Working within feet of an emotional vampire.

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Magnet

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Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« on: July 17, 2016, 06:55:50 PM »
This past year my partner helped me identify my brother as a NPD. I rarely see him, but I've learned through sites like this one a lot about why I don't particularly care to be in contact with him.
In the past few weeks, I've discovered a person I work only feet from once a week is an emotional vampire. Yes, we seemed to get along for the past two years with this close working arrangement but there never has been more than a Facebook connection outside of the work environment. Now I'm sensing some danger.
About 6 weeks ago she had arrived later than I did and she started puttering around while speaking in a low voice about oh so many woes, some in the past, most about pending disasters if she did this or that that day, then the rent was due, then this then that... you get the picture. I was really in an upbeat mood and I countered with positives to her negatives for over an hour. Suddenly I repeated something she said to me, but she claimed I was being really sexual that day for saying that. (She has already accused another here of sexual harrassment, btw.) I asked her to repeat what she said and after that told her it will never happen again. Then I immediately ignored her for the next few hours. We had few more brief conversations later that day, but I was careful.
It was at this point that my red flags went up. I soon learned that I'm dealing with someone on the NPD spectrum and in this case an emotional vampire and I learned that I'm in a little bit of a dangerous no-win situation with her. So now another incident has happened last week where I did something she thinks was "wrong" but it's not wrong, just an option I chose that she didn't like. I set up a barrier that interferes with her ability to interject comments to me whenever she wants all day long. The barrier gives me a small privacy shield to do my work without her attention seeking comments. It's something many people here do regularly (good fences make good neighbors kind of thing.) More put up entire walls though. I did not completely cut her off, but of course she acted like I had. She spent the day a few feet away by saying six or seven things to me very loudly so nearby others could hear, things that were odd, not really true, but true enough sounding to be credible to those who didn't know better. I ignored her.
Then her birthday was during this week, during a week when she was leaving town. I really don't know if I should cut her off cold turkey or "keep my friends close and my enemy closer) so I sent her a Facebook Happy Birthday. She thanked me that and said, "I'll miss you so much this week." I responded with an attempt to create a better boundary. I said, "Work friends will always see each other at work. See you next week at work!" I know that was a risk, but it's all a risk at this point with her.

So here's the question. I have the opportunity to create a blockade or wall between us at work so she would need to pass around the wall to talk to me. I already know she will see it as further evidence of a threat. I already know from last week that this will not be pleasant, but I wonder if I can do something to ratchet down the coming tirades with a pre-emptive post on Facebook linking the blog on NPD from Out of the FOG, and a key quote from the blog in my comment above it. Will that pre-emptive action help me in any way? Or am I doomed to get a social backlashing from the emotional vampire?

Also, I cannot end the proximity I have to her at work, that's not going to happen in the next few years. Even though this is a once a week opportunity, I still need to get along with the people I'm around. I just don't have a clue as to how I should proceed. Any help is appreciated.

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Bloomie

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2016, 10:31:19 PM »
Hi Magnet. Welcome to OOTF. Oh it sounds like quite a tricky situation at work with this coworker. Bravo for having already taken some really important steps to gain some privacy by screening her. Also, your Medium chill response to her bday comment on FB was clever and wise.

The advantage you have is this is a work environment and it is expected that the priority is... work. So, anything you do to gain some privacy could be attributed to needing to increase your productivity by screening out distractions of every kind. This is not a family member you will sit across the Thanksgiving table from, but it is someone you will see every day, so a tough situation. It seems it is important to  have clear and straightforward, consistent boundaries with this person, and if that does not work, is it possible to ask to be moved to another location?

All that is required at work is civil and respectful exchange.  We are not required to engage in someone's nonsense, personal dramas, and over sharing of the details of their lives. And we have a built in excuse to limit the conversation - work.

In the toolbox and traits sections of the resource tabs above you will find some great strategies and ways to cope with specific behaviors. Asking this wise community for suggestions such as you have done here is a great way to gain insights and learn how to set healthy boundaries with persistently intrusive people with troublesome PD behaviors.

