Workplace Vampires: Yes They Exist!

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 12, Number 2

We are heading towards Spring, the season of renewal and rebirth. This is a perfect time to reflect upon our lives and consider how we want to personally grow and what we want to accomplish during this season.

Our E-Letter this February is about the existence of Workplace Vampires. Are they real and what are vampires in the workplace? We have had a number of patients who have reported very angry and negative feelings about their bosses and co-workers. No matter how hard they work, they feel as if their vitality has been sucked dry and they are left feeling drained, exhausted, and abused.

This E-Letter also continues Dr. K’s blog about grieving and adjusting to loss and our email of the month contains interesting anecdotes about Albert Einstein.

We hope you find the enclosed information helpful and interesting. We also thank you for reading our E-Letters and for the numerous comments and messages of support we have received.

Practice News

Research study.Our practice is participating in a research study to validate a behavioral health assessment program. B-Vitals was developed to provide pediatricians with a child’s behavioral health information prior to the office visit. Completed online by parents, the doctor will receive a report identifying any behavioral health issues.

We are looking for parents of 6 to 18 year old youngsters. If you wish to participate, go to www.B-Vitals.com/Instructions and follow the instructions to register. Besides helping children and doctors, you will receive a $10 Amazon gift code for completing the surveys. It should take you no more than one-half hour and you will be quite helpful in developing this new assessment tool for pediatricians.

New Associate. We are pleased to announce that Tara Passaretti, LMHC, has joined our practice. Tara is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Nationally Board Certified Counselor who has extensive experience working with children and families in private practice and in the court system. She has also been a school counselor and has a unique understanding of problems facing children in the school setting. She is very supportive but direct and focused on improving the emotional health of her clients. You can read more about Tara’s background under the Our Staff tab on our website. While she is integrating into our practice, she will be providing low cost therapy for those patients who do not have insurance or have financial hardships.

Testings.Practice Opportunity. We are looking for one more licensed clinician to join our collegial group practice. The therapist must be experienced and motivated to provide quality behavioral health treatment for a variety of problems and patients. Specialties in child and adolescent treatment, addictions, and relationships are desirable. Being bilingual would be a plus. For further information or interest, email DrKimmel@KimmelPsychology.com or contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Support groups. Our ongoing weekly therapy groups have been quite successful. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. The group is educational, supportive, and confidential and is limited to 8 people.

Benefits of these groups include significant cost reduction, time effectiveness, and the support and understanding of other members experiencing similar issues. If you or a family member would like to participate in either of these groups, please contact Jillian in our office at 954 755-2885.

Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found on our website, www.KimmelPsychology.com. We invite you to read and download them if desired.

WORKPLACE VAMPIRES: YES THEY EXIST!

When we think of vampires, we usually think of the Gothic or Hollywood versions of the scary, bloodsucking, evening creatures that have no reflection and prey upon the living. While they have become popular and heroic to some in the last few years, they remained largely movie or book villains. But if we take this understanding and apply it to daily life especially in the workplace, we can see that there are those bosses and co-workers who are in effect workplace vampires. They drain you dry of your energy and vitality by excessive demands, derogatory statements, overcontrolling your lives, and demanding more and more. They have little self-reflection and may even be surprised that they are draining you dry. They may be nice and complementary one day, and mean and nasty the next. They seem to feed on the energy of others and verbally abuse those who work for them. They are often in management positions and can be charming to those in positions above theirs. However, they continue to need to “feed” off the energy of those in positions beneath theirs.

Those who have been victimized by these workplace vampires often know that they have to escape from this type of work environment but find it very difficult. For the most part, they are drained of energy and motivation. They get strong enough just to make it through another day and look forward to the weekends to recuperate. They are scared that they might not find another job or get a good letter of reference. They feel trapped in their jobs. It is difficult for them to speak up and set boundaries because they cannot predict the mood of their boss. They may fear being fired and the consequences that might bring. Despite family and friends telling them to quit, they find it very difficult, especially those with a good work ethic. They remain a victim who continues to have their vitality drained from them.

Dr. Albert Bernstein refers to these bosses and co-workers as really having personality disorders, from narcissistic to borderline to antisocial. He describes them as pathological since they are negative, uncaring, very controlling, and needing to have power over others. They are difficult to work with and the more you try to please them, the greater the victim you become.

Dr. Judith Orloff describes vampire co-workers who drain you dry by being critical, passive-aggressive, needy, grandiose, controlling, and narcissistic. They interfere with your work and make great demands upon your time and energy. They don’t have the same work ethic you might have. The working relationship is one-sided as you give and give and give and they take and take and take. When you talk about yourselves, they often don’t hve time or turn the conversation around to them.

