If you’ve ever watched the FX tv mockumentary series ‘What We Do in the Shadows,’ you probably noticed that character Colin Robinson who plays a literal ‘energy vampire’ draining the energy out of everyone around him might seem (just a little bit) like someone who works in your office. You know the person we mean. The one who has the longest stories. The one who tells you about the dream they had last night. The one who’s polling everyone in the office about which MLB game they should buy tickets to this season.
You know the one. And we know you’re a nice person. Your parents taught you to be polite. You certainly don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But we also know you’ve got a job to do and that it can be tough to do it when you always have to carefully plan your coffee breaks so you don’t get trapped for fifteen minutes looking at pictures of antique cars or eighteenth century woodcarving tools. So we’ve got three tips to help you cope with the co-worker who may unintentionally draining your energy.
1 – Be preoccupied
This is a nice, vague way to sidestep being pulled into a conversation you don’t want. When you can tell that certain co-worker is trying to catch your attention or engage with you, pull out your phone or tap your head. Mumble about not knowing how to deal with something today. If they start talking to you anyway, just say, “I’m sorry, Dave, I’ve got to get back to my desk to deal with this mess. What a day!”
You don’t have to say what the mess is. The mess might actually just be avoiding Dave, but he doesn’t have to know that. The key is to make it clear you’re not a good target today.
2 – Carry a prop
Be like the co-worker who always brought a recycling tips brochure to the break room in case anyone waylaid her. The minute your office energy vampire tries to engage, take over the conversation and say, “Dave, I’m so happy to catch you. How are your recycling habits? I’d love to show you this brochure.”
Who’s the energy vampire now, Dave? The thing about energy vampires is that they rarely have much interest in giving you their energy in return. So this is a strategy that can pay off in the long term by making you an unattractive target. Plus, you might actually do some good for a worthy cause while you’re at it!
3 – Just say no
This one can be tough. But with some energy vampires, it’s the only way. When Dave wanders over to ask your opinion on the three different kinds of wool socks he’s considering purchasing, just hold your hand up and say, “I wish you luck, Dave, but I’m not really interested in talking about this.”
You might feel a little harsh, but you can say it kindly and with a smile. Future you will probably thank you for it!