One thing that has helped me with folks like this is to develop several pat answers to intrusive and personal remarks and behaviors. I also hold a very neutral posture with folks like this. I don't know about you, but I am a naturally responsive and interactive person and it draws people such as your coworker like a "magnet".  :yes:

I have learned to hold my expressions, body posture, tone of voice, level of interest, verbal replies to very short, boring, neutral responses. At first there may be some backlash, but in time, if you are consistent in your posture an attention seeker will move on to greener pastures in my experience.

Something you share here does have me concerned for you. You mentioned that this person has accused another coworker of sexual harassment and made mention of an innocent remark you made to be sexual in nature. For you own protection, I highly suggest you document that exchange and every troublesome exchange you have with this coworker and if you feel it is needed to protect yourself, using your own best judgment, I would consider speaking with my direct supervisor about it.

Another thing, by linking on your FB profile to OOTF, you are essentially outing yourself here. Anything you share here can be viewed publicly. One must join to post, but not to read the contents of the boards. Anything you share here could potentially be used against you if this coworker follows you here and recognizes your posts.

I cannot encourage you strongly enough to be very, very careful to guard your identify and privacy here and to change up the circumstances of your sharing just enough to avoid being found and recognized here. From our guidelines:
Quote from: OOTF Guidelines
Confidentiality is important to the safety of everybody on our board.  It is strongly recommended that members not directly or indirectly disclose their own identity.  Itís not uncommon for members to discover that the person with a personality disorder in their life has been reading at this site.

You are already handling this well by ignoring her and setting some physical barriers in place that are in line with the norm of your working environment and ignoring her odd comments.

I am really sorry you are experiencing this and glad you have found your way here. I hope you time here is a support and encouragement as you deal with this and build savvy ways of verbally and non verbally handling her behaviors. Make good use of the resources at the tabs above and come back often and share how things are going. We welcome your participation.

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Magnet

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2016, 11:17:27 PM »
Thank you for your fast response and a little relieving too.
First, were you suggesting that I am I connected to FB visibly here or did I misunderstand that part? I seem to think it was a cautionary word. I do not have my email listed, and I can't find a FB address, but I do understand that search engines can find my post and I've altered some of that to make sure there is some reasonable privacy.
As to the two incidents. In both incidents I did write it down the next day the first time and day two the second time. I then printed them out and mailed myself a copy of each, which will remained sealed with the postmark to prove the date. I also spoke to the right person after the first incident and told him about the accusation and the possibility of trouble brewing. I also mentioned that I have a sealed, self-addressed envelope with my side of that story that I've sent to myself if he ever gets a complaint. The second time I just sent myself the copy.
I'm feeling fairly good from your comments that my responses to this so far have been fairly good ones. I really appreciate that because these people tend to get in the folds of the cloth, and it seems worrisome to dwell upon. But knowing what is likely to come helps in preparing and bolstering myself for it. Also, I'm really glad you mention work as the best reason to improve this work situation. My partner also said that work was a good enough reason. However a few of my fellow workers also know that it's more than that, so that may come back to bite me a little, maybe just a nibble.
Thank you!

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Bloomie

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2016, 11:33:30 PM »
Hi Magnet - I was referring to this from your post in regards to you protecting your privacy:
Quote from: Magnet
but I wonder if I can do something to ratchet down the coming tirades with a pre-emptive post on Facebook linking the blog on NPD from Out of the FOG, and a key quote from the blog in my comment above it. Will that pre-emptive action help me in any way? Or am I doomed to get a social backlashing from the emotional vampire?

I may have misunderstood what you are saying here - I understood you to mean you were thinking of posting a link to OOTF info regarding NPD and commenting upon it on your FB page. My concern with you doing that is that it could potentially lead this person, and others, here to OOTF and reading through the posts it is a possibility someone could recognize the details. I hope that makes sense.

To put your mind at ease, there is nothing here that would link with your FB account. My concern was you linking yourself from FB to here. I only caution because we have had members found here.

