When I joined that board, I started to receive phone calls from a woman who was also affiliated with this group, but not on the board. These were never positive phone calls. She complained about other people. She grumbled when things didn’t happen the way she wanted. She started phone campaigns to other volunteers to try to sabotage the group leadership through behind-the-scenes manipulations.
For a time I took these calls and either just listened neutrally or, on occasion, agreed with her. The calls continued.
Then, following my Vicki Gabereau revelation that I referred to in my last post, I started to notice things in my environment that were not beautiful or positive or valuable. I noticed that when my phone rang and I saw her name on call display, my stomach churned. (Always watch for the stomach churn.)
I asked myself, “Do I need this negativity in my life?” The answer was no.
The next time the phone rang and her name appeared, I picked up the phone. She wasted no time before starting in on complaints about the man at the head of the organization and her plans to sabotage him at an upcoming meeting.
I didn’t let her speak for long. I told her that I thought that man was a valuable member of our team. I outlined the many good things that he had done and listed his gifts. I let her know that I thought he needed our support and that I intended to support him.
She ended the call so abruptly it made my head spin. I stood in my kitchen staring at the phone in disbelief. She never phoned me again, not even one time.
I realized then that she fed off negativity. She sought it out, created it, and revelled in it. If people didn’t feed her what she wanted, she wasn’t going to waste her time with them. She moved on to where she could find it.
She was what I call a negativity vampire.
Negative vibes are gourmet food for them and they lap it up and lick their lips and move on leaving a trail of newly created negativity vampires in their wake.
I allowed that in my life for a while because I either was neutral (they can coexist with neutral) or I encouraged it—joined in on the negativity game. But once I fed her something positive, she curled her lips in disgust and ran.
It was miraculous. It put me in mind of the Staples campaign—That was easy. I didn’t have to do anything negative or mean or hurtful to rid my life of that negativity, in fact, that would have fed the cycle. All I had to do to was be positive.
Since that time my radar for negativity vampires has become a finely tuned instrument. I recognize them almost instantly. I smile. I encourage. I mention that the glass is half full.
As an added bonus, positive people love this. What an amazing group of beautiful, positive, valuable people I have in my life now.
How many negativity vampires are in your life? Or your organization?
Do you tolerate them by being neutral? Do you feed them? Take my advice: smile, encourage, and mention that the glass is half full.
It works, and you will find yourself saying That was easy.