The quality of our relationships effect our health. Our relationships are governed by a give and take of energy. Some coworkers and colleagues make us more electric or at ease. Yet others suck the life right out of us. As a physician and energy specialist, I want to verify that energy vampires roam the workplace sapping our exuberance. With patients and in my workshops, I've seen their fang marks and the carnage they've strewn. But most of us don't know how to identify and cope with vampires, so we mope around as unwitting casualties, enduring a preventable fatigue. Here are some types of energy vampires to watch for at work and ways to deal with them:
Vampire #1 The Sob Sister: Every time you talk to her, she's whining. She adores a captive audience. She's the coworker with the "poor me" attitude who's more interested in complaining than solutions. How to Protect Yourself: Set clear boundaries. Limit the time you spend talking about her complaints. With a firm but kind attitude say, "I'm sorry, I can only talk for a few minutes today." And go on with your work.
Vampire #2 The Drama Queen: This vampire has a flair for exaggerating small incidents into off-the-chart dramas. My patient Sarah was exhausted when she hired a new employee who was always late for work. One week, he had the flu and "almost died." Next, his car was towed, again! After this employee left her office, Sarah felt tired and used. How to Protect Yourself: A drama queen doesn't get mileage out of equanimity. Stay calm. Take a few deep breaths. This will help you not get caught up in the histrionics. At work, set kind but firm limits. Say, "You must be here on time to keep your job. I'm sorry for all your mishaps, but work comes first."
Vampire #3 The Constant Talker or Joke Teller: He has no interest in your feelings; he's only concerned with himself. Initially, he might seem entertaining, but when the talking doesn't stop, you begin to get tired. You wait for an opening to get a word in edgewise but it never comes. Or he might physically move in so close he's practically breathing on you. You edge backwards, but without missing a beat, he steps closer again. "One patient said about such a coworker, 'Whenever I spot this man, my colon goes into spasm." How to Protect Yourself: Know that these people don't respond to nonverbal cues. You must speak up and interrupt. Listen for a few minutes, then from a neutral place politely say, "I'm a quiet person, so please excuse me for not wanting to talking a long time" a much more constructive tack than "Shut up, you're driving me crazy!"
Vampire #4 The Fixer Upper: This vampire is desperate for you to fix her endless problems and at all hours. She turns you into her therapist. At lunch, she'll make a b-line to your desk, monopolizing your free time. Her neediness lures you in. How to Protect Your Energy: Do not become the "rescuer." Show empathy but resist offering solutions. Be supportive but tell her, "I'm confident you'll find the right solution" or sensitively suggest that she seek a qualified professional for help
Vampire #4 The Blamer: This vampire has a sneaky way of making you feel guilty or lacking for not getting things just right. Whenever my patient Marie, a book editor, sees her boss she's on guard; her boss had a way of cutting her down that saps her energy. She always has a negative comment to make. How to Protect Yourself: Try this visualization. Around this person, imagine yourself surrounded by a cocoon of white light. Think of it as a protective covering that keeps you from being harmed. Tell yourself that you are safe and secure here. The cocoon filters out the negativity so it can't deplete you
Vampire #5 Go For The Jugular Fiend: This type is vindictive and cuts you down with no consideration for your feelings. He says things like, "Forget that job. It's out of your league." These jabs can be so hurtful it's hard to get them out of your head. How To Protect Yourself: Eliminate this kind of person from your life whenever possible. For a boss who isn't leaving any time soon, try a visualization that puts you at a distance from them, and refuse to ingest the poison. If you don't want to switch jobs, understand he's a wounded person and release the habit of taking his behavior personally.
Judith Orloff M.D. is a psychiatrist and intuitive, author of the new book "Positive Energy: Ten Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear Into Vibrance, Strength and Love." She is also author of the bestsellers "Guide to Intuitive Healing" and "Second Sight."
Adapted from "Positive Energy: Ten Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress and Fear Into Vibrance, Strength, and Love." Join Dr. Orloff for a special workshop September 30-October 1, 2005 in Rye Brook, New York on "The Power of Intuition and Positive Energy to Heal." To register visit: www.theconferenceoworks.com or www.drjudithorloff.com or call 800-395-8445 X154.