When working with workplace vampires, it is critical that you set boundaries and stick to them. Otherwise, you will be sucked dry of your energy and caring for the job. Accomplishments that get recognized by others are momentary as criticism will follow shortly after. You will need to assert yourself with respect and maintain caring for yourself. Do not take what is said to you personally as it may only be meant to weaken you. If necessary, visualize yourself as having imaginary protection so that the comments don’t get through to weaken you. Stay calm and do not get caught up in the emotions. Try hard not to please as you will be unsuccessful; do not accept the role of being a rescuer. Try to think positively and do not offer yourself up to be drained. Remember that vampires have no (self)reflection and they will not change based on what you say, especially if they have personality disorders. Look out and protect yourself while you do your job the best that you can.

We offer the following information on Workplace Vampires: Yes They Exist:

WORKPLACE VAMPIRES: YES THEY EXIST!
I have never met a vampire personally
but I don’t know what might happen tomorrow — Bela Lugosi

WHAT TO KNOW!

  • Workplace vampires are bosses and co-workers who steal your energy and leave you feeling depleted; they suck your vitality and leave you feeling angry or depressed
  • Vampire bosses make work impossible due to needing to be superior and in control
  • Workplace vampires blame others and focus on what is going wrong not right; they are judgmental, have little “self-reflection”, and are insensitive
  • Workplace vampires may seem normal for regular periods of time but can attack when they feel that someone is challenging them or not listening to them
  • While they may say they care, vampire bosses only care about themselves
  • These bosses cause large employee attrition, poor employee morale, employee passive aggressive behaviors, and diminished productivity
  • Dr. Albert Bernstein described emotional vampires as people who are extremely critical, controlling, narcissistic or very negative and manipulative
  • Dr. Judith Orloff described different types of workplace vampires:
  • Criticizing vampires belittle you and makes you feel small and ashamed
  • Controlling vampires need to dominate and know what is best for everyone
  • Passive-aggressive vampires may be nice one moment and mean the next
  • Victimized vampires always thinks someone is out to get them
  • Needy vampires are constantly around you looking for attention
  • Negative vampires need to complain and are constantly depressed/overwhelmed
  • Narcissistic vampires are grandiose, self-important, and always need attention
  • Additional co-worker vampires have been described as:
  • The procrastinator who is always late and destroys your work schedules
  • The slacker who has a poor work ethic and will do personal tasks rather than work
  • The braggart who has loud conversations and talks about how great they are
  • The intruder who peers into your work and encroaches your space
  • Are you a workplace vampire? Ask yourself:
  • Do people avoid being with you?
  • Do you talk only about yourself and your life?
  • Do you like to spread gossip and tell stories about others?
  • Do you find fault with others and try to control them?
  • WHAT TO DO!

      • Don’t get defensive and take what one says personally
      • Set clear boundaries and limit or change your interactions
      • Visualize an imaginary protection so that their negativity cannot get through to you
      • Speak up for yourself in a respectful manner
      • Think positively and limit the time you spend talking about complaints
      • Stay calm, take a few deep breaths, and avoid getting caught up in their emotions
      • Be friendly with those who are positive and optimistic
      • Be supportive and show empathy but do not try to be a rescuer of energy vampires
      • Seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed by vampire bosses or co-workers and feel depressed and trapped
      • WE CAN HELP!
        Call us at 954 755-2885 or email us at DrKimmel@KimmelPsychology.com

        Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates
        5551 N University Drive, Suite 202
        Coral Springs FL 33067

        Copyright © 2017 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D.

        Dr. K’s Blog

        February 20, 2017

        I wish I could say that it has gotten easier but it hasn’t. Another month has passed and the hurt remains as strong as it has ever been. This month brought the first Valentine’s Day without my wife and my daughter’s first birthday without her. I now realize that there will be many, many “firsts” most of which will be painful.

        It is still so hard to believe that I will never look into my wife’s eyes again. Never kiss her or touch her like I always did. Never hear her advice or support again. How does one accept never, especially when you don’t want to?

        I go out a little bit more. I see friends for dinner but for the most part, the evenings remain empty. The house also feels empty. My life is different. What I thought was important before is much less so if at all. Death changes your perspective but you cannot give in or give up. I continue to work and feel the satisfaction of helping others figure out their lives.

        I am fortunate to have friends who keep in touch to see how I am. I am fortunate to have children who despite their own grief, check in with me. I am fortunate to have had 50 wonderful years with my wife. So I try to count my blessings.

        I now believe that the only thing that will help me in this grieving process is just the passing of time.

        January 20, 2017

        It is now four months since my wife has passed and I can’t say that it has gotten any easier. I have gotten busier and in that sense, I have been preoccupied and am not dwelling on the sense of loss. But those moments when I am alone and are not doing anything are the most difficult moments. Friends have called me and invited me to make sure I am busy but you always have moments of aloneness which still hurt. I rationally know that my wife is gone but I still haven’t accepted it nor do I want to. My life is different. I am different. And it will never be the same.

