Are there people you find yourself avoiding at the office because they’re overly talkative and leave you feeling drained afterwards? You may be dealing with an “energy vampire.” They’re toxic people who can be excessively chatty, self-centered or manipulative and their victims are emotionally exhausted after an encounter. And one of their favorite places to hunt for prey is the office.
“I think of these people as depleters because everytime you interact with them, it’s a stressful experience,” explains Tessa West, associate professor of psychology at New York University. She says some energy vampires are easier to spot than others, but these are some tried-and-true signs:
- Feeling uncertain and apprehensive before engaging with them
- Feeling stuck talking to someone who keeps you from your work goals
- Energy vampires may seem like extroverts who give input at meetings and volunteer for things, but rarely finish tasks themselves.
- They may also be obvious pessimists, the type who “walks into a room with a rain cloud over their head” and spreads negativity to their victims.
Energy vampires love introverts and people who try to see the best in others. They can also sense weakness and tend to go after people who avoid conflict and won’t try to stand up to them. So what’s the best way to stop them?
- The first step is recognizing that you’re being targeted by an energy vampire, then you have to refuse to play the game.
- If you can’t avoid interacting with them, be blunt when you communicate. West says lines like, “Okay, it’s time for you to leave, this conversation is over,” should do the trick.
- She also uses a simple, but effective trick to dodge energy vampires: she physically stands up. This helps because she says energy vampires don’t pick up on subtle cues and will linger forever.
- And like regular vampires, energy vampires stay away from sunlight. That means they’ll avoid those with bright, optimistic personalities who deflect their behavior and they’ll move on to an easier target.
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