How to become a corporate vampire slayer

Do you spend your workdays surrounded by energy vampires who suck the life right out of the room? I’m a firm believer that “Like attracts like”, which means there’s something you can do about it!

Once upon a time, I was a member of a small team. We were kind, hard-working, talented people, but there was a pervading sense of negativity. Every week we’d meet with the directors of the business, and afterwards the moaning would begin: “Did you hear them say that?”; “They never take our suggestions on board”... All it took was for one person to say something unconstructive and it’d spiral out of control. The energy in our team was pretty low.


One day, the directors sent us on a self-development workshop, designed to support us in our personal and professional lives. The following week, we had our usual meeting – only this time, it was different. This time, I noticed one of my colleagues held back. She didn’t discuss the negative things – instead, she spoke about what she planned to achieve in the coming week.

I left the meeting feeling guilty and with a realisation: negativity wasn’t working for me. Although sharing our gripes helped my workmates and I bond in a sense, it wasn’t serving any of us; we were losing our inspiration and motivation to do a good job.

These days, I often encounter this scenario when I’m conducting workshops. And often, all it takes is one person to short-circuit the negativity.

In Native American culture, there’s a legend called The Tale of Two Wolves. An elder walks along a pathway with his grandson and says, “A fight is going on inside me. It’s a terrible fight, and it’s between two wolves. One is evil – he’s anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is good – he’s joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside you too – and inside every person.” The grandson thinks about it for a minute, then asks, “Which wolf will win?” And the grandfather replies simply, “The one you feed.”

The lesson here is: if we choose to focus on negative thoughts, our behaviour and feelings can become negative. One of the most powerful traits of individuals with strong self-leadership skills is their self-awareness and ability to manage their energy and fulfil their potential by taking responsibility for the things they can control. I encourage you to stop and check in with what’s running through your head. Is it positive or negative? Identify the vampires who deplete your energy – can you engage with them differently?

Although we can’t ignore certain realities at work, we can choose how we respond to them. Choose to rise and shine every day with the intention to be a positive force in your workplace. I guarantee that your colleagues will pick up on it and your motivation, productivity, wellbeing and life in general will change for the better.

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