        I don’t know how long it will take, if ever, to heal from this grief. People constantly ask me how am I doing and I find it a very hard question to answer. I know they mean well and are interested but what do you say. I am doing fine? I am not doing well? I am really just doing okay and keeping busy. That is probably the best I can say right now.

        Everywhere are constant reminders of the life I used to have. Some are poignant and other very sad. We dedicated the new office in my wife’s memory and seeing her picture gives me the feeling that she is with me all day long. I am glad we did that.

        I also went to the cemetery with my daughter and it was emotionally, one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Yet when we left I felt some comfort.

        I think my period of grieving will be over when I can truly accept that my wife has gone and that she had a wonderful life. I hope I can do that one day.

        December 19, 2016

        Another month has gone by and it doesn’t get any easier. In fact, the holidays highlight the emptiness and the loss. These are very difficult times and the powerlessness of not being able to change what happened is overwhelming. Keeping busy helps as it distracts from the grief yet even around people I feel alone. I grapple with acceptance and I am not there yet and probably won’t be for a long, long time.

        I also realize that I have changed. No longer do I have my best friend to travel with, to talk to, to learn from, and to share my private thoughts. My wife and I grew up and grew together and we shared many, many wonderful experiences. Now those experiences are over and all I have left are the memories and the possessions. Yes, my children are wonderful and we have a very good relationship. But they too have their own grief to deal with.

        I have found that death is the hardest part of life. Rationally, I understand that we will all pass at some time. But are we ever prepared for it? I give thanks that my wife did not suffer long; that is a blessing in itself. But I miss her.

        I have learned that despite all we control in our life, we are never really in control of what matters the most. I am glad that we had such a close and warm relationship yet, precisely because of this, it hurts now that she has passed.

        November 21, 2016

        It is now 2½ months since my wife died and the transition to acceptance is extremely difficult. Cognitively, it sounds like an easy task. But emotionally, it is one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever faced in my life. I have spoken with others who have lost loved ones who seem to be the only ones who can understand what I am going through. They know the depths of emptiness and loneliness that one can only experience when one loses one’s partner. It is almost like a club of grievers who never ever really stop grieving. They just seem to put it aside to go on with their lives for the sake of themselves and others. They say that it gets better but the pain never leaves.

        How does one go from sharing everything with another to being alone? Things we were going to do, places we were going to travel to, renovations to the house, movies we were going to see, friends we were going to visit, and new experiences we were going to learn from are now all gone. They have to be done by me alone and yes I will do some of these but it is not the same. Ideas that I usually bounced off my wife or opinions where I needed her input now have to be decided only by me or by family and friends. Everything has changed internally since I am now a “me” and not a “we”.

        Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it has always been a family holiday for us. Yes I will be with my adult children but our loss will be paramount. As we always do, we will give thanks for our health and everything we have in life. We will also give thanks for having had my wife in our lives for as long as we had her. We will also give thanks that she is suffering no longer and we will remember her joy, her wit, her love for people, animals, and books, and her love for us.

        Email of the Month

        We would like to thank Sandy S. for the following email:

        Funny & Interesting Stories of Albert Einstein

        Albert Einstein’s wife often suggested that he dress more professionally, when he headed off to work.
        “Why should I?” he would invariably argue. “Everyone knows me there.”
        When the time came for Einstein to attend his first major conference, she begged him to dress up a bit.
        “Why should I?” said Einstein. “No one knows me there.”

        Albert Einstein was often asked to explain the general theory of relativity.
        “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour,” he once declared.
        “Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity!”

        When Albert Einstein was working in Princeton university, one day he was going back home he forgot his home address. The driver of the cab did not recognize him.
        Einstein asked the driver if he knows Einstein’s home.
        The driver said “Who does not know Einstein’s address? Everyone in Princeton knows.
        Do you want to meet him?”
        Einstein replied “I am Einstein. I forgot my home address, can you take me there? ”
        The driver reached him to his home and did not even collect his fare from him.

        Einstein was once travelling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger.
        When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket.
        He couldn’t find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets.
        It wasn’t there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find it.
        Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn’t find it.
        The conductor said, ‘Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.’
        Einstein nodded appreciatively.
        The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.
        The conductor rushed back and said, ‘Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry, I know who you are. No problem.You don’t need a ticket. I’m sure you bought one.’
        Einstein looked at him and said, ‘Young man, I too, know who I am.
        What I don’t know is where I’m going. That’s why I am searching for my ticket’.

        Till March…

        The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

        If you no longer wish to receive future E-Letter reminders, please send an email to DrKimmel@KimmelPsychology.com requesting to be removed from this list.

        If you find this information interesting or helpful, please forward this E-Letter to your contacts and friends. Copyright © 2017 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.