Tales From the Crypt: Vampires of the Office

Lurking in the shadows of video conferences and masked corners of the office are vampires. This is not a Halloween fluff piece but a warning. You have to show value in the workplace. Maybe you are the top sales person, the analytics master that makes sense of data, the technical guru or the creative genius. Then, there are others who are void of talent applicable to their employment situation. The only way they can thrive in their jobs is by sucking information, good ideas, creativity from others.

That’s right, there are office vampires in chic clothing and virtual backgrounds. They send you messages, ask you to talk and you are sucked into supplying them with information, ideas, names and dates. You are just helping out a colleague. A colleague that values your talent and expertise.

Stop it.  Stop it now. They are sucking you dry. You have become their vital source. Think about it; start to sort out those who come to you for collaboration versus those who come to you to…well do their jobs. Most likely, there is someone. It may be the person that always seems to miss the email, needs something at the last minute or, hey, just thought maybe you could help.

1.     Identify the Office Vampires – This may be a little difficult. Who comes to you for information? What are they asking for? Do they seek your help in the presence of others, or just between the two of you? Do they ask for things that seem irrelevant to their position? Do they want to be copied and see everything you get?

2.     Know Your Value – What are the things you are good at? What do people come to you for? What value do you provide? Once you know this, use caution. This is what keeps you sustainable in the workforce, this is your brand. Be aware these vampire creatures may come to you in the spirit of team work when they are just going to suck you dry.

3. Practice Your Exits – You know who the vampires are and you realize all the valuable information you have given them. Once you have been identified as a source, the vampires will keep coming. You need to prepare what you will say and do. For example

Vampire: You attended that meeting for the 4Q strategy with marketing; can you send me the presentation?

You: I don’t want to be the source of anything being out of context or I’m not comfortable with that. Give a firm, closed ended no. Or, passively aggressively send nothing.

4. Don’t Give Away Your Ideas – When a vampire asks you what you think, try something like, I am still formulating my thoughts. Pay attention to the conversation; is it a sharing of ideas, or do you here the faint sound of a vacuum in the background sucking out all your ideas?

Vampire Huntress

Make no mistake, while it may seem someone has taken your idea, your thoughts, your plan, in all likelihood, you gave it away. Plan some responses in advance. Those witty comebacks typically only happen in TV and movies and are scripted.

Honestly, it may take time to extricate yourself from the office vampire. Use watermarks, send documents as pdfs send text files as jpgs, all with the rational, you’re maintaining work product integrity.  This won’t’ stop plagiarism, but it will make it more difficult to copy. 

You stop using products, no matter how much you paid for them. If a shampoo makes your hair fall out? You stop. This week, consider, are surrounded by vampires?

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