What to Say to A Toxic Person, 6 Words to Defuse the Situation

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You consider yourself a pretty easy person to get along with. But unfortunately, your narcissistic brother-in-law, busybody neighbor and psychopathic boss haven't gotten the memo.

Dealing with a difficult or toxic personality can feel like walking into a minefield. You never know what's going to set the person off or what they're going to demand of you. Instead of feeling like you're at the mercy of a toxic pal's moods and whims, write down this handy phrase and repeat it whenever you're asked to do something: "I have to think about it."

Here's how it works.

Boss: You have to take on this new project.
You: I have to think about it. I’m not sure if that will fit with my current workload, but I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Mother-in-law: I need you to plan a baby shower for my daughter.
You: I have to think about it. I have a lot going on this month and need to see if it’s doable for me.

High-school friend: Will you pick me up at the airport on Saturday?
You: I have to think about it. I’m working that day and I’m not sure it will be doable with my schedule.

Congrats, you just handily avoided three new obligations you didn't feel like taking on with one simple phrase. At the very least, it will buy you some time, so you can decide if it's worth agreeing just this once or if you need to think of a tactful way to say "no." Nice work.

30 Foolproof Ways to Deal with Difficult People

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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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