It was a little awkward at first. Bev admits, "We had some well-established patterns of communication. We had to break out of those." Over time this situation has greatly improved, and Bev looks forward to seeing her family, especially her mother. It's ironic that for years Bev had avoided having this conversation. Ultimately the avoidance was destroying the most important relationships in her life.

Bev has this to say about the energy she added to the dysfunction: "For days before family events I imagined how horrible it was going to be, and for days after I seethed with anger about how horrible it was. I would leave my parent's home huffing and puffing and promising never to return. Not dealing with it was making me toxic!"

With all of this in mind, sometimes the toxic behavior is not our problem. When asked how to handle a toxic person, my first questions are always: "What is the impact on you or your results? How does this behavior get in your way?"

If the answer is, "It doesn't," then my advice is walk away. We certainly don't need to go looking for toxic people, and we don't get to appoint ourselves the behavior police! We lose credibility and waste a great deal of energy when we involve ourselves in situations that do not concern us.

Excerpted from Ready, Set... Grow! (Excel Books, 2009). Copyright 2009 by Dondi Scumaci. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Dondi Scumaci is an international speaker, author, and expert in leadership development, communication, talent management, and mentoring. She is known for high energy on the platform and for the dramatic results her presentations inspire. She is the author of Designed for Success and lives in San Antonio with her husband, Scumaci, and son, Tabor.