We’ve all encountered our share of toxic people, including in the workplace.

Just as there are a variety of toxic personas, there are just as many effective strategies to deal with them. The following tips for handling toxic people are based in large part from an article recently penned by Rochelle Carrington, President/CEO of Second Wind Advisory Group, a sales training consultancy firm:

Remember that you are in control. First and foremost never lose site of the fact that you have the ability to control and express your reaction to toxic people. Allowing toxic people to influence your day by fixating on how difficult they are gives them power over you. Top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress. One of their many talents is the ability to neutralize toxicity.

Avoid the stimuli brought on by exposure to these negative people. Whenever possible, minimize the time you spend with these types of folks. If you were near a chain smoker would you sit there all afternoon inhaling second-hand smoke? Most likely you’d distance yourself. Remember this analogy and do the same when encountering these toxic personalities.

Do not get involved with meaningless feuds. A toxic coworker may try to drag innocent bystanders into a feud with coworkers. It’s important to be very clear with your toxic colleague that you are not involved in the conflict, and this means that you won’t waste time listening to the details surrounding the conflict. Encourage them to try to work things out with the other coworker through open communication, and if needed bring the issue to their boss or Human Resources for resolution.

Focus on solutions not problems. Often toxic individuals spend their time complaining about unfair circumstances or unfair treatment by others. Steer their thinking towards clearly defining specific problems, exploring potential solutions and developing effective ways to present these possible solutions to others.

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