Blog Directory & Business Pages at

Deprecated: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in /home/customer/www/ on line 2236

Dr Sophie's Blog

Dr Sophie Henshaw is a work stress strategist, author and doctor of psychology with a particular interest in dysfunctional workplace relationships. For the latest articles, please refer to her latest blog site:

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Team Blogs
    Team Blogs Find your favorite team blogs here.
  • Login
    Login Login form

How To Cope With Difficult, Demanding and Draining Energy Vampires

Posted by on in Essential Anti-Bullying Tips
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 20349
  • Subscribe to this entry
  • Print

Woman Tug of War

Holidays from work can elicit relief and dread in equal measure when you know you’ll be going back to a co-worker with a personality disorder who seems to suck the air right out of the room and drains you dry – in other words an “energy vampire.”

Working with difficult people for too long can lead to burnout, which is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged exposure to stress.  It saps your energy to the extent that you can lose your interest and motivation on the job and end up feeling increasingly cynical and resentful.  It can even lead to someone developing serious mental health and medical conditions such as depression, anxiety, problem drinking, digestive issues, chronic fatigue syndrome, immune system disorders, obesity and heart disease.

Energy vampires are emotionally immature individuals who are self-absorbed, often incapable of empathy, with a poor control of their emotions and who will cause power factions in teams and manipulate others to get what they want.

They may invade your personal space, fail to extend the normal professional courtesies that are expected in the workplace and don’t seem to understand the word “no”.  You could feel angry, anxious, overwhelmed, bored or irritated around them and begin to doubt yourself as your reality becomes distorted.”

If you are dreading going back to work because of the presence of energy vampires, you can follow these five steps to protecting yourself from them, which if implemented, could save your career, mental health and perhaps even life:

  1. Acknowledge The Early Warning Signs:  If you get a gut feeling that something’s not quite right – LISTEN to it!  Read the signs even in the smallest of behaviours.  Stop doubting yourself and observe reality as it is not as you think it should be.  Remember, an energy vampire’s world revolves around them and you exist only if you are useful, so never take what they do personally.
  2. Set Boundaries And Don’t Be Too Empathic – Energy vampires have poor boundaries and you have to make sure your “no” is loud and clear or else they won’t get it.  You may have to manage them rather than relate to them, and if you are too empathic, you risk being used.
  3. Don’t Share Personal Information With Them:  Be tight-lipped as anything you share of a personal nature could come back to haunt you as they won’t hesitate to exploit it to gain advantage.
  4. Limit Your Exposure:  Don’t risk being drained, so know your limits and give yourself lots of space.  Small strategies like sneezing at certain moments to interrupt draining discussions, taking a step back out of their space or going to the toilet can give you a breathing space.
  5. If You Can’t Take It Don’t – Get Out:  Your workplace energy vampire isn’t likely to change and suddenly take self-responsibility – instead she will blame others and demand that everything around her should change.  You would be wise to cut your losses and consider finding another job or working in another department.  You need to have a really good reason to stay, not just because you need the money!




Subscribe to my email list

* indicates required
Trackback URL for this blog entry.

Dr Sophie has experienced bullying both personally and professionally.  As a new psychologist starting out in a government organisation that had “a zero tolerance to bullying”, she was the target of a serial bully who was never held to account.  Professionally, Dr Sophie has treated many clients suffering severe and chronic symptoms of depression and traumatic stress as a result of being bullied. She has also conducted numerous interventions in workplaces with organisational cultures vulnerable to bullying.

Dr Sophie graduated from Murdoch University in Perth, WA in 2000.  She initially worked in a variety of settings including maximum-security prisons, private hospitals and with GPs before going onto full-time private practice in 2005. 


  • Guest
    Jayjay Wednesday, 23 April 2014

    Hi Sophie,

    Great article. I would also note that around 60-70% of targeted employees are fired, it happened to me. It's often a case of get out or be pushed, so the need to escape a toxic environment is really critical. Do it when it is YOUR choice not theirs. I had seriously considered resigning within weeks of entering an obviously toxic environment but I stayed. Couldn't have made a worse mistake and I was fired on the spot for some trivial reason 3 months later, after much abuse and made to feel I must have done something to bring this abuse on myself! Imagine how much THAT can affect your dignity and self esteem. There was absolutely nothing I could do about it because it happened during my trial period and I was powerless. However, if I had quit when I started recognising the abuse, I would have sent a message to the management AND left with my dignity in tact, before my character and every little thing I did was distorted and destroyed, leaving my self esteem in tatters and my ability to get another job seriously damaged. This was nothing to do with performance, you just know you're being bullied. Consequently, it took months of therapy and a huge toll on my finances and career record. Just get out before these thugs can hurt you even more, because they can and they will and they will make you (and probably the rest of the team) believe it's your fault and its fair.

  • Guest
    Dr Sophie Henshaw Wednesday, 23 April 2014

    Hi Jay
    You are exactly the kind of person I do this work for and who I want to reach out to. I have seen this happen to so many of my clients and all the articles you will read on this blog are oblique references to their experiences (as well as my own). You also read a lot about that stuff in the literature but when it's personal, it hits closer to home and you get to feel the very real impact. It is for you that I am creating a strategy to be one step ahead of the bullies and their crony companies - by combining a unique resource blend of clinical psychology, legal assistance and journalism. Please keep reading and I hope that the new content keeps you inspired! In the meantime, please keep yourself safe from harm.

  • Guest
    Jayjay Wednesday, 23 April 2014

    Thanks so much Sophie, I appreciate your words and the wonderful work you are doing. It's amazing to see how similar all of our experiences are, your articles are so close to home and very validating.

    I look forward to keeping up with all of your content in future.

  • Guest
    KB Monday, 21 July 2014

    Having been in a workplace like this and suffering a heart attack most likely due to the direct stress I was under and then being kicked out after. This just makes it even more important to get this message out so others don't have to suffer.

  • Guest
    Dr Sophie Henshaw Tuesday, 22 July 2014

    Hi KB - thanks for your comment. I hope you are recovering well and that you're having a better experience now. I am endeavouring to do all I can to get the information out there, but it takes time! Please do share any of the information here that you think others might find useful on social media.

Leave your comment

Guest Tuesday, 09 March 2021
Powered by EasyBlog for Joomla!