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Staying Away from the Workplace Vampires

Updated: May 14, 2023

One of my most favourite books is Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon, it is a brilliant piece of writing where he emphasizes the importance of showcasing your work to the world. There is a small section in this book titled 'The Vampire Test'. Here he talks about people who possess a certain quality that when you hang out with them, they suck all of your energy and leave you depleted. Then they use that same energy for themselves while you are left feeling tired and drained.

When you encounter such an individual in your day-to-day life it's easier to escape from their clutches by making one excuse or the other because you usually have control over the situation you are in. You might only meet such people after weeks or months so you don't really mind even if they suck a little bit of energy out of you during that meeting.

But when it comes to your job, it is easier said than done. You have to deal with the same colleagues and bosses every single day. You have to work with them on important projects. You have to talk to them every day, listen to their opinions, negotiate with them at times, and even eat with them during your breaks.

This makes it increasingly difficult to escape from their clutches because you really don't have anywhere to run, you have no other options. You dread having meetings with them, crying internally at the thought of them continuously speaking while you want them to just shut up. You cannot be rude to them because they are your co-workers, you cannot say no to them because they might feel you are avoiding them, and then it would create an awkward aura in the workplace between you two which you want to avoid at all costs.

And after a whole day's work when they have squeezed out all of your energy, you finally breathe a sigh of relief as you walk toward your home for some quiet time and some peace of mind. Then you prepare yourself to face all of it all over again the next day!

Hold it right there!

I can't see you in this misery day after day so I will share with you a few tricks that you can use whenever you are sucked into a situation where your vampire co-workers loom about with their fangs out, ready to deprive you of all that precious strength and energy that you work so hard building up.

Image showing a vampire coffin to emphasize staying away from workplace vampires who suck your energy.

Now there is a difficulty level associated with each of the types of workplace vampires listed below so we'll move from the highest difficulty level to the lowest.

If the Vampire in Question is Part of Your Team

This is the most difficult person to shake off because there are only a limited amount of things you can do in order to grab some peace for yourself when you are working with a toxic person who is part of your team.

First and foremost, communication. You would need to keep the communication with this person constant in order to avoid that awkward zone that we touched upon briefly above. You want to make sure that there are breaks in between communication for you to recover. Our focus is going to be more on recovery rather than avoidance in this case since you cannot completely avoid your teammate when you two are working together on a daily basis.

During meetings, try to take the seat which will allow you to have your face away from them and towards the person who is running the meeting. Do this every now and then. (This might sound like a piece of stupid advice but it works, trust me!)

When asking for suggestions, always keep it brief and to the point. The longer the conversation drags on, the more you will feel yourself getting exhausted.

If they ask you to join them for a cup of coffee and you don't feel like it, don't go. It is perfectly fine to turn them down every once in a while. You just need to keep the balance in place.

Avoid toxic conversations, if they want to gossip about their boss to you or whine about another colleague and you are not interested, try to divert such conversations to a different subject.

This will allow you a breather in between instead of completely robbing you of your strength.

If the Vampire in Question is Your Boss

You might have thought this was a tough one but it might not be as bad as you think. Dealing with one's boss can be daunting, especially if they eat your brains every time you meet them.

The best way to go about this is to be in charge of the conversation, do not let your boss direct the conversation or at least try not to. Even if he is the one who called for a meeting. Ask in advance what the meeting is going to be about and prepare for it. This way you will be able to keep the flow of conversation going as per your pace. And what's more, your boss might even be happy to see you being so proactive. Just remember not to overdo it. Again, keeping a balance is important.

If the Vampire in Question is a Colleague at Work but Part of Another Team

This is by far the easiest one to deal with and you have plenty of options to take care of these situations. As they are not part of your team, they might not be aware of your meetings, work, or projects (unless you tell them) and you can use these as an excuse to not see them or have brief meetups with them if you are not in the mood. This will allow you to always reach out to them afterward in case you feel like they have started perceiving you as being too distant.

Finally, if YOU are actually the workplace vampire for your colleagues.

Yes, it may very well be you who is causing your co-workers to suffer during your conversations and you might not know it. Well, I would just say this, be mindful of the people you communicate with whether it's your boss, teammate, or another colleague. Be conscious about the duration of your conversations with your co-workers. Keep an eye out for signs of boredom from the person in front of you. Talk less about yourself and more about the problem at hand and you will do well.

Remember, your energy is precious, your happiness is precious, take care of it and take care of yourself. Focus all your strength and energy into growing your career.

Happy working!

- The Other Working Woman

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