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How to Deal With Energy Suckers (Negative People)
by Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro

We all know some; maybe at work or even at home. The Energy Suckers. They will suck you dry if you fall into their trap.

Energy Suckers are negative people. It's easy to know when you are with them because the longer the exposure, the more drained you feel. You try to avoid them, but Energy Suckers thrive on spreading bad tidings so they seek you out. They show up in your office, at meetings, and family gatherings.

If they call you on the phone, your stomach starts to hurt as soon as you realize who is calling. While you pretend to listen, you are really thinking of a way to get off the phone. In fact you try to return their calls when you know they won't be at home or at the office. You just want credit for the call; you don't really want to talk with them.

While you don't want to join them in the mud, they seem to know when you are vulnerable and try to pull you in. You may even find, to your dismay that you agree with some of what they are saying.

So how do you protect yourself? Here are some of the common types of Energy Suckers and how to deal with them:

• The Seagull--These are often managers or supervisors. They fly by when everyone is busy with a project, deposit garbage all over and soar away after destroying enthusiasm. They tend to pick at details like they are combing the beach, making negative comments as they work. They leave staff and co-workers feeling defeated and unappreciated. Solution: Obtain careful clarification before starting a project. If there has been confusion in the past with this Sucker, you may want to get things in writing.

• The Yeh-Butts--While they pretend to be friendly, their real focus is on the negative. They often use the phrase, "Yeh, but..." They then describe why the procedure, idea, or approach couldn't possibly work. Experienced "Yeh-Butts" extend their method to other areas of life as well. If you mention the great weather, they say, "Yeh, but it's supposed to rain by the weekend." If you tell them they look nice, they say, "Yeh, but this dress really isn't in style anymore." They are not happy and they want you to know it. Solution: Ignore Yeh-Butts and their awful phrase. You may want to charge a quarter when ever someone in the office or at home uses the "Yeh, But" phrase.

• The Muck Mixers--These are the folks who love to stir the pot. They look for gossip or "information" that they feel they must know and then take it upon themselves to disseminate the dirt. They adore turmoil and conflict and will feed both if given the chance. Muck Mixers often "keep score" and tend to remember obscure information that can hurt others or their reputations. They are sometimes hard to ignore because their information is SOOO interesting. Solution: Avoid them like the plague or you will also become fodder for discussion. Their lack of productivity will eventually catch up with them. Make sure you are not standing next to them when they go down.

• Melvin Milktoast or Dorothy Doormat--These are the male and female equivalents of the Martyr. They are absolutely convinced that no one has seen the trouble they have. No one works as hard as they do. And they are the only ones who do not get a break. They seem to find trouble and then want everyone to know how they fix things at great personal expense. They may try to make those around them feel guilty with their superhuman efforts. Solution: Let them work. You have worked too hard to have a balanced life to fall for this game.

Stay away from the Energy Suckers in your life. Spend your time with people who lift you up...not pull you down. You will find your own energy to be contagious.

FREE E-mail newsletter, sign on at Barbara Bartlein, is The People Pro, and President of Great Lakes Consulting Group, LLC, which helps companies sell more goods and services by developing people. She can be reached at 888-747-9953, by e-mail at: or visit her website at Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro may be contacted at or


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