth. Best to exit those situations before that damage accumulates.

Tony Robbins once said, “The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your relationships.”

Great Relationships = Great Life

Terrible Relationships = Terrible Life

Pick the relationships that work well for you, and invest in those.

Identify the relationships that harm you, and divest yourself of those.

If you only do these two things for the rest of your life, your life will be a much better one.

It’s a simple idea, even if it is not always easy to execute.

Be kind and respectful to yourself… because if you won’t, why would someone else?

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