Five ways to spot an energy vampire

We've all got one: that person you dread spending time with, who seems to suck the life out of you. Some people call them energy vampires.

Your energy vampire could be a client, a friend, co-worker, an acquaintance, or a family member. You'll know an energy vampire, because you feel drained after being with them.

Energy vampires have several things in common. They're constantly complaining, everything's a drama, and they talk incessantly about themselves.

Dr Judith Orloff, author of Positive Energy, identifies five types of energy vampires:

  1. The Sob Sister – The most common type of energy stealer. Every time you talk to this person, they’re whining. Sob sisters love a captive audience, and are more interested in complaining than solutions.
  2. The Drama Queen – Male or female, the Drama Queen has a knack for exaggerating small incidents into off-the-chart dramas.
  3. The Constant Talker – They’ve mastered the art of circular breathing, and could talk under wet cement. The Constant Talker has no interested in other people’s feelings or opinions, so good luck getting a word in.
  4. The Blamer – This is the kind of person who has a sneaky way of making you feel guilty for not getting things absolutely perfect.
  5. Go For The Jugular Fiend – They’re spiteful and vindictive, and cut you down with no consideration for your feelings. Somehow they make this seem like a virtue, because they’re “just being honest”.

Do you recognise someone you know in this list?

Especially at this time of the year, when we're counting down to Christmas, and when our own tolerance and patience is starting to wear thin, energy vampires are even more taxing than usual.

In a proposals environment, energy is hard to come by, and we can’t afford to waste it.

It's not like a presentation, where you’re on your feet and you can rely on adrenaline, nervous energy and the buzz of the room to keep you going.

December is a busy time for pitches and proposals, so be kind to yourself, and to each other.

It’s tough enough to create the energy and excitement that will help you win, without stealing it from others.

Confidence is catching

Have you ever lost a piece of business you really deserved to win? Seen a contract go to a less qualified competitor? Felt less than confident when making a verbal pitch, only to find out later that the client had reservations about your ability to do the job? You may have been a victim of a lack of confidence, not lack of ability.

What we believe is true really matters. If we believe in what we’re doing, others will believe it too.

Recently, Psychology Today related a study where research psychologists asked groups of men and women to perform a series of mental rotation tests and then quizzed them on their level of confidence taking the tests. In these tests, participants were presented with one standard figure and four alternative figures. Two of the alternative figures are rotated versions of the standard figure, whereas the other two are mirror images of the standard figure – and test subjects were asked to determine which is which. Here’s an example of the sort of thing they were faced with:

At first, the researchers found a big difference between the results of men and women on these tests (men consistently scored better). However, when the participant’s level of confidence was taken into account, the gender differences evaporated. The researchers decided to test the robustness of the “confidence” finding by asking participants to complete the tests under two different scenarios – the control group (A) was allowed to skip a test if they felt they lacked confidence in their answers, and the test group (B) was not allowed to skip any tests.

While they did find gender differences in the control group A, there were no such differences in the test group B. These findings support the idea that the differences in results were due to confidence, and not ability.

When I review proposals and tender responses for organisations that aren’t winning as much business as they deserve to, it’s obvious where they lack confidence in their pitch and their offer. The writer’s doubt and fear have soaked into every page, and they leave a stain that’s hard to ignore.

Re-read your proposals from the customer’s perspective. Do they answer questions, or create them? Do they inspire confidence or in fact, do the opposite?

The first sale is always to yourself. When you are sold, the customer will be too.