13 In Writer's Life/ Thoughts & Observations

Dealing With Toxic Personalities

I’ve fallen off the social radar for the last week or so, but not without good cause. For starters, book two in my Eden series, Healing Eden, is done and shipped off to my publisher. Woot! Major cause for celebration!

Secondly, I spent four CRAZY days at the national Romance Writers of America convention in San Antonio. And by crazy I mean I was surrounded by 2,000+ other romance writers–almost all female–with a schedule that started before 8am and ended (on average) between 11pm and Midnight. That’s fifteen hours a day of amped up estrogen in one hotel. 

Can anyone say, “RADIOACTIVE?”

I’d love to say I’ve since settled nicely back into my groove, but I’d be a lying shit, so I won’t go there. 

Honestly, the vast majority of the folks I met and ran with during those four days were exceptional human beings. Absolutely delightful to learn and laugh with. 

Then there were a few of what I like to call Toxic Individuals.

You know the type I’m talking about. The ones who leave you feeling out of sorts, angry, itchy, or downright depressed after no more than five minutes in their presence.

Thankfully, my tribe was there to power wash the nuclear gunk off me me after said altercations–usually with desert, wine, and a resounding chorus of, “We can always take them out back and beat them.” (Seriously, I have the best friends.)  

But desert, wine, and old-fashioned come-to-Jesus talks can’t always be the solution to such nasty altercations. I mean, if it were, I’d be drunk at the day job nearly the full eight hours I’m there and weighing at least twenty more pounds. 🙂

Which leads me to the point of this post. I’m reaching out to the collective social universe and asking the question: How do you deal with toxic individuals when distance (and wine/chocolate) aren’t an option?

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  • Reply
    July 30, 2014 at 9:01 am

    When you absolutely can’t escape? Pray. Then try to escape anyway.

    • Reply
      July 30, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Good advice! Though I wish I’d heed it sooner in the process.

  • Reply
    Meggan Connors
    July 30, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    You know, that’s a good question.

    I’ll admit, in my day job, there can sometimes be toxic personalities. You can try to avoid them, but that doesn’t always work out, especially if you have to work closely with them.

    It’s terrible advice, because you really will feel angry and itchy about it, but I would just grin and bear it, and understand that it will be over soon. But then, I’m only confrontational when I just can’t take it anymore, so there is that. Generally, no good will come from confronting the issue of a toxic personality anyway. They won’t change, so the only thing I can control is me.

    And then, once chocolate and wine are available, I’ll go with that. 🙂

    But I’m interested to hear how other people deal with it.

    • Reply
      July 30, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Yes, that’s it exactly. When it’s the day job you can’t get enough distance. (Well, okay…I try. But one can only hide in the parking garage so long. 🙂 )

      Thanks for commenting Meggan!

  • Reply
    L. E. Carmichael
    July 30, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Sorry I didn’t get a chance to meet you in SA last week! I would have loved to help with the chocolate parts.

    I agree with Terri – escape is the best option. If that doesn’t work, I try thinking of them as some rare and mildly entertaining insect species that is doomed to extinction and will then no longer trouble me. A faint smile, as if they are amusing you on some level they can’t quite grasp, works really well, too.

    • Reply
      July 30, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      Darn it, Lindsey! I had no idea you were going! I got to meet quiet a few WANAs which was fantastic, but I sure would have loved to catch up with you too. NEW YORK!

  • Reply
    CJ Burright
    July 30, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Oh, man. I recently escaped a toxic situation that I had to endure for almost two years. As in, we opened our home to this person, having no idea the nasty personality nuances she hid beneath a seemingly sweet exterior. I felt like I was a terrible person because she grew up in a situation that made her feel utterly rejected. I didn’t want to add to that rejection, but…yeah. Anytime my husband was around, she was sweet as pie, helpful–he was her “person” (not romantically, more like daddy issues). When he was gone? She could barely keep the witch inside restrained with me, and let loose with my daughter, her friends, and a few of our friends who she felt threatened by. The poor sot who took her away is my hero. After a month of dating, she snagged onto him and hasn’t let go (moved in, got pregnant, etc.). He has no idea. So, smiling and ignoring works sometimes. Putting them in their place other times. Picturing them floating up into the sky to places far, far away soothes for a time (use your writer’s imagination). Hope and pray they go away works every time.

    • Reply
      July 30, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Yikes! You let her live with you and you had to deal with that? How horrid. I bet her new sugar daddy really IS high on your list!

  • Reply
    Kim Handysides
    July 30, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Fodder! Write down my feelings about the s.o.b. so I can remember them when my hero/ine gets sucked into a toxic black hole. And write down a description of the anti-person who made me feel crappy so I can model my antagonists after them. Then hug my dog.

    • Reply
      July 30, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      And I’m handily plotting book 3 now, so….Muahahahaha. 🙂 Thanks, Kim!

  • Reply
    Paula Millhouse
    July 30, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Oh, Rhenna! Girl I LOVE-LOVE your new digs here. Such an incredibly amazing website. The banner is the Bomb!
    As for Toxic Personalities, I have an opinion on that subject.
    There’s not enough wine and chocolate to rid the Universe of such, and that’s sad. Trolls exist. I’m convinced God sent them to me to test my mettle.
    First thing that comes to mind is, “Just Say No.”
    Don’t participate.
    Remove yourself.
    Realize some days just suck, and you have the ultimate power to just say no.
    Make it a point to tell that person with a smile on your face that you have other obligations to attend. Summarily dismiss them. Then, remove yourself from the venue and attend to the things that make you feel good about yourself and your world.
    Then, say a little prayer of Thanks to your Higher Power that you don’t have to go home with said Troll. Sometimes it helps when I call up my Tribe and repeat that mantra. “At least I don’t have to go home and live with that negativity.”
    I find that private forgiveness and prayer for the Troll and her circumstance is sometimes the only thing that can liberate me from the Toxicity.

    • Reply
      July 30, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Oh, Paula that’s so true. And what’s sad is, when I finally do pray, I say, “Why didn’t I do that sooner.” Sometimes, I’m a little thick when I’m in the middle of it. 🙂

  • Reply
    August 13, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Do you think these people know they’re toxic? When I read something like this I wonder if you’re talking about me! (Since I wasn’t at National, maybe not.)
    Then I wonder if the chick you think is toxic is the one someone else thinks is a hoot.
    Food for thought.

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