We all have toxic people in our lives. You know the ones. The friend that is always trying to belittle your successes. The mother-in-law who is always telling you her son could have done better. The brother who can't talk about anything but himself and doesn't seem to realize that you're a person, too. At least six toxic people in my life instantly came to mind when I started thinking about it, which is why this book, Toxic People: 10 Ways of Dealing with People who make your Life Miserable, caught my interest when I was looking through the non-fiction section of my library.
Recommend this product?
Although you would think that this book is completely about the 10 different ways to deal with toxic people (as the title would lead you to believe), that's actually only a small portion. The other sections are as such:
Is There a Toxic Person in Your Life? In my opinion, it's pretty easy to figure out if you have a toxic person in your life. Basically, they make you feel like crap. End of story. Dr. Glass, however, has written a whole chapter about it, just in case you're not sure if the people who make you feel like crap are, indeed, toxic.
Toxic Behavior This goes into different ways people can be toxic, including toxic speech and swear words.
What Makes Toxic People Act the Way They Do? A chapter on underlying behavior of toxic people, mostly all going back to jealousy or low self-esteem. (I coulda told ya that one!)
Identifying Toxic People in Your Life More of the same from chapter one. Now that you realize you do have one in your life, you can ID exactly who they are.
The Thirty Types of Toxic Terrors One of my favorite chapters which identifies the different kinds of terrors, like The Mental Case and The Control Freak.
Ten Techniques for Handling Toxic People Finally, we get to the title of the book. Some of these techniques are good, like The Mirror technique (acting the same way as the toxic person to show them how awful they're being) and some kinda suck, like The Humor technique (we'll go into that later).
Techniques to Use with Specific Toxic Terrors This chapter shows how to deal differently with the different types of terrors since The Mental Case and The Control Freak (for example) will react differently to different techniques.
Choosing a Technique Based on the Toxic Person's Role in Your Life This chapter explains how you need to deal with differently with say, a friend and a boss who is toxic.
Dealing with the Hurt and Anger of a Toxic Relationship
The Importance of Outward Self: The Toxic Image Inventory Shows why certain people appear toxic from their image alone.
Revitalizing the Toxic Relationship Shows how to re-establish relationships if you think the toxic person can be changed or has changed.
Getting on with Your Life
What I Liked About the Book
I thought this book had an interesting concept as everyone has toxic people in their lives (or may be a toxic person themselves). The book was written in plain English and didn't try to confuse or impress with jargon. Dr. Glass also used many stories from her own experience (she's a speech therapist or 'communications specialist' as the back cover says). These stories worked well at illustrating what she was trying to say and made the book more interesting.
Another thing I liked about the book is that Dr. Glass isn't one of those people who tries to tell you that people who act badly are doing so because they had a tough childhood, low self-esteem, etc. and that we should feel sorry for them. Instead, she says that there is no excuse for people being toxic to us and we have every right to yell at them, make them feel bad in return or simply get them out of our lives (the Unplug technique). However, she was also good at explaining that some people we can't just unplug from since they're family or in another position where we must interact with them or face losing someone else important in our lives.
What Wasn't so Great
I thought the book was a little long and I lost interest after the 10 techniques part. It also gets a bit redundant and you feel like you're hearing things over and over. There were also times that I felt like I was being talked down to, like I couldn't put two and two together and realize on my own that the friend that constantly berated me was, indeed, toxic. I had to go through a whole inventory (Do I feel tired around her? Are my fingers numb after talking to her? blah blah) before I could come to the conclusion she was toxic. Sorry, but I've known for many years before coming across this book that the people who make me feel like poo are people I shouldn't have in my life if I can help it.
Dr. Glass also lost a little credibility with me by trying to be too cutesy in places. When describing the toxic terrors, she uses little phrases that are, in my opinion, downright stupid. For example, under the toxic terror The Cut-You-Downer, she describes them as "Cars don't run down as many people as they do" and "They are the 'knife' of the party". Ugh. Give me a break. Dr. Glass, you ain't funny and don't try to be. Along these same lines, under the section where she gives the 10 techniques to deal with toxic people, she mentions the humor technique. This is fine and dandy because I believe that using humor can diffuse many situations. However, she takes it upon herself to provide us with some funny lines to use with toxic terrors that are downright ridiculous. Take these little gems, for example: "I guess I can't ask you to act like a human being--you don't do imitations" or "Whatever is eating you must be suffering from indigestion" or "Why don't you sue your brain for nonsupport?" Hmm, yes. I can see it now. My stepdad is telling me I don't know how to run my own life and that I don't look as fat as I did last time I came home and I come back with the ripping insult of "I don't know what makes you tick, but I hope it's a time bomb." I don't think so.
I have one other small complaint about this book. She quotes Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman--and she quotes her wrong!! Wouldn't you think that if you were writing a book you hoped would be read by millions that you'd take the time (and $4.00) to rent the damn movie and get the quote right? That's just sloppy, in my opinion, and made me think less of Dr. Glass.
I thought this book did a decent job of helping people deal with toxic terrors. However, I thought it was too long, repeated itself too much, got stupid in places and occasionally talked down to the reader. My suggestion is to get it from the library (or a friend) and read only the parts that interest you, skipping over the rest.
And remember, people, if someone says something nasty to you, come back with, "You have a fine personality--but not for a human being." It's sure to put them right in their place (har har).
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