The One Thing You Should Never Say to a Toxic Person

The meddling mother-in-law. The narcissist high-school friend. The one-uppy mom on the playground. Chances are, you have at least one tricky personality in your life. Knowing what to say (and what not to say) when they push your buttons can help you stick to your bottom line and keep healthy boundaries.

The one thing you should never say to a toxic personality? According to Elizabeth B. Brown, author of Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People, the worst thing you can say is "I'm sorry." These two small words may seem like no biggie (especially when you're trying to diffuse an argument about whether or not you had agreed to meet at 11:30 or 12:30 for brunch, and you always change the times around, and you're always late to everything). But as it turns out, they may do more harm than good.

By saying "I'm sorry," you're giving in to the situation, even if there's nothing at all for you to be sorry for. Some things you could say instead? "I know, I wish things could be different." "That's just the way it is." "Unfortunately, that's my answer." "That was not my intention."

Remember, the toxic person isn't your responsibility. It's your job to protect yourself and stay rooted in reality. #sorrynotsorry.

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Lindsay Champion

Freelance Editor

From 2015-2020 Lindsay Champion held the role of Food and Wellness Director. She continues to write for PureWow as a Freelance Editor.
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