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How to spot and better manage colleagues that drain your emotional energy at work

Every employee has their routine in the workplace but sometimes there are those who can get under your skin. Here’s some expert advice on how to deal with them. Picture: Supplied

Every employee has their routine in the workplace but sometimes there are those who can get under your skin. Here’s some expert advice on how to deal with them. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 21, 2022

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Every employee has their routine in the workplace. Whether it is clocking in and heading to their desk or grabbing a cup of coffee and passing by a work friend, the way the workday starts is different for each staff member.

According to Devan Moonsamy, CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, while some staff members just want to clear their inbox and meet their goals, there are those that can be found sauntering the office, canvassing for a listening ear to catch up and just vent about the multiple issues happening in their life.

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Despite an employee being ready to meet deadlines, they can be left unsettled the moment their colleague comes to them with their latest drama. This means they would have to drop everything they are doing and pay attention. This session can last for anything between 10 to 40 minutes.

Moonsamy said, unfortunately, after having to deal with a distraction for that long, there is a slim chance that set staff members might be ready to continue with work because they could be left feeling drained of their energy.

“Here’s the thing: a staff member that has stepped away from their desk to catch up is leaving a void in their team, and once they are at your desk, they are also the reason you are leaving a void in your team,” he said.

This sort of behaviour is exactly the reason why micromanagement is adopted in a bid to remedy the circumstances in the office. Whether the catch up is done on multiple smoke breaks or even at the water cooler, this causes a disruption to the working chain.

Moonsamy said it could also be a contributing reason for employees to feel drained emotionally. This can also be the reason your manager might be breathing down your neck to meet deadlines because they are observing the office chit chatter using your desk as their latest gossip ground.

“The work friend that keeps burdening you with their problems during working hours is not a friend. They are actually manipulative and inconsiderate to your needs. Yes, sure, they might ask if you have any work or if you are busy, and you have the choice to tell them whether you are busy or not.

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“But the fact that you are at your desk should automatically imply that you are working. The reality is that the person who goes around the office spreading their energy can also be the reason for energy around them being drained,” he said.

The staff members that do this could be seen as extroverts and are eager to volunteer with other extra activities just to get out of their own work. Even though they volunteered for the extra tasks, chances are they won’t complete it and might find someone else to sponge off in order to get the task completed. They would also be the ones complaining about everything in the office: from their manager to other co-workers, they are always looking to dish out dirt on those around them.

The extroverted colleague that always glides through the office is always looking for an introvert. They want someone to listen to them and not take away their light. They are the centre of attention, and coming to you gives the power they feel that they are better than you.

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So, you need to ask yourself, is this co-worker really my friend?

Here’s how to better manage these colleagues that drain your emotional energy

  • Stand up for yourself and be upfront. This could come across as harsh or rude, but your deadlines are more important listening to whether your co-worker should take their cheating partner back. If you spot the co-worker coming your way, politely indicate that you are busy and that you would be free during break to talk. Doing this a few times might show the co-worker that they need to adjust their patterns and might even get them to work a bit more.
  • If you are seated at your desk, this might give them the idea that they can stand and catch up. Rather take a walk and tell them you have to get back to your desk because you have deadlines. Seeing that work is your priority, they will ease down on coming to you during work hours.
  • It might be so tempting to gossip about your team and boss with this co-worker, but this is something you should avoid. If you engage in this, it will leave you out of energy further because these types of conversations with your co-worker is not going to bring about any change.

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