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What Is A Toxic Relationship And How To Deal With It.

What Is A Toxic Relationship And How To Deal With It.

Toxic relationships. Sounds pretty bad and serious, isn’t it?

We might think those relationships must involve cheating, betrayal or even violent physical actions. Of course, they are obvious signs of unhealthy relationships, but does that mean they are the only indicators?

And is it necessary for us to get emotionally and mentally drained before we start to think about our own happiness?

I understand that sometimes it’s hard for us to face problems in the relationship that we have invested and treasured a lot. It’s not always easy to remember who you are and what you want from the relationship. We might put up a lot of excuses and reasons for people who hurt us because simply picturing the life without them makes our heart ache.

I know how that feel and I have been there too, not only had a few broken relationships, I also experienced obstacles with my friends and co-workers. (It’s not just romantic relationship that can become toxic, my friend!)

No matter what kind of relationship it is, it’s important to pay attention to how the relationship makes you feel. Think about it this way, Listening to yourself and pay attention to how you feel is, the key to saving your relationship. Simply letting the other parties know what you really want is the key first step to regaining your own happiness again!

Here I have summarized toxic signs in different kind of relationships and solutions that might help you to get through this unpleasant stage.

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On Toxic Love Relationships

Passive Aggressive

What is it?
It is the indirect resistance to others to avoid direct confrontation. It means on the surface we try not to be aggressive but we actually are. One way is by criticisms. “I hate it when you do this but I have been keeping it to myself.” Sounds familiar, isn’t it? It happens when they try to nudge you in the direction of figuring it out yourself.

Why is it toxic?
It shows that you aren’t ready for open communication. If you feel secure to someone you’ll be open to express feelings directly instead of dropping hints for guessing. If your partner only knows you don’t like the idea but doesn’t know your real meanings, the conflict cannot be solved. You may create distance since your partner may avoid any kind of confrontations by hiding thoughts in the future.

What should you do instead?
If you to be understood, tell them your feelings openly. Tell your partner that you are not blaming him/her but you want to discuss and find out solutions together. By doing this, your partner knows it needs both parties’ effort to work it out. This also gives a chance for both of you to explain yourself clearly to each other and develop a better understanding.


Excessive Jealousy

What is it?
Jealousy is a mixture of insecurity, fear, rage, anxiety and blablabla (and the list goes on).Simply listing them makes me sick too!  A simple and obvious example is you feel bad when you see your partner get in touch (in any form) with others. What do you do? You tell your partner that’s an awful thing to do and try to control your partner by forbidding them to contact ever again.

Why is it toxic?
The emotion signifies a lack of trust. This will often lead to a loop when you start to check your partner’s phone while they are in the shower. A male friend of mine experienced this. His ex-lover checked his phone by looking at the photos, call history, and WhatsApp and Facebook messages. They ended up in a serious argument because the man found it disrespectful while the girl felt emotionally cheated. When jealousy is excessive, both parties suffer and after all the torture, it’s common to say goodbye in the end.
What should you do instead?
A certain level of jealousy is natural and is considered as a sign of affection since you show care. However, excessive jealousy is definitely toxic. Trust your partner. It is just as simple as that. Do not overthink how your partner is going to cheat you. If you feel insecure, tell your lover and let them know how you feel.

Buying the Solution

What is it?
Instead of talking through the problem, you partner try to cover it up with a good feelings and excitement that comes from gifts and treats. Imagine You and your partner had an argument in the morning. At night your partner brings you to a fancy restaurant with your favourite Italian cuisine. You want to talk about the issue but you don’t want to break the atmosphere and so both of you enjoy the pasta with casual talk. So what’s going on with the problem? Guess you guys just let it “pass-ta” away.

Why is it toxic?
You think it helps rebuild the relationship? This isn’t true. Covering up problems doesn’t work since the problem is never discussed or solved. You feel depressed instead of happy even tho you are having a nice dinner because you know your partner isn’t willing to be accountable for the problem. So the story ended up with voice unheard and a man feeling like an ATM.

What should you do instead?
Again. Talk. Talk. And Talk. Communication is always the key. Dig deep into the core problem and try to solve it step by step to make sure it won’t happen again. There’s nothing wrong to treat your lover a nice gift but never use this as a solution to your problem because it will never be. If you try to cover it up with gifts, the problem accumulates and rolls like a snowball, leading to a harmful and enormous threat to the relationship.


Blaming One’s Emotion On the Other Half

What is it?
Some people think if two people are intimate, their can rely their feelings on each other. It means that if you get angry then your partner has responsibility in causing that. Imagine a girl who just finished an exhausting day wants to see her partner asap after work. Unluckily the partner had a dinner date planned earlier so he got home late. At home, he got distracted by a business phone call while the tired girl tries to cuddle. The girl ended up losing temper because she felt like being ignored and the partner was insensitive to her feelings. She blamed him to be responsible for all the negative emotions.

Why is it toxic?
It’s just small issue and can be solved easily, but now it ended up with an unnecessary argument. This harms the relationship when the partner finds you irrational and emotional and constant annoyance can possibly reduce intimacy and of course patience.

