We can’t escape every difficult person in our lives. They create unnecessary stress for us to find some release for their own inner demons. By using a few simple steps, we can learn to keep our composure whenever we have to deal with them.

My girlfriend Jennifer had a roommate named Allison who was very self-centered. One day Allison came home drunk at 3 a.m. and started playing her flute. Jennifer woke up and asked Allison to stop because she had an early morning and was also very sick. Allison replied, “I just need to play right now.” Their other roommate Kelly, who Allison had also woken up, said, “So let me get this right. What you’re saying is that what you need right now is more important than what Jennifer needs?” Allison quickly answered, “Yes.” Kelly replied, “Okay. I was just checking.” Allison must have gotten the hint, because she stormed into her room and was quiet the rest of the night.

Toxic people are like bleach. In controlled amounts, bleach can serve a purpose, like cleaning our laundry or our house. But if we swallow even a little bit, we can get sick or worse. Understand that we only have control over how we respond to others. We can’t change anyone else, because they have to want to change themselves.

Others will try to take command of our lives if we don’t do it for ourselves. If we learn to control the interaction with these toxic people using the steps below, we can keep our dignity and self-respect.

Breathe: When you take the time to breathe, your stress level stays down and you keep your advantage in any situation.

Speak Clearly and Slowly: Think about what you want to say before you say it. If you control the pace of the conversation they will be thrown off because they don’t expect you to stay calm.

Look Them In The Eye: When you keep a steady gaze it reflects your inner strength and, if you do it long enough, will make them feel uncomfortable. You should also maintain good posture.

Prepare For Conflict: Remember – they want to control the situation. When you show authority they will respond with hostility. Manage your reaction and stand your ground no matter what they do or say. If there is a threat of physical danger, remove yourself from the environment immediately.

Believe in Yourself: You have the right to express what you need and should expect to always be treated with courtesy. Don’t let it make you become hostile like them. Realize that you can achieve the results you desire and still be a person of good character.

Jennifer may have never learned to deal with confrontation, but if she had practiced these skills, she would have known how to deal with Allison on her own. There is no reason for you to have to walk on eggshells around anyone. Empower yourself, maintain your composure and take back control of your life.

Author's Bio: 

Eve Rojas, MSSW, went through a deeply disturbing period in her life that caused a major depression. Although still suffering from the condition resulting from her experience, Eve believes strongly in the Holy Spirit within her and the promises of God, which exist beyond life’s trauma and stress. Eve shares the knowledge and skills she continues to develop each day to help you learn to shine your light and claim your inner strength so you can better manage life's ups and downs.

Eve Rojas relies on discernment and faith to follow the path in front of her and touch the souls of others. Eve possesses a Master of Science in Social Work with expertise in Social Enterprise Management from Columbia University. She also graduated with honors from Yale University.