Help, my Boss is an Energy Vampire!

To continue our cautionary tales from earlier this month, which kicked off with 5-Interviews that would Scare your Mummy, today we dive deep into the employee lifecycle to introduce 6 “Boss” Energy Vampires! What is an Energy Vampire?  Instead of blood, an energy vampire drains you so that you are unable to function properly after interacting with them. When it's over you feel physically or mentally tired, anxious, angry, irritable…  Prepare to be frightened by how these vampires have shown up in our client’s workplaces.

My Boss the Martyr.

I worked in the corporate office of a famous retail cosmetics reseller. My boss was nice, a generally funny guy. He was also a workaholic and tended to complain because other departments were inept. “We always have to clean up the mess” was his catchphrase, followed by a request for me or my team-mates to work more hours, holidays, or weekends. Don’t get me wrong, I’m OK with working hard, and sometimes long, hours with good reason, just not all the time. My last year with the company he asked the team to work on a marketing campaign on Christmas day with him – some of us did. I did not. I was appalled, I mean, it’s not like we were curing a disease or feeding people – our business is vanity and our deadline was weeks away!”

  • The Martyr (or Victim) Vampire sucks away at your empathy and sympathy with guilt to feed their own low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness.
  • How to Protect Yourself: Do not be pulled into their expressions of self-pity and blame. Create clear boundaries.

Boss so vain, I bet you think this post is about you.

My manager would often praise my work to colleagues, other leaders, you name it. It was great and became especially important to me. I worked in that role for over 2-years towing the company line and fulfilling every request from my leader exceptionally. Then I told him I was planning to apply for a different position with the company, still in our department but on another team. He was not supportive and managed to push every button of mine. He also barely spoke to me after I stopped reporting to him. What was once a good relationship became awkward. I heard from several sources that he was making nasty remarks behind my back and overly critical of anything I worked on.

  • Narcissist Vampire does not show genuine empathy or interest towards others, although they may successfully play the part when it suits them. They will share energy when you are feeding their ego. They will they will suck and sap energy if you do not put them first.
  • How to Protect Yourself: No leader is bullet-proof so do not put them on a pedestal and do not rely on their validation to measure your own self-worth.

My Boss Drank Coffee and made plans for World Domination…

In my first job out of college, at a call center, I was terrified of my manager. My job was to help customers quickly and achieve high customer service scores. There were twelve of us. When someone did not perform exactly as prescribed, while catering to her requests for Starbucks and constant order-barking, she had no problem dismissing them. Our turnover was insane. It was especially hard for men. After a year I started interviewing and left soon after.

  • The Dominator Vampire sucks away at your self-confidence through intimidation because they are pathologically afraid of being dominated.
  • How to Protect Yourself: Be assertive without aggression and limit your exposure as much as possible.

Drama Boss much?

I had a supervisor that made everything a dramatic fire drill. I swear if we did not have an insane deadline or problem she would find one. If things were too smooth, her personal stories got more exaggerated. She got stuck on the commuter train for a few hours one night and it was “110 degrees in the packed car of back to back people standing in the aisles.”

  • The Drama Boss Vampire thrives on problems because they feed off negative energy, often seeking out crisis to feel victimized (and deserving of your attention.)
  • How to Protect Yourself:Do not get involved, let them stir the cauldron alone and learn your own triggersso you do not get pulled in.

My Boss was a Judgmental Sucker.

I had a senior leader who sat in derisive judgment of his entire department. Everyone knew it. Disenchanted direct reports would confirm employees feelings by sharing his cruel remarks behind closed doors. He would rarely talk to or even meet the eyes of anyone not on his leadership team or below the rank of Manager (and only then if you were worthy.) From body language to eye-rolls, to just ignoring certain people, he made it clear if you were not one of the chosen few.

  • The Judgmental Vampire loves to pick on other people, often citing it as teasing. Then they further berate or smack-talk the victim if they speak up or respond in any way. THINK BULLY. These individuals suck your energy by preying on your insecurities to bolster their own egos.
  • How to Protect Yourself: Trust yourself. Know your worth and do not take these people personally. Be nice to them and either the situation will improve, or you will rattle their canines – win-win!

Energy vampires suck. You cannot fight them with sunlight or a stake. But you can defang them by protecting yourself. By knowing your worth and setting boundaries. So follow our tips above, hoard your energy, and create as much emotional (and physical) distance as possible. Try eating raw garlic for lunch, that keeps everyone away!

Thanks once again for joining us and remember, if you have a short story or anecdote you want to share about your employee experience you would like to share, please send them to us at

Lisa Crockett is a leader and professional development coach with more than 20 years of experience in Human Resources, Learning, and Performance. To learn more about her professional career visit her on LinkedIn.

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