Stress and Energy Vampires

Dr. Andy McCabe

Stress and Energy Vampires

By Dr. Andy McCabe

First, I’d like to qualify you to read this article!

If you answer “Yes!” to any of the following three questions, this article about stress and “energy vampires” is for you. If your answers were all “No!” don’t bother. You don’t have enough pain and you’re among the few fortunate ones.

  • Do you dread going to work, especially on Monday, and find little or no satisfaction in what you do?
  • Do you worry about losing your job or… not getting the pay raise, or  recognition, you feel you deserve?
  • Do you work with people who might be described as “difficult”?

If you’re still with me, let’s take each of the three questions and see if we can come up with some helpful hints that could make your life happier, healthier and more financially fulfilling.

If you dread going to your job, write down exactly what it is that turns you off. Is it the traveling to and from work, a task or specific tasks, the salary, the type of work, the managers or co-workers? Or is it possibly… you? Yes, sometimes it’s others who make our life difficult and sometimes it’s just…us!

In order to fix something, first you have to identify whatever is wrong and… be as honest as you can about it. I say, “…as you can” because, if you’re the problem, you may not want to admit it. If you have a mother or father who loves you and is recognized by family and friends as being pretty together, ask them. They’ll probably be more honest than your shrink! If you don’t have a mother or father who fit into that category, ask a friend who really loves you and definitely not someone you used to date.

As you continue your evaluation, you might have fun with the following process and, at the same time, learn something valuable. If you wish, get yourself a cup of coffee, tea, or your favorite beverage, kick back and write down your thoughts about your job. Ben Franklin advised folks when making a decision about a problem to make two columns on a sheet of paper and write in one column… the positives and the other… the negatives about the area of concern. In this case, your job! You may be surprised at what flows out. In completing this process, you might also wish to follow it by asking yourself some questions: Do you procrastinate? Are you habitually late? Do you gossip? Do you leave early? Do you not me have difficulty focusing or meeting deadlines. Do you have ongoing disputes with supervisors or, problems getting along with co-workers? Ask yourself what you think you need to do to become better at your job. Write it down! You can review it later.

One woman while completing this exercise discussed it with her best girlfriend who enlightened her with, “Marge, and you know I love you. You expect everyone to do things just like you. If folks don’t follow Marge’s book of rules, you don’t like them. Your life would be much easier if you could accept that all of us are different, for a variety of reasons, and there are lots of ways to achieve the same goal!” Her admonition is appropriate for both men and women!

If you’re worried about losing your job, or not getting the rewards you deserve, the thoughts can become obsessive and take control of your life on and off the job. So, what can you do about it? Dale Carnegie, the legendary self help guru, said, “If you can accept the worst possible scenario and realize you can cope with it, you take the pressure off and can work mindfully and energetically to make it not happen. Also, if the job just doesn’t seem to be what you want, need or expect, what actions can you take to bring about desired change? Sometimes, men and women forget they have the power to make changes because they convince themselves there are no other possibilities. Asking a job coach for their guidance can make a difference with job related issues and may help you get the raise you want. It’s impossible for any of us to see ourselves through the eyes of others! A great job coach can literally worth his or her weight in gold.

Also, are you positive you know what’s best for you? Maybe you don’t belong where you are, doing whatever you do? If you’d like to access information related to what you’re interested in and suited for, you may wish to contact a program like They specialize in helping job seekers find the career that fits their professional passion. A friend I knew took the assessment and found out why he disliked his job as a school administrator. He learned that his interests and personality characteristics were far better suited for a job that allowed him to be more creative, self directive and entrepreneurial. Kolbe is also Oprah approved! Dr. Kolbe had been a guest on her show.

If you work with people who make your life miserable, I’m going to tell you a secret.

They’re usually not happy campers and many of them enjoy wreaking havoc because it gives them a sense of power and control. Some of these folks should dress up on Halloween because they are what I like to call energy vampires. If you’re interested in some specifics for dealing with the vampires, Robert M. Bramson, Ph.D. in his book Coping with Difficult People identifies seven different types: hostile aggressives, complainers, the silent unresponsive, super agreeables, the always negative, know it all experts and stallers. I’ve successfully used his techniques many times with a wide variety of clients.

An example of one of the energy depleting types, hostile aggressives, will give you an idea of how his system works. This category includes three distinct types: Exploders, Sherman Tanks and Snipers. The Exploders pound the table and scare folks with their outbursts. The Sherman Tanks just roll right over you and behave as if whatever you say doesn’t matter. The Snipers act friendly to your face and talk about you behind your back. For the Exploders and Tanks, you can loudly say, “Stop” Wait a second or two and if they keep going say it again, “Stop!” or, if you choose, you can let them do their thing and then …calmly say why you disagree and about what. It’s important to remember when interacting with Exploders and Sherman Tanks that if you don’t stand up to them, they will not respect you. With Snipers, you have to meet with them face to face and tell them what you heard they said about you. They’re going to deny it because they’re usually cowards; however, they’ll think twice about doing it again.

For me, the universal antidote for the really crazy ones, those that nothing seems to work with, is to disconnect and pull out the plug by avoiding them as often as you can. If you can’t avoid them, make sure you make eye contact and say what you think needs to be said in a calm and direct manner. Regardless of how they respond, stay happy and professional and, after you stick up for yourself, be nice. Kindness is the silver bullet energy vampires dread because it showers sunlight on their darkness and takes away their energy!

If you’d like to learn more about coping with difficult people or, schedule a life coaching session or seminar, workshop or keynote, email Dr. McCabe at or phone, 201-401-4227.

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