Who doesn’t know them? That one colleague or friend who is constantly complaining? The one who always responds to a polite “How are you?” with lamentations, is resistant to all offers of help as well as suggestions for improvement and who, like a broken record, goes on about how unfair life is, how terrible person X behaved towards them and how generally everyone seems to be out to get them?
I call them energy vampires – and do my best to avoid them at all costs.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from being one of those happy-go-lucky personae myself. It does take a lot of willpower and vigor to be the always diplomatic colleague who offers constructive feedback and will always help out whomever asks for support. Some days, I don’t feel like being friendly at all.
But then, it won’t help anyone if I’m not. My work will neither be different nor less if I approach it with an unhappy attitude – and the results, as well as my work mates, will suffer from it. Also, it’s a vicious cycle of what goes around comes around – if I’m grumpy, with a deep frown all day, people will react differently than if I’m putting on a relaxed face (even when it really is an act of “putting on”).
Needless to say, in my private life, I find it a lot easier to avoid contact with those types of persons than in my job. Even though I don’t work in an open office (yet) we still share offices. Due to my job as an executive assistant there are constantly people coming in and out of the room or calling or emailing and not all of them will display a work ethic or general attitude that meets my standards of communication and general behaviour.
That’s mostly ok since troubleshooting is (not an official but still) part of my job description. What’s not ok, is when people come in only to dump their emotional crap – excuse my language, but this gets me really worked up – at my desk so they will feel better about it, then turn around and leave.
There is still ample room for improvement in my life – and yes, this partly is a situation-induced rant, but I really want you to be aware of energy vampires. Especially those of you who – like myself – see it as one of their primary responsibilities to help (be that in your job or your private life – or both) and “play well with others”. Don’t bleed yourself out by trying to fix what cannot or simply doesn’t want to be fixed! Be strict about your time and how and with whom you spend it.
Be selfish if you must.
You don’t have to impolitely snub anyone. However, it is your right to stand your ground and let others – be it peers or supervisors* – know respectfully that you are not available as a waste basket, thankyouverymuch.
Thus said, keep smiling It confuses people. No, seriously, putting on a happy face, even and especially when you don’t feel like it, will help set your brain to happy mode and gradually improve your mood. Don’t believe me? Just try it!
If all else fails and you desperately need motivation, try Mary Poppins
Are you aware of any of those “energy vampires” in your life? How do you deal with them? I will much appreciate if you could share your experience and insight in the comments below.
*I am fully aware how tricky and/ or uncomfortable these types of conversations can be especially with people you have to work with, and especially when they are “above” you hierarchically. I’ve been there multiple times. But let me state that more often than not, if you approach people with openness and without reproach, it will pay off. At least temporarily.