Is your boss an energy vampire?

Is your boss an energy vampire?

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Energy Vampires by Jennifer O'Neill
Energy Vampires by Jennifer O'Neill

BETHESDA, Md., January 16, 2014 —In a recent survey conducted by The Pew Research Center, bosses are more likely to be satisfied in their jobs than non-bosses; and fewer bosses are actively looking for a new job, 12 percent, as opposed to non-bosses looking for a new position, 23 percent.

There are many factors to consider as to why more non-bosses and fewer bosses would be actively looking for a new place to work, the least of which is that bosses earn more and are generally more content with their family life and the lifestyle their salaries afford.

However, the survey fails to report on the specifics as to why either group would actively look for new work while in a financially secure position. After all, anyone who has been recently unemployed can attest that finding a job in today’s market requires full-time attention and pursuit.

Finding a job is a job, essentially.

Could one reason behind why currently employed workers, non-bosses and bosses, begin searching for a new job have something to do with being tired of being tired of their bosses?

If that boss is an energy vampire, the answer could most assuredly be yes.

Jennifer O’Neil defines energy vampires in “Energy Vampires: How To Deal With Negative People” as “people who constantly draw upon other people’s energy in order to recharge their own system.”

Your boss might be an energy vampire if she daily and repeatedly:

1. Reprimands you for openly voicing your opinions and creative ideas.

When you initially became employed, your boss was overly flattering of your skills and abilities and repeatedly interjected you into projects and piled on the work. Feeling so needed and desired gave you the natural impression that your boss trusted and respected your skills and abilities, and in turn, trusted and respected you.

Feeling confident in being trusted and respected, you began opening up in meetings and voicing your opinions, even if those opinions countered your bosses. Much to your surprise, your boss reprimanded you for those opinions, but never in the presence of other co-workers but rather in the privacy of your boss’s office.

Feeling like you had defied your boss’s trust, you accept the reproach without question and vow to always defer to your boss prior to speaking up in the future.

You feel deflated and rather confused while your boss feels recharged. You hold out hope that things will change. She’s your boss, and you respect her.

2. Takes credit for your ideas and suggestions.

Energy vampire bosses are often less educated and/or less creative than you, and they know it. Bosses like this need to look good in the eyes of their boss. So in order to give you the impression that she respects and values you as a person, your energy vampire boss will praise your ideas in private to keep you gullible and comfortable enough to continue sharing your ideas with her.

As a result of always sharing your creative ideas and opinions with your boss (prior to mentioning them in meetings, of course), you discover that your boss repeatedly commandeers your ideas as her own…publicly.

The first time your boss blatantly and word-for-word shares one of your ideas in an open meeting with colleagues and her boss, you are shell-shocked. At the end of your boss’s summary of your idea, she neglects to defer the credit to you. You glance over at her in hopes of receiving the non-verbal cue that would indicate she is pleased with you for providing the team with such a great idea, but there is zero eye contact. Your boss simply sits back basking in the compliments and praises your colleagues throw her way for her, a.k.a. your, brilliant idea.

The meeting ends and you never receive credit for your idea that ultimately saved the company valuable time and resources.

You feel deflated and rather confused while your boss feels recharged. You hold out hope that things will change. She’s your boss, and you respect her.

3. Micro-manages your time.

This is directly related to your boss’s desire to take your ideas as her own. Your boss needs to know what you are working on and when you are working on it in order to swipe your ideas.

Your boss schedules weekly “touch base” meetings in which she takes careful and detailed notes. The meeting is less about what she wants you to do and more about you explaining to her what needs to be done.

Remember, she may not respect you and your skills, but she covets them. You may be surprised by what your boss chooses or doesn’t choose to jot down as you speak and detail your projected weekly task list. Any given week you detour from this setlist results in further reprimands as detailed in #1.

You feel deflated and rather confused while your boss feels recharged. You hold out hope that things will change. She’s your boss, and you respect her.

4. Disrespects your time and resources.

Your energy vampire boss arrives late to each and every meeting. The only meetings she seems to adhere to are the ones scheduled with her boss. As a result of coming late to meetings, meetings are often cut short requiring an additional meeting to make up for the time waiting for her to arrive. If rescheduling a meeting is not possible, your energy vampire boss will simply e-mail or text you at her leisure, even outside of regular business hours.

Over time, receiving an e-mail in your inbox at 11:00 p.m. becomes the norm; not receiving these late-night messages actually causes you anxiety, not the other way around. You end up constantly on high-alert, waiting and anticipating to be contacted about another fire that you need to extinguish.

You feel deflated and rather confused while your boss feels recharged. You hold out hope that things will change. She’s your boss, and you respect her.

5. Disrespects your boundaries.

After working for the energy vampire boss for several months or years, you decide that it’s time to set boundaries in order to save yourself stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, for you, you fail to realize that she already smashed through your boundaries once.

The key to an energy vampire’s success is her natural inclination to undermine the boundaries of all of those she comes into contact. Your energy vampire boss is like a bull in a china shop. There may be a boundary placed before her, but she does not acknowledge it or respect it. And there are dangerous consequences to using your boundaries with your energy vampire boss.

The energy vampire boss will be disappointed when you say no but for a very different reason than you may suspect. More than likely, whatever task or project you declined to add to your plate, your boss had already promised her boss that she would have it completed. Therefore, when you say no, you make your energy vampire boss look bad in the eyes of her boss, and she can not have that.

So what does the energy vampire boss do? She goes to her boss and accuses you of being uncooperative and not a team player.

Your boss convincingly details to her boss that you are sabotaging the department on purpose. That you want to see the organization fail and that you are out only for yourself. This is called projection, and her boss is oblivious. Her boss believes her.

So even if you decide to go to her boss to defend yourself, her boss’s opinion has already been cemented thanks to the scheming, lying and manipulative vampire boss you so graciously chose to respect for far too long.

You feel deflated and rather confused; you no longer hold out hope. You lost all respect for your boss. You now look upon your energy vampire boss as a liar and a con artist.

After cautiously sharing notes with others in your office, you discover that you are not alone in your opinion. It seems no one likes your energy vampire boss. They just tolerate her.

You decide it’s time to look for a new job and setout to update your LinkedIn account.

Next story: How to detach from an energy vampire boss when quitting is not an option.

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