How to Deal With Stupid, Needy, Irritating, Toxic, and Generally Crappy People

by Stephen Mills on November 13, 2011

“When you get in the mud with a pig, you get dirty and the pig gets happy.”
–James Altucher

This is one of those problems in life that has a simple solution that is hard to implement.  It becomes more difficult the closer one is to one of these crappy people.  Even though I know what I should do, I still find it hard sometimes.

These kinds of people are not worth your time or stress.  Every second of your life that you spend with someone who is a negative is not only a second you lose from something you value more, it takes something out of you.  It’s not not neutral it is a draining negative.  The effect of dealing with them will linger with you and continue to take away from your precious life.  It’s like a left hook to the head followed by a right.  And for particularly crappy people you might as well take an uppercut to the chin as well.  You may suffer the effects for days to come.

It’s your life and you don’t get it back. You don’t get a do-over. You waste it on stupid, needy, irritating, toxic, and generally crappy people and YOU LOSE.

Making It About You

When you think about, stress about, talk about, or in any way do something about crappy people, you thereby make their problem all about you.  This is where you make the big mistake.

In my own life I have done a great deal to eliminate this problem but I still have a long way to go. In listening to the chatter of others, I think most people suffer from it a lot. They sure spend a lot of time talking about the crappy humans that they deal with; reliving the events all over again.

The Simple But Not So Easy Solution

What follows should be obvious. While writing it I kept saying “Duh!” to myself.   However we seem to need to be reminded about what to do because we obviously aren’t doing it enough.

Three simple words: Avoid, Ignore, and Forget.


Avoiding crappy people is the first strategy.  If you know a crappy person avoid them.  This is obviously easier to do if the crapper is a friend of a friend than if she is your mother in-law, but still in almost all cases you can avoid these people more than you might think.  It takes guts to walk away or avoid people who are close to you but you need to set boundaries.

People who interact with you need to understand that it takes two to tango, and that you have the right to avoid them if they do not respect your terms for engaging in the dance.  Often times your family, friends, or colleagues will look down upon for being anti-social or refusing to engage.  However it is your right to live your life as you choose and that includes avoiding crappy people no matter who they may be.

If your mother-in-law (or your mother) is at your home for the holidays, you have a right to inform her that she cannot act that way in your home.  She can either behave or leave.  If you are at her home you can leave.  If you decide you can’t leave you can go into another room and read a book, go outside, or otherwise disengage.


Let’s say you can’t actually avoid the person or you chose not to avoid them.  You can then utilize the second strategy and simply ignore them.  Don’t talk to them.  Whatever you do do not argue with them.  Don’t complain about them.  Keep quiet.  To do otherwise is simply to elicit more crap.  If it is your boss or a colleague say as little as possible and meet as little as possible.  You can still be professional, you just choose to keep quiet if at all possible.

The human tendency, trust me I know, is to be outraged, to fight, complain, and stew about it.  If you can’t avoid then ignore, ignore, ignore, and ignore some more.  DO NOT ENGAGE THEM IN ANY WAY.

It’s amazing how much better you feel and how much less interesting you are to the crappy people in the world when you simply ignore them.


If you have failed to avoid and ignore you are left with the final strategy of simply forgetting about it.  Whatever has happened in the past is done and gone so forget about it.  Why relive the problem again and again?  Every time you think about it, say something about it, complain about it, stress about it, or do anything but forget about it you are reliving the pain all over again.

And So…

You can’t change people no matter what you think.  You will waste your life trying and frustrate yourself to no end.  Just stop.  Avoid.  Ignore.  Forget.  Remember the quote from James Altucher at the top of this article and don’t play with a pig.

This may seem obvious, but evidently most of us can’t seem to do the obvious.


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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc Zazeela November 14, 2011 at 7:41 am

This is really great! We often become more like those whom we surround ourselves with. We get to make the choice. Do we want to be miserable, and crappy, or do we want to be happy, healthy, fruitful, and productive?

Lots of research indicates that the human condition is inherently negative, so it takes a little effort to be positive. But, the effort is well rewarded!

Thanks much.


Casey02 November 14, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Well for me colleagues will look down upon for being anti-social or refusing to engage. However it is your right to live your life as you choose and that includes avoiding crappy people no matter who they may be.
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CorinneC November 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Totally agree with what you have written here! Sometime’s it’s really hard avoid it.
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Cover Ups for Books November 14, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I must attract these people…or I was chosen to be related to them…ugh, my mom is just the biggest energy drainer ever! You have to love the people that talk AT you and have zero desire for any commentary or answer…I’m in the middle of a very ugly divorce (I know tiny violin…) but this brings out the absolute worst qualities in people you thought you knew, even family. It’s been crazy! Whomever lies the best wins!
I’ll tack this on if it’s OK, I’m a previously stay at home mom trying to make some money (Tiny violin, again…). I created a product myself that is selling on my website: Take a look if you’re interested, on sale for Christmas! $5.99 for 3! 🙂 Take Care…


Fionna November 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Another great post. I had a lifelong toxic relationship with my mother and three years ago I cut her out of my life. It was the best thing I ever did. People can’t understand when I say I love her still but I do not want her in my life. I honestly wish all good things for her and bear no ill will, I just recognized that our relationship was detrimental to my mental and physical well being and I didn’t want to wallow in the mud anymore. I hope someone else reads this post and gains some wisdom. Thanks, I’ll be forwarding this to a friend or too.


