Executive Vitality: Beware of Energy Vampires

Beware of Energy VampiresEerie as it sounds, modern psychology and business theory have identified some people as “energy vampires.” Energy vampires are the ones who suck the energy right out of you. Even the idea of being in the same meeting with them, makes you feel exhausted or overwhelmed. To avoid being drained, you don’t have to carry garlic, a wooden stake, or religious symbols around with you. We are here to shed a little daylight on the matter and to give you some tips to consider as weapons in the fight against energy vampires.

  1. First, identify who is giving you energy and who is draining your energy. Have you ever noticed how some people bring a sense of happiness and uplift to your work life while others bring stress? Is there a certain individual (board member, employee, boss, co-worker or customer) who, in just about every situation, leaves you feeling exhausted, anxious or otherwise distressed? If you detect a pattern, what do you need to work out about yourself to better handle certain types of people?
  2. Recognize the signs. How do you feel? Are you feeling tight? Tired? How long does it take to start feeling “drained” by this individual and what are the triggers?
  3. Decide how you can distance.  Can you leave physically, or do you have to depart mentally? If you can physically depart, we recommend that you do, so you can regroup and fortify your boundary. If you can’t leave, we recommend you think of something pleasant while breathing deeply and donning your “energy boundary suit” — picture a protective shell, or the Michelin tire man’s tires. It is OK to say, “I am going to walk over there and talk with Joe now,” or “I understand your concerns and I can’t provide any answers.” Avoid reacting.  Be proactive.  Step back.  You may say something like, “I see the problem. I can become involved in trying to solve it when you can engage in some creative brainstorming,” or whatever seems appropriate and conveys the message that the other party needs to engage constructively.
  4. Figure out how to re-charge once you have departed or distanced. What is your best methodology—e.g., 30 seconds of deep breathing, a nice walk, journaling what happened for your eyes only?
  5. Determine your energy maintenance strategy for this person. Maybe you will only speak to them when you are well-rested and not hungry.  Maybe you will only discuss certain things with them.  Maybe someone else needs to be present.  How do you ensure that you have the least probability of engaging this person?

Keep in mind that sometimes groups, teams, mobs, or larger parties can have a similar impact on you. The most important thing is to notice the signs before they get too concerning and have a strategy to exit, recharge, and reframe.

You will find that once you are no longer impacted by them, vampires are not attracted to you any more anyway.

Are you alert to your energy vampires? Are you practicing ways to vanquish energy vampires?

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