As so many professionals know, often the higher you climb, the more toxic and abusive people you encounter as your network grows.
Before you're tempted to sink to the level of the next bully-in-a-business-suit you encounter, allow these points to give you a glimpse into their head and heart.
1. Never underestimate the pathology of the human ego.
Ego-driven people are all around us; in fact, you're one of them.
Your ego has played a healthy role in your desire to be successful and work hard.
The toxic people you encounter have an unhealthy, unbridled, uncontrolled amount of ego that is causing them to engage in the most trite and onerous forms of egotism while being completely obliviousness to the needs of others.
So many people at or near the top of the pyramid in business are egomaniacs, so be prepared: they have a tendency to make anything and everything about them--including your accomplishments.
2. Abuse is unacceptable.
I can't tell you how many times I've mentored young professionals who rationalize away a boss or superior who uses abuse-based tactics to get them to work harder, or who justify an abuse-based work environment.
These young people try to convince me that it helps them "toughen up" or "cut their teeth" or "adapt to the high stakes world" of industry X when their boss yells, mocks, or belittles them.
That is complete garbage. By excusing such abusive treatment, they are doing their part to enable it.
I coach many professionals who work in abusive and contemptuous environments--I help them to develop body attitudes of unshakeable confidence and grit to confront and neutralize any problematic situation with strength, grace, and ease.
By responding to bullying behavior with strength, the superior is going to know that their attempts to feel empowered or let off steam via such severe dysfunction, simply isn't going to work with you.
3. Yep, some people are jealous of you.
Yes, you. Many times the abusive boss or toxic colleagues see something in you that they know doesn't exist in themselves.
You have more friends, more optimism, more creativity. You handle stress better. People like you more.
Whatever it is about you that the toxic person does not possess, that sense of lack is often motivating their foul behavior towards you.
Jealousy (and with it personal misery) is often the biggest motivators of the worst behavior.
4. Fear wears many disguises.
Fear does not always manifest itself through anxiety or hysteria. Sometimes the smuggest person in the room is the most fearful.
In business, I find that often the most hostile person is the one most laden with fear.
These are the people who try to make you wrong, so they can be right. They exclude you, so they can feel like they matter. They belittle you so they can have a whiff of empowerment.
The temptation to jump into the ring with these toxic creatures will definitely lessen over time.
You don't want to fire back at these people because the kickback could knock you off your path and your focus.
The best way to fire back is to do so with your work, your ingenuity and your accomplishments, as a seasoned professional.
A dear friend said the truest piece of advice: "Once the haters come out, you know you've made it."
This article was originally posted on Inc.