Cover Ups for Books November 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Well, I think my favorite phrase has to be, “blood is thicker than water”…most people are disgusted by the thought that you could possibly disown a family member. So I keep trying unfortunately. I actually developed a muscle twitch when she was here last…how sad is that! Went away the day after she left! So crazy…I have her only two grandchildren and they love her to death, although she mentioned last time, to my kids, that my son loves her more…my daughter was a little upset by this…wonder why…


xingshangwen November 15, 2011 at 11:54 pm

waooo~ I can’t agree you more ~~


John Topping November 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Stephen, Thanks for your post, I just got rid of one crappy person out of my life last month and I did exactly what you advise. I would like to add that if you still have crappy people in your life that you cannot avoid, remain philosophical about it. Remember that everyone has their good and bad side. Try to bring out their good side if possible.
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John November 23, 2011 at 9:05 am

In some point I will agree with you Step. But really can’t avoid some creepy kind of people. The more you want them not to be entertain. The more they will closely near to you. The worst thing ever.
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Erica March 4, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Maybe I’m being repetitive, but another way to deal with toxic people (especially toxically needy neurotic types) is to not to give them your emotional energy: they wanna whine and ask for advice that they never take, make no comments and have no advice “Sorry, I don’t know what to tell ya.” They may be waiting for you to supply commentary, give them nothing but crickets. They’ll be disappointed, but that’s not your problem! But the author is right, the best ultimate strategy is to ignore them by not taking their calls. They need to see you to complain, you’ve got other things to do!


Michael June 23, 2014 at 10:55 pm

I had a visitor from someone from my past. I’m talking 45 years past who basically invited them self over while stopping through our state and stupidly I forgot what a needy person they were then. They are still the same needy neurotic type who talked non-stop for three days. Much to my chagrin when the ‘visit’ was over I was hoping this would be the end but they don’t seem to know when to stop calling and emailing – hoping to come see us again ‘real’ soon. I’m ignoring all correspondence as I’m hoping they will get the hint. I feel a little like I’m being stalked. Is there hope here?


alireza April 19, 2012 at 4:26 am

Thanks, helped me calming down.


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XYZ October 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm



XYZ October 13, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Sorry , i didn mean to , but u r full of shit urself


Ian Mulder October 23, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Wow. This really helped to calm me down after fighting with my brother. I come from a family of people who are capable of being intelligent, but for some reason choose not to be. The result is the use of nonsensical phrases like, “I don’t give a care”. My dad’s girlfriend is just stupid though.


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My bells are ringing when I hear things like ” I am” and “you are” in one sentence or constructed as a disguised comparison.


Janet January 12, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Take stress out of your life, people who are drama Kings & Queens
do not give them the time of day!! Avoid at all cost & stay away from
people who do not consider your feelings it does work both way of
course some people just expect you to revolve around them because their
own family treats them this way!! Forget it find new people to associate
with & be happy!!


M.A. February 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Whomever said ignorance is bliss was a liar!

I seem to have had a propensity to associate with quite a few insecure persons who are uncomfortable with intelligence. And I’m really not that smart. More persistent and patient.

These pigs poke fun at people who struggle with hateful condemnation. The successful ones, they’ll envy and provoke attempting to capitalize on even a miniscule error committed. An attempt to make themselves feel better I suppose. And the prodding, condescending comments directed toward us among others are particularly disgusting as well.

A little bit of compassion goes a long ways. Should someone enjoy a success, how about be celebratory inquiring about the accomplishment learning in the process…. “Cool, how’d you do that” or, “What lead you to make that decision”. Et cetera. Most the time we aren’t needing advice rather support.

But they’re experts of coarse pretending to be knowledgeable folks and, there’s always a few friends or those that’ll validate preposterous positions justifying the behavior. If one does not know what one speaks of all the while having convinced themselves in fact they do, she or he aught to keep the trap shut!

Wise people know that they don’t know seeking resolution. Curious and interested!

Stupid, needy, irritating, toxic and generally crappy people demonstrate how foolish and limiting they can be. They’re very good at obstructionism, too. None of this is good for our well being.

Self importance I think is a significant culprit along with the pride that goes with it. Though, maybe it is that we’ve put forth effort into addressing these issues in ourselves to an extent at some juncture of our lives. When our peers don’t have the wherewithal to do that likewise, we might be insulted resenting it.

Thanks for listening. I feel a bit better already!


Runup March 6, 2013 at 8:39 am

Yes nice post here I was looking for answer like this. Well the hardest ting is to forget sometimes.. But don’t give up practice and practice even if its take years. You will succeed,and they will feel stupid 🙂


Steve June 23, 2013 at 12:39 am

I have just read your article, just what I needed to see,Good stuff, I am guilty of arguing with the ignorant and getting nowhere with them. I already knew these answers but chose to ignore the obvious simplicity of how to deal with these situations, in the end its not about making foolish people appear to be more foolish than they are by arguing with them but frustratingly trying to change their stubborn foolish opinions that I know are wrong, what a waste of time and I will try to never go there again.


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J.Lee November 23, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I live in a town full of them!


lynne May 26, 2014 at 8:07 am

Hi, great solutions. I totally agree that you can’t change people no matter what you think, so let us not waste our time. Forget about it and move on. Thanks for sharing.


Ankita July 14, 2014 at 10:44 am

that was a really superb answer…would really follow this mantra with my family members.
It has been 22 years since my childhood i just cannot manage with my mother n brother n i think the last thing i could do is just ignore them so that i could free my mind from everyday fight and the crap following that.
i have so many friends out of the house,,so so many friends..they hate them too..n i m just too freaked out with the daily quarrels n tits . i feel like dying sometimes but nobody cares.
In the house it is like either you don’t confront them and if you do they all will become a party that you are wrong.
i have tried a lot since my childhood given them lots of chances
but now thats all


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