Unlike the movies, emotional vampires walk the streets during broad daylight. They can look very glamorous, be some of the most charming and successful people, and are promoted to positions of power.
They can emerge in different ways. But what do they all have in common?
Seeking attention from others and an excessive need for validation.
It’s All About Them
They are self-centered because of how extraordinary they believe they are, or because of how helpless they are.
They immerse themselves in grand public displays, resourcefully or not, to gain attention. Think about the clown in the office who consistently makes a joke at an opportune time. Or perhaps at the Christmas end of year dinner, there’s always one person whose theatrics kick in with the high-pitched voice, arms being thrown in the air, and they’ve now become the centerpiece of the room.
Drama, drama and more drama. The emotional upheavals, the sulky attitude and lack of responsibility.
They never believe it’s their fault, they are consumed with how everyone else is the problem, and they buy in to the notion there is nothing wrong with them. They rationalize, generalize and become the victim.
Misery Breeds More Misery
It’s like internal magnetism. Misery breeds more misery. The drama, victimization and attention build to be the drivers of how they function, communicate, and interact with each other and the world, and it becomes a cycle.
Inward vs Outward
Emotional vampires always look outwardly. Looking inward would be impossible for them, as they will always need a scapegoat. They feed the blame game, searching for attention and validation.
So, what can you possibly do to break this cycle?
Rather than being reactive, hit the pause button. Plan, set priorities, and resolve dilemmas.
Responding to Emotional Vampires
How do you protect yourself from employees, colleagues or bosses who are bloodsuckers? Strengthen your mind, enhance your communication skills, and understand yourself first. Be clear about what you stand for, and what your attitude is towards work.
Take your time when responding. By doing so, you are disrupting their strategy. Drive your own bus first by slowing yourself and the situation.
Abandon the impossible ‘need to be right’, as whether you fight or flight, both can be futile. One will be right, the other wrong. Running away from the problem tends to further create divide and tension.
Take the effective path by considering more possibilities.
Be open to every interaction, but have a limiting strategy. For example, saying something along the lines of, “Unfortunately I only have 10 minutes to talk” will create an expectation of specificity and honoring time.
Whether they honor it or not may be different. However, setting consistent boundaries and clear standards are imperative to keeping emotional vampires at bay.
How Can Leaders Keep Emotional Vampires at Bay?
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