Bravo with the documentation! You are ahead of the game with that and I am so happy to hear that you have taken such smart steps to protect yourself!!  :applause:

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Magnet

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2016, 11:45:04 PM »
You interpreted that correctly about the FB post idea. I've all kinds of fantasies about what to say or do.
After I posted that comment query, I realized it wasn't going to really help anything. I was really was hoping for more information to stem my anxiety waiting for the next shoe to drop - anxiety which you really helped with. Thanks for the heads up!
Also, I wanted to say, you were also correct, I think, in why I chose the username, Magnet.  :stars:
And I think you are correct on the Medium Chill comment.
Thanks for all :wave:


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Magnet

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2016, 01:43:56 AM »
Ok, here's an update on the above situation. Before she and I worked side by side again (a few days ago,) we had a work related meeting that brought us into the same room.

Yes I dreaded going into it. However I read a lot on Outofthefog, talked to a few good friends and reached a few conclusions or imagined myself through a few scenarios in advance. It all really helped. I accepted my fate that some of my blood may be spilled, but i could model a calm and moderate demeanor through it all, I would not be confused into repeating my points, I would continue with my statements until my thought was completely expressed. Shocker, see below, I decided to take the fall, but in a controlled way. It was an outline of a concept that I hoped would work for the best, but one that I couldn't invest too much worry about the outcome. It would be whatever. In the end, the solution was the most sane way to diffuse the situation with minimal loss of my blood. And really, c'mon, this problem did not rise to the crisis level this person pretended it to be.  :P

When the meeting time came, I arrived first. When she arrived, she immediately filled in a mutual friend on the situation with the partial barrier. She told it in a half truth. I slyly agreed in a mild expression, "I know! Then you got mad at me and started raising your voice with me. Then I got mad for being yelled at and wouldn't talk, so I never got a chance to tell you the reason I put that up."  :ninja: (All these quotation marked phrases are not verbatum and have been paraphrased.)

Then I fell on my sword by saying how I was interfering with her work and it wasn't right for me to do that with her. I also informed her that for the same reason I think I'm putting up a full barrier next time. Which is what I did. :ninja: :ninja:

In a way I think I was more nervous in anticipation of the exchange than when I went through it. The anticipation was that it would be like riding a dragon. The reality was the dragon had a great saddle, but I was entirely calm during it.

Thanks for all. I'll keep reading here. ;D
« Last Edit: July 27, 2016, 01:59:32 AM by Magnet »

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leapsand bounds

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2016, 01:51:24 AM »
 :fireworks:

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Bloomie

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2016, 12:11:38 PM »
Well done! What a great update. It sounds like you handled this well!

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Magnet

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2016, 12:29:59 AM »
Here's an update a month plus beyond my earlier post.

The emotional vampire, as I like to call her, has taken to talking a lot to people I know, including those she rarely if ever talked to in the past. It's like she's building her support system and her propaganda machine simultaneously out of my own contacts. Meanwhile I've been sitting quietly through my day and have a really peaceful time of it. I've let go - a lot.

There have been several attempts at hoovering with this one. I have taken a medium chill in all cases. I notice the drama more now. How big the little things are to her, or how big she wants them to be is more accurate. 

What she doesn't know is I can hear what she says in her space more clearly with the barrier. This is a great advantage for me. Something about how the sound carries, I guess. So I get to hear anything over a whisper, and she has problems whispering  ::)  I've heard hints of what she has been up to. For instance, she has tried other management avenues to interfere with my work, more aimed at implying that I violate the rules here or there, and trying to get me in trouble. So far it hasn't worked for her. In fact, keeping my head down may have only made her more angry. This may be ramping up and I'm not sure what's in store next.

Last week, she let me know about a small spill in my area, about the size of half dollar round. I looked at it and made a small joke and thought little about it until 30 seconds later when I heard her tell someone in an angry voice that I never say thank you (aways the victim.) About 30 seconds after that I stuck my head around the barrier and told her, "btw, thanks for letting me know," followed by another small joke that made light of the spill. It refuted her claim about me at the same time that I was still refusing to make anything into a drama or a big deal.