What should you do instead?
Put yourself in his/her shoes. Think of the frustrations your other half may have in a day. If you are tired frommeant work, he or she may probably feel the same. Take responsibility for your own feelings. Long-lasting partners are meant to be supportive but not obligated to each other’s feelings. You don’t want your partner to put the blame on you for everything they feel too. So next time if you need him/her, just gently ask, ‘I just had a bad day, si that ok if you can talk to me for a while or just comfort me?”


On Toxic Friendships

Encourages bad behavior

What is it?
He or she invites you to join all those events that involve unhealthy activities like smoking or taking drugs and maybe even convince you to try it.

Why is it toxic?
We normally will compromise because of peer pressure and just don’t want to be left out. We try very hard to fit in because they are our friends. and because of that we easily develop habits that affect us because who would want to be left out alone?
However, because of this mentality, in long term, we will simply do things that we don’t want to. In a more serious way, you might also lose yourself and the power to reject.

What should you do instead?
You should understand your stand, what you like or do not like and keep it firm, do only what makes you comfortable and feel right to do. Also, you should understand that friends should be encouraging (in a positive way) and that they will not force you to do the things you do not want in life and how you guys are not on the same path anymore.


All you do is gossip

What is it?
Basically, every time you guys meet, all you guys do is gossip.
You will find yourself constantly gossiping with him or her behind people’s back and judge their behaviors, appearances or any other little things that are not really meaningful in life or have little contribution to your personal growth.

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Why is it toxic?
In order for us not to be awkward, you are forced to give he or she the answers they want to hear and gossip together with them about things that are not important in your life and constantly sending out negativity to people when you make your judgment. In long term, you are wasting your time gossiping in which you could have developed yourself a hobby, read a book and do something more positive or meaningful things to yourself or the society. You might also start to be more negative in life than before as you constantly make your judgment and see only the bad in people and fail to appreciate the others.

What you should do instead?
First, you should avoid gossiping with him or her and learn to see the good things in people around you and in your life. Spend more time focusing on yourself and your friends instead of people that are not around. Always remember to surround yourself with positive and encouraging people. 


You guys are not on the same path anymore

What is it?
You guys have different or maybe even the opposite goals in life and he or she blames you for not following her path and degrades your goals or dreams in life.

Why is it toxic?
He or she blames you for being selfish and not considerate enough to have a different path with him or her in life, in which you might then be persuaded to give up what you want in order to be the ‘considerate’ friend that he or she wants you to be. Finally, you give up what you want to do instead of perusing what you want in your life trying to make your friend, but not yourself, who is the owner of this life.

What you should do instead?

You should stand firm in face of her judgment and blame. Do not stop believing in what you want to do or to achieve in life just because of what she said. Remember that good friend should be supportive of each other despite having different goals in lives.


Everything is in competition

What is it?
Instead of feeling happy about what your friends have achieved, you feel jealous and often compare your own success with theirs. You compete for everything with him or her from what you guys eat, what you guys wear, where you guys live, your exam scores, your positions in work to every little part of your life even though it is not meaningful.

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Why is it toxic?
You start to focus so much on winning that you spend your every dollar, every minute and every bit of energy competing with her. Then, you forget your original plan or goals in life because you are too obsessed with winning her. In the end, you lose track of your goals in lives and forget many other things that are much more meaningful and important than competitions in life, like a true genuine friendship.

What should you do instead?
Don’t lose yourself. True friends should be happy for each other and encourage each other along the way instead of competing. You should know that not everything is or should be a competition and that failing does not mean losing, what is moreimportant is that you learn from your friends and know what you want to improve. Don’t hesistate to ask for help if you think they can teach you!


On Toxic Working Relationships

Pointing to the person instead of the problem

What is it?
When there is a problem at work, your colleagues blame you or your team members instead of fixing it together. Imagine something went wrong in a project. Rather than investigating the problem deeply or learning from the mistake, your colleagues keep blaming and pinpointing at one particular person, claiming that it’s all his/her fault. Sounds annoying, isn’t it?

Why is it toxic?
Does blaming help? Definitely not. Nothing will improve by simply putting the blame on someone instead of finding ways to improve. Members who are blamed will feel demotivated and embarrassed. It is also possible for them to do the same and blame the others next time.

What should you do instead?
Try to talk openly about the problem as a team instead of an individual. Make sure you talk objectively and based on fact instead of feelings. Let your team members know open communication is the only way for the team to learn and grow.


Not sharing responsibilities

What is it?
When there is a big project that requires effort from different parties, some colleagues refused to contribute either they are too busy with their own stuff or fail to fulfill what’s promised.

Why is it toxic?
How do you feel if a team member doesn’t contribute as much as the others? That’s just NOT FAIR, I bet you are screaming this in your head. The colleague who doesn’t share responsibilities is likely to be disliked by the others. It demotivates others too because they may feel dissatisfied due to the lack of contribution of the colleague. This doesn’t only ruins the relationship and it might delay the project progress.

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What should you do instead?
Always remember you are not working on your own but as a team. Whenever someone needs help, offer help. And when the work requires shared work, get involved, contribute, and take up responsibilities. Try to find out why your team member failed to contribute their part, make deep investigationa, find out the reasons and offer as much help and assistant as you can!  Again, just what we stated above, point to the problem, not the person!

More by this author

Jolie Choi

Gone through a few heartbreaks and lost hundreds of friends but I am still happy with my life.

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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