How to Deal with a Pot-Stirrer Who Loves to Stir Up Drama

What do you call someone who stirs the pot? A pot-stirrer, of course. A pot-stirrer is someone who creates drama and tension for their amusement. For these people, stirring up drama is a pastime they can’t resist. They absolutely love to stir the pot and find any excuse to participate in such behavior.

Why are they called pot-stirrers? Because they throw their negativity, anger, and hatred at others like someone would throw ingredients and spices into a pot. These people boil with rage and animosity, like water in an old saucepan.

Why do some people like to stir up drama by stirring the pot? Many pot-stirrers are insecure, bored, or fearful. They use their words to lash at others when they feel less intelligent, beautiful, or well-liked. Some people constantly stir the pot and thrive on the drama they stir up.

I’m Not One to Stir Up Drama

I’m pretty level-headed. It takes quite a bit to stir me up, and I rarely hold a grudge. You have to commit multiple acts against me before I even start to make mental notes of the wrongs you’ve caused.

I don’t cause a lot of drama because I’m risk and drama averse. Ask my friends or family, and they’ll tell you I’m about as calm and stable as they come.

I’ve been dating (now married to) the same guy for fifteen years. I’ve lived in the same house for eleven and worked at the same company for twelve.

If you like to live with a lot of drama in your life, then the odds are that you and I aren’t friends. Some may say that makes me dull, but I’ll rightly accept that title.

People Who Stir Up Drama

Unfortunately, some extended family members love to stir up drama. I find the same people are always causing issues in my life, and I’m beyond the point of being sick and tired of it.

Some people seem to find joy in the act of pot-stirring. They love to create drama that negatively impacts the people around them. Unfortunately, their actions aren’t one-time events but repeated assaults.

I can’t go into specific issues, but I can say that the drama revolves around one person, and most of the drama involves imaginary issues in that person’s mind. 

When confronted with their behavior, this person lies to further their cause. When that doesn’t work, they pull out the victim card.

Stirring Up Drama

Unfortunately, this person’s toxic attitude is poisoning my relationship with other family members. 

I recognize that mentally healthy individuals do not stir the pot, and I would prefer to write this person out of my life.

Unfortunately, I cannot completely ignore this pot-stirrer due to other people in my life. In this case, it isn’t possible to walk away and never look back.

Since she denies her actions, pointing them out won’t stop her from creating drama, and I honestly believe it encourages her to misbehave more often.

How to Deal With a Pot Stirrer

How do you deal with a stirrer who likes to cause trouble? How do you manage a relationship with someone who feels pleasure from inciting arguments? Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks.

1. Control Your Reactions

First, I’ve learned to control my reactions to the pot stirrers’ outbursts. I do my best to appear calm no matter how bothered or upset I am. I realize that this person thrives on making me upset, so I try not to react in a visible or auditory way.

She wants to stir up drama, so I’m careful not to show my true emotions. Deep in my heart, I believe she feels emotionally high when I get angry, so I bite my tongue and keep my words held tightly inside.

2. Practice Blank Facial Expressions

I meditate and practice blank expressions whenever I know we’ll see each other face to face. Sometimes, when I refrain from reacting, the drama stops, and there is no need to continue poking if I don’t appear upset.

3. Avoid Sharing Personal Information

Over time I’ve learned to avoid telling this person anything personal. I share very little and change the topic of conversation as often as I can. 

4. Learn to Change the Subject

If I feel a flared moment rising, I redirect and diffuse the situation before an opportunity arises for this pot stirrer to stir the pot. Sometimes, I say, “I don’t want to talk about that.” Other times, I temporarily excuse myself to check on my children or go to the bathroom.

5. Focus on Positivity

When conversations turn negative, I try to flip towards positive topics. For example, if a pot-stirrer is going on and on about a coworker who can’t complete their assignments, you can say, “let’s talk about the good parts of working on this project together,” or “at least it’s Friday. What are your plans for the weekend?”

Pot-stirrers don’t like to converse with a Pollyanna who constantly points out the best things in life. If you act cheerful and excited, the pot-stirrer will change her tone or avoid your presence.

Either way is a win for you!

6. Never Be Alone with the Stirrer

I also try not to be alone with pot-stirrers because they gossip or use words against me in later conversations. So I make sure I am always with at least one other person when they are in the room.

7. Stop the Gossip

Pot-stirrers can’t stir the pot unless someone is around for them to agitate. They aim to draw others in by gossiping and telling stories about those they dislike. Don’t stand around listening to their stories, and don’t provide them with a platform to dispel their hate.

Ask others to avoid the gossip too. If your sister-in-law says mean things about you, ask your husband or children to stay away from her. If your coworker likes to engage in pot-stirring, ask your other coworkers to keep out of the break room.

8. End Your Relationship With People Who Stir the Pot

If your pot-stirrer is a coworker or close family member, you may be stuck dealing with them, but if a friend, neighbor, or distant relative is stirring up drama, it’s time to cut them out of your life.

Unfortunately, pot-stirrers don’t change their behavior. So it’s best to remove your connection to them as swiftly as possible.