I believe she was infuriated by that. However, I really only care about managing the situation to protect me and my reputation as much as possible with a NPD without getting sucked into drama. I have no control over what she does with her wild responses to her imaginary world of hurt.  But it does bother me sometimes, because it's not easy going into a "what if" situation every time we work near each other.

I think I'm doing ok. But really I can't stress enough how not interacting with her has allowed me so much peace throughout the day. I think that peacefulness might be something to remember when the next big deal (which isn't a big deal) comes along. I sadly acknowledge that the next big deal will come along, some day. Until then, peace.

Cue any advice at this stage...? :blink:

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Obsidian

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2016, 07:58:04 AM »
Dear Magnet, I can only applaud your response to a very stressful situation!  :applause: It's not easy to deal with such people at work, as you can't evade them or retort to their insinuations as you'd like to.

I think you should carry on as you are doing now: protecting your reputation and yourself, without getting sucked in her drama.

Having said this, how do your other coworkers interact with her? Do your supervisors know about this situation and her behaviour? If you can't actively stop her harassment, you can only weight your responses: MC, polite indifference and evasion tactics  :sadno:

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Magnet

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2016, 03:49:34 PM »
Hey Obsidian,

Thanks for the support! It's good to get some confirmation that much of what I'm doing is the best in this situation.

I've informed the management but that's as far as it has gone, I sent myself a sealed envelope (think postmarked) with my accounting of the situation, and I have done as much as I can, I suppose. A good part of the effort is inner work. I'm catching myself from reacting. I'm not raising to the bait. I'm internally reinforcing the benefits of being who I want to be in this situation and I'm diminishing the importance of the negatives of losing those acquaintances who are clueless about her PD. I'm not fighting her efforts, but instead I'm presenting myself to mutual acquaintances as someone likable, which I truly am. Yes, all of this internal work hard to do, but the best choice is to carry on, and as you say, carry on as I have.

Other co-workers are the full spectrum of course. Some are totally into the pity party and offer her sympathy, sometimes with words one might use to address a delicate flower. All I can say to that is "ugh."

I'm not participating in her end runs to my friends and I'm allowing them to think what they want about what she says. I continue to be my normal, polite, and pleasant self. Some want to keep on good terms with her, some are sucked into her drama, and some are very happy to talk to me around her (maybe that indicates something, I don't know.) I can't control what people think or what they bring into their own sphere.

Additionally, my approach is to use the PD as a filter in some ways. She will be as nasty as she wants. I'll be myself. And others can judge the case on its own merits. This filters out those who have no potential of becoming true friends and at this point, I'm good with that.

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Bloomie

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2016, 02:13:59 PM »
Magnet - what great PD tools and skills you are using and it is important to note that your healthy neutrality in a covertly aggressive and hostile situation come from within. From your beliefs and values and how those play out in your life. This reads like how to handle an ongoing PD smear campaign how to:

Quote from: Magnet
Other co-workers are the full spectrum of course. Some are totally into the pity party and offer her sympathy, sometimes with words one might use to address a delicate flower. All I can say to that is "ugh."

I'm not participating in her end runs to my friends and I'm allowing them to think what they want about what she says. I continue to be my normal, polite, and pleasant self. Some want to keep on good terms with her, some are sucked into her drama, and some are very happy to talk to me around her (maybe that indicates something, I don't know.) I can't control what people think or what they bring into their own sphere.

Additionally, my approach is to use the PD as a filter in some ways. She will be as nasty as she wants. I'll be myself. And others can judge the case on its own merits. This filters out those who have no potential of becoming true friends and at this point, I'm good with that.

Bravo!! Thanks for the reminder that the battle is won in our hearts and minds and what/how we choose to think about things and what we believe about ourselves in relationships with others.


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bopper

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2016, 07:09:19 PM »
1) unfriend her on FB (or make it so she can't see what you are posting). If somehow she notices then just say 'I am keeping my work contacts on LinkedIn".

