In horror movies, there are always clear, albeit bizarre, ways to spot a vampire, No thinking, hate garlic, terrified of light, keep a coffin in the house? So run away. But how to spot the type of vampire that feeds not on blood but on energy?
We have all encountered these types of emotional vampires in our lives. It’s the co-worker who can’t stop talking about themselves, the acquaintance who always leaves you exhausted even after a short meeting, or that guy in the office next door who drags you off to slutty parties. an hour about every little annoyance in the office. They love drama, but you’re just wasting valuable time (and energy) that you could be putting into making your business a success.
As artist and author Austin Kleon noted, you can definitely identify an emotional vampire with a simple test (no garlic or cross needed): “If after spending time with someone, you feel Exhausted and exhausted, that person is a vampire. If after hanging out with someone you still feel energized, that person is not a vampire.”
So what do you do once you spot an emotional vampire that’s taking up too much of your time and energy? Self The magazine recently spoke to a handful of therapists about the emotional vampire phenomenon and came away with this simple five-step plan to neutralize their toxic effects. (Check out the full article for more on the psychology and motivations of emotional vampires).
1. Opt for empathy.
Your first instinct when meeting an emotional vampire might be to simply roll your eyes and walk away. This can work if the person is someone you’ll never see again, but if it’s a work colleague, the experts have another suggestion: try a little empathy. Sure, their overdramatization and self-absorption are annoying, but these behaviors are often just reactions to the same kind of insecurities and anxieties we all struggle with. Recognizing this is more likely to give you the insight (and stamina) you need to negotiate problematic long-term relationships.
2. Validate and redirect.
We all complain sometimes. The healthy way to do this is to expose the problem and genuinely seek solutions. The emotional vampire way of doing this is to simply moan endlessly while always seeking more validation. That’s why therapist Daryl Appleton suggests that your best bet in the face of an emotional vampire’s endless rants is to gently guide them into a better mode of complaining.
“If your colleague is complaining about a particular work issue, for example, Dr. Appleton suggests saying something like, ‘That sounds really difficult. Have you thought about what you’re going to do?’ Or maybe, ‘Did you talk to [the person they are complaining about] directly about it? Did your manager have any advice? It can remind them that they have the opportunity to take action to change their situation,” says Self.
3. Don’t feed the beast.
You might think that vigorously agreeing with an emotional vampire might get him what he wants to go away. Not so. Like the classic Bloodsucker variety, Emotional Vampires have an endless thirst, only theirs is for drama. The more you give them, the more they will demand. Do your best to remain emotionally empty when interacting with them (some call this the gray rock method, because try to look like a gray rock as much as possible when interacting with toxic people.)
It’s not being rude, it’s “teaching the energy vampire that you’re not going to be a reliable source of energy,” said fellow therapist Amber Samuels. Self.
4. Set consistent boundaries.
While empathy can give you the stamina to deal with the inevitable emotional vampires, that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate behavior that drains you. Continue to teach your emotional vampire that you are useless as a victim by being firm with your boundaries. Tell them at the start of a conversation, “I only have X minutes to talk”, for example, and stick to your guns.
5. Focus on self-care.
The point of this whole process is to stay sane (and keep your schedule on track). It’s totally fine to tell an emotional vampire outright that as long as you do it nicely, according to therapists Self spoke to. Go ahead and tell your fellow drama queens that you’re behind the times and really need to be on your toes for a while. Besides being true, it also encourages them to find more constructive ways to deal with their problems.
Unleash the emotional vampires that lurk the hallways of your office and they will wear you down. Follow the simple steps above and you should be able to conserve your energy for more useful tasks than feeding their egos and taming their anxieties.