You work hard, and there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done, it seems. You do everything you can think of to prioritize, schedule time for important things and work efficiently. Whatever is within your control, you’ve mastered it.
Often, you’d be able to get more done if it weren’t for that co-worker, too. You may be in the unfortunate situation to be in regular contact with an “Energy Vampire”. These are people who seem to get your attention at the most inopportune times. They draw you into a conversation that leaves you feeling exhausted. You’ve probably tried to graciously get away, but you feel trapped. An energy vampire may interrupt you at every turn, be the purveyor of office gossip or take way too long to leave your desk because they have “one more thing” that is so important. You leave the interaction feeling depleted and off-kilter.
You can’t change other people, but you can take actions to get back control of your time. Here are practical steps you can take to minimize the distraction and keep your energy protected from this type of difficult co-worker.
Types of Energy Vampires at Work
First, you need to know is what you’re dealing with. Energy vampires come in many forms, but a few types are more common than others.
This person has a poor concept of personal boundaries. He or she really just isn’t aware of what’s appropriate to share at work and what isn’t and lacks an understanding about the context of your relationship. Whether it’s deeply personal information (“I think my boyfriend is cheating on me”), or about a mutual co-worker’s food choices, you really aren’t interested. They take up unreasonable amounts of your time talking and seem to think you are closer friends than you assume (or want to be). These individuals are highly attuned to rejection, so much so that they can’t seem to detach and move on when necessary. Whether you like it or not, you get sucked in and need to extract yourself from the situation.
What to do: Be kind, but short. Make sure you are clearly communicating. For instance “I don’t feel comfortable talking about so-and-so” or “This sounds important to you, but can we focus on A, B and C?”. Complement your words with strong non-verbal signals too. Stand up and motion towards closing your office door, start typing or walk away.