2) Talk to your boss about moving (if possible)...just say that you need a quieter space to concentrate on work. It is good that you have talked to them about the issue. 

3) Saying that you put up the barrier for HER benefit may be genius...but tell your boss it was so you can be at your most productive.
Just because they are incapable of loving you, doesn't mean that you are unlovable.
Anything makes the false self appear real is supply.

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Magnet

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2016, 09:36:59 PM »
Thank you for your continued support and advice. I really am grateful for this board for bringing a lot of sanity to my situation at work. I hope to keep it up with other NPDs I know . Here is the latest 'event' which includes major hoovering.

Again, Iíve heeded a lot of the advice Iíve read here and things have been so, so peaceful since Iíve cut all but the most basic civilities with my NPD co-worker. We hardly spoke for three weeks. Then an odd little hoovering event happened.

My birthday came and went. A few days later I was working next to her again and at a certain point in the day I was surprised with birthday cupcakes (2 pans, about 36 cupcakes.) She brought together a few people for the surprise moment, and it was interesting that one of those standing next to her at the moment of surprise was our manager. (I rarely see the manager at that point in the day, btw, but she just happened to be there for the cupcake surprise.  Interesting, huh?)

Of course, much to my chagrin, I felt it was necessary to show her the normal civil responses, including a thank you while everyone was there as witnesses.  After that she managed to explain how hard she worked and how few people does she ever bake for and how difficult it was to bring the cupcakes without me knowing, and on and on and on about what chore it was to be so generous. It was like an additional 5 minutes of her talking about her at my 'birthday celebration.' I ended up thanking her three times, and naturally, that wasnít enough. I made sure I distributed the cupcakes to everyone and returned the pans to the NPD within the hour.

I truly believe this NPD is a bottomless well that can never be filled by any amount of attention. 

So this is about it for now. I just wanted to add this to this cautionary thread so others may learn with yet another example of hoovering.

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leapsand bounds

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2016, 11:00:19 PM »
What a coincidence, the manager just happening to be there! :aaauuugh:


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Bloomie

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2016, 09:02:45 PM »
Magnet - there is no event that cannot be mined for a bit of N supply it seems. Sounds like you were efficiently gracious and kind. A sincere happy birthday to you!

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Magnet

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Re: Working within feet of an emotional vampire.
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2016, 04:58:03 PM »
UPDATE:
It's been a few months since this all went down and I'm providing an update here.
 
In October I took some time off and I was hoping this would all die down and the NPD would just go bug someone else. Now I wonder if this is even possible for NPDs as long as they know someone I know or are involved in the same work situation I am.
 
Around October she posted something on social media about taking medication for depression. After that, she started diagnosing me by telling friends and my husband that she thought I was depressed (medium chill is apparently depression in her eyes).

She has displayed somewhat provocative behaviors to get reactions from me recently, perhaps hoovering attempts, perhaps more about reputation damaging. One example is when she joined a small group in conversation that also included me. After a few moments she makes a point of saying hello to me directly, even though I had already said hello when she came up, along with everyone else. She did it two more times after that in the same conversation, to which I finally said, "Hello?" and gave her a shrug of the shoulders and a "so ...what's your point?" gesture with my hands.

In another incident she attempted to get me to accept an optional work situation that I had already firmly said no to, a situation where I had said no to her previously in front of other coworkers. This seemed a little like a provocation. 

And yet another side note is that she has declared to third parties that she thinks I am mad at her. I'm beyond the anger phase and into the indifferent phase now, but honestly, every time I see her I'm not real happy - so maybe the anger phase keeps coming back with each interaction.

I'm not sure what this is all about. Hoovering, possibly. Demonizing me, possibly. Trying to get me to say things she can use against me, likely. I continue to talk to her in a medium chill when she shows up around me, I don't make big issues out of her issues. I stay calm. She has started staying at my work area to talk to me for way too long (15 minutes, for example) even though I have little substance to add to a conversation.

I need some support here. I'm not totally sure what's up and NPDs can make us unsure of ourselves. What do you think is going on at this stage?

How am I doing and what can I do to improve?