Emotional Vampire Bosses – Part II: That’s Them, What about You?

Emotional Vampires at WorkIn my last article on emotional vampire bosses, I described the most common vampire types, in the hope that you will recognize them and respond mindfully rather than emotionally. To do that successfully, you must not only know them, but know yourself as well. So, this piece is about you.

The psychological damage that vampire bosses do depends to great extent on who you are and how you think about your job. Different kinds of workers have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to dealing with vampires.

Within most organizational cultures, there are three separate and often competing sub-groups that are remarkably similar in thoughts and behavior from one organization to another. These groups differ significantly in their vulnerabilities to the various kinds of vampire bosses.

Where do you fit in? Your answer may determine how much damage a vampire boss can do to you.


Rebels pride themselves on their technical skills and ability to handle crisis, but they balk at being told what to do.

If you read the advice on how to deal with vampire bosses in my earlier article and think it means just sucking up a lot of corporate BS, you definitely fit into this group.

If you are a Rebel:

Antisocial bosses probably won’t be able to bully or bamboozle you.

No matter how skilled you are, Histrionic bosses may see you as unmotivated, and instead of listening to you, they will send you to self-improvement seminars.

Narcissistic bosses will take advantage of your skills, but never seriously consider you for promotion.

Obsessive-Compulsive bosses will continue to ride you for not getting your paperwork done.

To protect yourself from Vampire Bosses, you will need to learn how to do all the incipient crap that shouldn’t be part of your job, like sucking up, paperwork and negotiating.


Believers work hard and play by the rules, hoping that their diligence and responsibility will be rewarded. Needless to say, they are often disappointed.

If you are a Believer:

Antisocial bosses will lie to you. Histrionic bosses will award you employee of the month. Narcissists will promise to put in a good word for you. Obsessive-Compulsive bosses will rely on you enough to bestow their highest accolade – more work.

None of them will give you a raise.

Compensation aside, your biggest danger lies in believing that everyone is playing by the same rules you are. Countless Believers have ruined their careers by complaining to HR about a Vampire Boss.

To protect yourself you need to recognize that hard work by itself seldom gets you ahead. Pay attention to what successful people are doing, and work hard at that. Even then, if you want to be noticed and rewarded, you will have to promote yourself and negotiate.


Competitors are expert at observational learning. They recognize and live by the unwritten rules. Competitors know how to use politics to get things done. All too often, politics uses them.

If you are a Competitor:

Antisocial bosses may convince you that everybody breaks the rules.

You will probably be able to fool Histrionic bosses into thinking you’re the greatest thing since indoor plumbing.

The better you are, the more likely that Narcissistic bosses will see you as competition. Watch your back.

You may get impatient with Obsessive-Compulsive bosses’ bureaucratic pettiness, and be tempted to cut corners and not do your homework. It may take awhile, but they will eventually catch on.

Your biggest danger lies in being so good at doing what your vampire bosses do that you become a vampire yourself. If you are a competitor, you will need to take frequent readings on your moral compass lest you lose your way.

Photo Credits

Photo is from the cover of Emotional Vampires at Work by Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D. – All Rights Reserved


Guest Author Bio

Albert J. Bernstein PhD
Dr. Albert Bernstein Albert J. Bernstein PhD lives in Portland, Oregon with his happy family. He has been practicing as a Clinical Psychologist, Speaker and Business Consultant for more than 40 years.

He prides himself on teaching people how to think like psychologists without having to talk like them. His books on dealing with difficult and dangerous people have been translated into more than twenty languages. The best known are Dinosaur Brains, and Emotional Vampires. His newest book Emotional Vampires at Work, published by McGraw-Hill in the spring of 2013 can teach you all you need to know to keep from being drained dry…

Get 'Emotional Vampires at Work' On Amazon

Blog / Website: http://www.albernstein.com

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