How to Deal with Emotional Vampires

Recently, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a while in the produce section of the local grocery store.  We hugged, caught up on our families and chatted for a moment.  Then I asked how her work was going.

“Our company was bought out and now we have a new management team.  Honestly, it’s not going well,” she said with a sigh.

He said this… She did that…  Workloads are insane…

“Can you believe it?  Then he turned around and said the exact opposite to the one person in the office who can’t keep a secret.”  She paused, looked down and said, “Idiot.”

I’m pretty sure my head imploded right there next to the oranges.

I’ve never been a huge fan of drama and gossip, but my tolerance for it is at an all-time low.  I find when I’m around “emotional vampires,” I lose energy and often end up in a bad mood.  What’s the good in that?

Here are a few things I’ve learned.

Don’ts

Don’t feed the beast and encourage the drama.  Off limit comments:

“OMG, how do you get anything done?”
“Your Manager needs to get off his butt and do something about this.”

Don’t say something you can’t take back.  Off limits:

“Seriously?  Is that all you have to worry about?”
“You should be glad you have a job!”

Here are a few tactics that worked for me.

Dos

After realizing you’re going down a negative rabbit hole, acknowledge the discomfort your friend/co-worker/family member is going through.  Say something empathetic such as, “It sounds like there’s a lot going on.  Transition is always hard.”  Then ask a question about another topic that takes the conversation in a different direction.  If that doesn’t work, try, “Forgive me, I need to run.  I’m behind schedule.”  Or something to that effect.

If you’re cornered when this happens, in your office/home for example, stand up and transition the conversation while walking into another room.

Negative situations are real and they have a place for each of us.  Venting is also necessary to release stress or pressure you may be feeling.  Holding it in and releasing the venom in a public place may not be the best, most productive strategy.

If you’ve recently created this drama, know that we’re all imperfect and have released our feelings inappropriately at times.  Forgive yourself and move on.  Your closest friends will let you vent privately and offer help.  You may want to also consider who is not supportive and/or draining your energy and limit your time with them.

Lindsay Dodgson with Business Insider recently wrote, “Rather than bringing company and comfort to your life, a toxic friendship will bring exhaustion and frustration.”

Nobody needs unnecessary exhaustion and frustration added to their life.

Let’s recognize this situation for what it is.  Leave drama at the door and find constructive ways to handle a bad situation.  Figure out how you can have a more positive impact and be a part of the solution.  You and your friends will appreciate it.

Be a part of the conversation not just read about it.

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