Fostering the Spirit of Entrepreneurship – Managing Emotional Vampires [column]

THIS week’s column is inspired by conversations I had with a number of people in Windhoek about the challenges they face in the workplace. I am particularly interested in this topic, because this time of the year people are usually exhausted due to demanding work schedules.

The biggest challenge for employers and employees are ’emotional vampires’ or otherwise people who drain others emotionally. They usually have nothing positive to say about others. How will you know that you are close to an emotional vampire? Sometimes when you meet such a person your eyelids really get heavy and there will be a sudden change in your mood. They go to work just to cause trouble for others, because they are usually wounded people.

It is important to point out that emotional vampires are not evil people. These people are called emotional vampires, because they usually see themselves as victims who are always being ill treated by the boss or by the economy in general. They have a negative outlook on everything. I have to remind you that we should at all times try not to avoid such people, but try to manage them. Any business venture always has three core components namely people, resources and opportunities. It almost becomes impossible not to come into contact with people in our work surroundings. Emotional vampires can have a tremendous impact on productivity and the bottom line of an organisation. Let me take you through three main emotional vampires you will come across at work, they are the narcissist, the victim, and the controller andor splitter.

The Narcissist: Narcissist has a ‘me first attitude.’ Everything in the work environment is usually about them. They will never see the other person’s point of view. They usually have a limited capacity to feel for other people. If a narcissist doesn’t get what they want, they usually become cold or punish themselves. With a narcissist you will never get anything in return. They do not believe in reciprocity. My aice is to manage a narcissist by keeping your expectations very realistic. You can’t expect much reciprocity with an ’emotional vampire’ who is a narcissist. Never ever link your self-worth or self-esteem to their approval. It is a bottomless pit and it is going to swallow you. Frame your conversation with a narcissist person on the benefits they can receive. If they are asking you to do something, and you cannot do it, your response should be: ‘You know what, I am not able to do it right now, but give me a week and then I will be able to attend to the issue then.’

The Victim: They always have the ‘poor me’ attitude. When you offer aice, be it business or personal, their response tend to be ‘Yes, but… .’ The Victims usually externalise responsibility. Their pain is usually generalised as the pain of the entire company or entire Namibia for that matter. How do we deal with them at work? Never try to carry someone else’s emotional problems. You cannot carry their emotional baggage so you have to be kind when they want a minute to offload their emotional baggage. Always set a kind and firm limit on the time you allocate them. ‘I only have five minutes to talk to you,’ be firm yet compassionate as well. If it is something that they weigh you down with all the time, try responding thus: ‘You know what, we had this conversation almost twelve times now, can we please talk about something else.’

The controller andor splitter: The Controller always has an opinion on how others should feel and do, even when it is out of their spheres. The splitter will usually feed on the anger of others and their own. A splitter would in one minute praise your work and heavily criticise it the next minute. First you never want to tell a controller what to do. That would backfire. Rather you confidently assert yourself in a polite manner: ‘Thank you for your aice, I will consider it.’ The best approach to a splitter is to remain emotionally neutral. They always create a triangle so that people can fight each other. Understanding the types of people we work with is important in the world of business, so be the change you wish to see and don’t become an emotional vampire yourself. Setting boundaries is often offensive to others, but as an entrepreneur your job is to protect your own emotional energy, not to drain it by making everyone happy.

Dr. Wilfred Isak April is a University of Namibia (Unam) graduate and holds a PhD in Entrepreneurship (New Zealand). He lectures in Leadership, Organizational Behaviour and Entrepreneurship at Unam

Source : New Era