I know what you’re thinking as you’re sitting there on your couch watching the latest episode of True Blood, the hit TV series about vampires. Or maybe you’ve just finished screening the latest installment of the Twilight movie franchise. You’re thinking, “Oh, isn’t this nice! I can escape into Hollywood’s world of the macabre where vampires flash their six-packs more than their fangs, and I can just park it here on my comfy couch, safe and sound.”
Well, guess what? You’re not safe. None of us is. Those vampires are real. I don’t mean the ones in Tinseltown — I’m talking about the vampires that live among us. They’ve been here since the dawn of humanity and they’re not going away any time soon.
I’m talking about the people you might work with, live with or live next door to, who suck the energy right out of you. They’re called energy vampires and we all know they can be a real pain in the neck.
As much as I like to have fun with the whole topic of energy vampires, they can be a genuine problem. The best way to deal with them is to identify what they look like and then take the necessary steps to fend them off.
Energy vampires come in all shapes and forms but they all have one thing in common: They feel that they are victims. Many of them don’t even realize their energy-draining powers, but it’s tough for the rest of us not to notice them.
Clues to help you recognize energy vampires:
- If someone is constantly whining, complaining and moaning about how the world is conspiring against him or her and you’re left feeling emotionally drained, then that person is an energy vampire.
- If someone continually asks you for advice but never acts on any of your recommendations, or you get the feeling your suggestions are going in one ear and out the other, then that person is an energy vampire.
- If someone is constantly talking about him or herself with no interest in others and the non-stop chatter makes you feel like your head is going to explode, then that person is an energy vampire.
- If someone is in drama-queen mode 24/7 and spends most of the day calling, emailing or texting you with minute-by-minute crisis updates, then that person is an energy vampire.
(By the way: If someone shows up at your office wearing a black cape, fangs and a widow’s peak — and it’s not Halloween — that might be an actual vampire.)
Five ways to ward off their evil powers:
- Don’t run. As much as you may want to look the other way, they will eventually find you. You’re better off to stand up to them and take them on.
- Don’t feed them. Playing into their self-pity isn’t going to help. If you constantly agree with their complaints (just for the sake of getting through the encounter), then you are essentially feeding the beast. Don’t be an enabler.
- Just say no. Where it’s appropriate, have the courage to tell energy vampires that you have no interest in listening. Let them know the impact they’re having on you and end the discussion. If they want to adjust and engage you in a meaningful dialogue, then that’s great. If they don’t, they’re confirming what you already know.
- Offer selective support. There is nothing wrong with showing empathy or support as long as it is not counter-productive. One trick that might help is shifting their focus from problem to solution. Offering a solution and sending them off with the promise that you will not engage in rehashing the old but that you’re happy to discuss the new often works.
- Not your problem. As much as you may want to help (or not), the issues forced upon you by an energy vampire are not your problem, so keep it that way. Nothing discourages these energy-sucking creatures more than being rebuffed.
Your time and energy are precious, so why waste them on things that don’t really matter? I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t consider many issues that friends, family or co-workers bring forward; you should. But allowing someone to drain you constantly of your energy can have a serious impact on your life.
When your energy level drops it can create a multitude of problems for you and those around you. Some people literally get sick by getting caught up in the stress and problems of others. It can also dramatically affect our relationships with others.
As crazy as it sounds, sometimes less giving leads to more living. If you’re going to give, give to the people who can appreciate and benefit from it the most. Rarely are those people energy vampires.
On a lighter note, if all else fails and you want to keep these people away, try garlic. I hear it’s worked on vampires for centuries and in my experience, people seem to keep their distance from me after I enjoy a Caesar salad.
Tips for dealing with people at work:
- Would you like a LATTE with that complaint?
- Bridging the gap in multi-generational teams
- Seven things your boss wants you to knowSeven things that bosses need to know
When was the last time you reviewed your personal economic plan?
Talking with your advisor can help ensure you’re on track to meet your financial and retirement goals. Don’t have an advisor? Visit Sun Life Financial Advisor Match to help you find one in your area.