Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Netgalley Review: Emotional Vampires At Work by Albert J. Bernstein

Netgalley is great for finding books that I might never have heard about or picked up otherwise. One such book is Emotional Vampires at Work: Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers Who Drain You Dry by Albert J. Bernstein. I'm not really into businessy books, but when I noticed this in a new-releases e-mail, I decided to check it out. I'm so glad I did!

In this book, Bernstein describes several types of emotional vampires: Antisocials, Histrionics, Narcissists, Obsessive-Compulsives, and Paranoids. They're not simply "difficult people," but people with actual, untreated personality disorders. He explains how to handle and interact with them, and the work cultures they create, without getting burned. Emotional vampires are essentially children. They operate solely on an immature, "fast thinking," instinctual level, and their goal is to bring you down to that level. Therefore, you can outsmart them with "slow thinking," moving beyond your knee-jerk reactions to their behavior and consistently responding in a mature and logical way. Bernstein helps you work toward this by identifying what your primary workplace personality is: Rebel, Believer, or Competitor. Certain combinations of personalities and emotional vampires are more disastrous than others, and he shows you what to beware of in those situations.

I appreciated the author's constant refrain that emotional vampires are not bound by conscience or compassion, and don't respond to things as a healthy person does. They see other people as a "source of sustenance" and not much more. In relationships with them (especially in a work context), our energy should go toward protecting ourselves from them, not trying to fix them. If we don't shield ourselves, we're in danger of becoming "infected" too. As someone conditioned to help people and give them chance after chance, I found this advice freeing and reassuring. Emotional Vampires at Work clearly focuses on the work environment, but the descriptions and guidance are very helpful for all of life, because emotional vampires are everywhere. If you read this and don't identify anyone you know, count yourself blessed.

I recommend this book for everyone. It's not very long, and the knowledge you'll gain will be valuable at work and in your personal life. It'll be good to have on hand for reference.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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