– Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant
When you think of a person who is effective and successful at work, likely one of the prominent characteristics that individual possesses is confidence.
Confidence suggests a sense of self empowerment and self-love that is steady despite life’s ups and downs. Of course, this inner core of self-efficacy in the workplace does not start and end there. Rather, confidence is something a person carries within and is a key ingredient not only in work but in life.
When people are confident in themselves, they contribute to making the workplace a positive environment. People who are confident bring infectious energy to the workplace, as opposed to workplace vampires – those who suck the energy out of the workplace by negativity and drama and can make the workplace tedious. Workplace vampires tend to blame others for making them feel the way they do instead of taking responsibility. They have little self-reflection towards their poor attitude, and focus on what is wrong rather than what is going well ( as they tend to find fault in everything). Workplace Vampires tend to be judgmental while lacking insight into themselves. Despite the insensitivity such people display to to others, they are exquisitely sensitive to injustices done to them.
But the paradox does not end there. Rather, the confident and righteous persona is underscored with emotional fragility and confusion. To add insult to injury, the individual is so well defended that they have no clue they are that way. And if they do have a shred of insight into their problems, they are masterful at shifting responsibility and blame their problems on others anyway!
It is important to note that workplace vampires are not bad people – they are unhealthy and no one really means to be unhealthy. Such individuals lack insight into themselves and spend more time judging others rather than understanding themselves. Ironically, despite their insensitivity, they are often indignant that they do not feel supported at work and their lack of emotional sensitivity and insight puts them on the defensive.
Obviously, the humanly tragic plight of a workplace vampire does not start and stop in the workplace. Rather, such behavior is an extension of a greater emotional crippling in the fabric of their personalities, and their real victims are themselves.
So even though the general reaction to the workplace vampire is one of avoidance and anger, remember that no one means to be a workplace vampire. No matter how old they are chronologically, emotionally they are young and stuck in a more emotionally primitive state. Their own immaturity prevents them from being more positive and “spreading the love.” Keep in mind that workplace vampires are really human – and unhappy humans at that. People who are filled with judgmental and negative thoughts are not happy campers. They are caught in a spiral where problems beget more problems!
Confident people, on the other hand, are more solution-focused instead of being problem-focused. They remain positive even in face of adversity, and take responsibility of what they can change rather than focus on what they can’t change. Rather than tending to blame others when things go wrong, they size up a situation and focus on what they can do to make things better. In essence, confident people are more resilient and bounce back better from setbacks at work and in life. All too often people think that being positive means you follow the mantra “Don’t Worry – Be Happy!” That is far from the truth. You can still be positive even if you are expressing dissatisfaction, with the goal to find a solution in hopes that things can get better. Expressing concerns (and even feelings of upset and anger) with the hope that things can improve is positive – not negative.
Thus, keep in mind that expressing negative feelings is not vampire-like if the goal is to be an agent of change to make things better. But keep in mind that you must direct change not through complaining. With this type of attitude, you will not only be an agent of change and a role model for resilience to others, you will also increase your own confidence and sense of empowerment no matter what comes your way.
Improving your own confidence and self awareness will make you more resilient to the workplace vampire and will ensure that you will not get bitten with those fangs and become one yourself!
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