"toxic" or Avoiding?
An article about toxic relationships just flashed across my feed (algorithms!!). To me, the term "toxic" categorizes someone who is difficult and best avoided, but not dismissed. Someone who you find difficult but maybe not in all situations. According to the article from the Atlantic, "toxic" is used to dismiss people when they do something that offends or expresses a strong emotion towards another. It shuts down any responsibility of the "victim" in recognizing their role and how they can be a part of the solution. It can create a huge divide that can damage families, roommates, neighbors and intimate relationships. According to the article, we are seeing "toxic" in social media and in personal relationships. When someone is labeled as "toxic", they can become an outcast.
While there are toxic relationships and toxic individuals, placing a label of "toxic" can potentially escalate a situation. And when we label others ("smarter", "dumber", "late", "fat", "skinny", etc.), we create a bias about how we see the other and how we project to others. Instead of using "toxic", be descriptive; describe the behavior that is creating conflict for you. "I get annoyed when you interrupt a conversation to talk about yourself because I never get to finish collecting the information that I needed. I would appreciate it if you would wait until I'm done having the conversation before you interject."
Be careful about labels and be aware of when we are using terms, such as "toxic" and the bias you are expressing. Check in with yourself to make sure that you aren't avoiding addressing an issue and escalating a conflict simply based on your own thoughts and behavior.
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