Suggestions for Dealing with a Pot Stirrer

Despite my best efforts, the pot-stirrer in my life keeps creating drama, so I’d love to hear additional suggestions. I’m willing to take advice from anyone forced to deal with a pot stirrer.

If you’ve ever faced something similar, please leave a comment below. If nothing else, misery loves company 🙂

20 thoughts on “How to Deal with a Pot-Stirrer Who Loves to Stir Up Drama”

  1. I do have to say your life sounds stable and impressive. However, with the lack of description as to what she or he is doing, its hard to say exactly how the issues could or should be dealt with. We all look at it from our one view, and when one isn’t as stable as we are, its easy to pick somebody’s flaws apart and point out how they are clearly NOT put together. I may be playing devils advocate here, but just remember that you also are not perfect. I’m sure your more stable and put together, but are you passive aggressive with them? Do you really give them the chance you think you do?
    Sometimes we get into a schedule where we can count on, and unstable people (jobs, lack of routine, new friends all the time, etc), they just don’t understand why they’re judged. Anyway, around these times of holidays, I’m just trying to ask people to look inside themselves to make the changes they’d like to see. BEST ADVICE IVE EVER RECEIVED is this: “When seeking the results you want, take emotion completely out of it, and stick with the facts”. More than likely, people tend to judge others situations and that’s how they treat them.

    • That’s along the lines of what I was thinking – the author seems passive aggressive, which in itself is pot stirring.
      We can deal with histrionic types without gaslighting them for Pete’s sake. Maybe the sister is histrionic because she is regularly dealing with passive aggressive reactions and being gaslit by the author and perhaps by the family as a whole.

  2. The hell with that.

    NO ONE, i repeat, NO ONE, ranks above your marriage. If they don’t grow your marriage, you cut them off. Period.

    I don’t give a damn if it’s family, in laws, whoever.

  3. For the record, my sister in law is mad toxic. Came to our home 4 months after we got married, questioning our marriage, and then disappeared on us when we went to NYC together.(Keep in mind she’s from another country.)

    So when she asked to visit again, i said hell no. She responds by going to my wife, and then a friend of my wife who lives close so she could visit. She tells her sister “your husband doesn’t know what family is.”

    I told my wife “if you allow this, I won’t be there. You know how i feel and always told me it was justified. You can’t just switch the rules and prioritize people who obviously don’t have the best interests of our union at heart.”

    It’s a constant issue. I don’t agree that being family means you’re entitled to be involved.

  4. I’m having a similar problem at the moment with my partners brother. He’s telling my partner that I’ve been seeing and sending messages to another one of my partners brothers. My partner hasn’t talked to me about this he just makes snide remarks to me under his breath when I say “excuse me” he says “oh nothing” I know his brother is doing it because of the things I’ve overheard and the way he changed something I said in conversation about me smoking he turned around and said ” did you just say? That you want xxxx (his brothers name) to jizz on your boobs” I just rolled my eyes and ignored it. I was sitting next to my partner at the time so why isn’t he seeing through his crap? He knows I didn’t say that. Any ideas on how to deal with him?

  5. I don’t have any suggestions but I’ve definitely got one in my life and it’s really stressful! Fingers crossed those in a position to remove them from our lives will recognise the need before too much longer.

  6. My step mother loves drama whether it’s true or not. She always has. I’m always trying my best to ignore her because I need peace in my brain to be a good wife and mother.

  7. You’ve described my mother in-law. She can be very rude sometimes. Though my Husband ignores her where I just can’t stand her. If someone in my family goes somewhere on vacation she wants to know the details. If there is friction taking place between us she plays the victim. She can also gossip in such a way and say things which never took place. It happened twice with 2 different people which happens to be my father and a pastor. Where she said things referred to what she assumed what they’ve said which was never so. She also tried to cause conflict between me and my husband and between me and my mother more than once.

  8. These are excellent strategies. I like the blank expression. I use this often on the grandson I took in three years ago at the age of twelve. His pot stirring was a coping skill to keep everyone fighting amongst themselves so no one focused on him. He grew up in a very toxic and dysfunctional environment. Unfortunately, I have not been able to break him of this habit. He likes to play the victim and tells malicious lies to get sympathy
    My daughter and I have started debriefing sessions after he spends time with her and her children so we can go over anything he may have lied about it said about any of us. He doesn’t know we do this but it really helps us to stay drama free.

  9. Grey rocking, blank staring and all those things you described.
    The toxic pot-stirrer is obviously insecure and lacks some level of self awareness or they just plain don’t want to face the truth that they thrive on drama for whatever reason.
    When a pot-stirrer recently started to ‘innocently’ go about their pot stirring ways and ‘inform’ me about people that were bad mouthing me, I simply responded (with a blank stare always) ‘yeah i’m not really interested’ Also without any emotion I asked her why she would want to share that information with me, why she seems sharing that kind of conversation important?

    Pot stirrer will then flip things to make YOU look kookoo ‘what’s wrong with telling you that?’ then they get mildly miffed and enforce distancing and silent treatment, because YOU ARE THE WEIRDO that put up healthy boundaries of what kind of toxic convos you’re gonna have.

    Things are quiet again… for awhile… happy times


Leave a Comment