Do you work with an energy vampire? Someone who sucks the joy out of your and others’ work day? Who makes herself (or himself) feel better by making you or others feel worse?
If you work or live with those who intend that you and everyone join them in the dive into their misery swamp, take these steps:
Don’t rent them space in your brain
Spirit destroyers only succeed when you let them get to you – and you’re in control of that. Would you let another person kick you in the shin? If not, don’t let energy vampires verbally kick you in your gut by taking their snarky statements personally. If you eat their garbage, it becomes your garbage; if you don’t, it remains theirs.
Don’t feed them
When you spend time with or listen to those who wreak havoc with their tongues, you give them an audience. Your time and emotions are valuable to you – don’t throw them away on those who don’t deserve them.
When you turn red, stammer, look away or show other signals of visible upset, you reward them. Practice your game face. In my Beating the Workplace Bully, I teach how to develop a game face by thinking of something that gives you peace or strength.
Try it now. Start with noticing your breath – is it shallow or deep? See if you can stretch it, lengthening your inhale and relaxing into your exhale. Now, bring into your mind’s eye the face of someone you love or an image that strengthens you. For me, it’s my dad’s mom, who looks like a hillbilly Katharine Hepburn. Does changing your breathing ground you? Does your image center you or give you a shot of strength? If you can develop this tool, others’ comments may soon slide off you like eggs off Teflon.
Call them on bad behavior
When vampires toss caustic comments at you or others, you can’t ignore them or they’ll see you as easy meat. Even if they cut others down, you can’t let them have free rein in your presence, or it’s just a matter of time until they slam you too. When you work around energy vampires, there is no witness protection; when you allow nastiness, you signal that it’s okay.
On the other hand, don’t let them push you into reaction. If you respond in kind, you stoop to their level. As the old saying suggests, never get into the mud with a pig, because mud is the pig’s territory.
Instead, stop vampires in their tracks with “I’m not playing” statements such as “That’s not okay” or “Nice bait but game over.”
Do you live or work with an energy vampire? Don’t let them suck the joy from your work life.
© 2017, Lynne Curry. If you'd like an answer to your career question, it's easy. Write firstname.lastname@example.org. Lynne authored Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM, 2016) and Solutions. You can also follow Lynne@lynnecurry10 on twitter or access her other posts on SheKnows, www.workplacecoachblog.com or www.bullywhisperer.com.
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