How to Avoid Workplace Complainers & Energy Drainers (Part 2)

We touched the surface in the first part of this series last week on how each of us operates in a Superhero or Supervillian mode as a recruiter.  Linda Swindling, influence and negotiation strategist teaches us how to avoid the Top 5 energy drainers.  In blog II, she shares with us how to define each one and ask the right questions during the interview in order to avoid hiring energy drainers.


Have you ever seen the statistical data on the cost of selecting the wrong person for a position within an organization?  The cost can start in the hundreds, move into the thousands, and possibly enter the millions, depending on the level of the position, size of the organization, and the time in which the turn over transpires.  Harvard Business Review recently released a statement that 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions.  Steve Jobs stated it superbly, “How well a team works together can be more indicative to company success than just the aggregation of employee skills.”  Companies must focus on the big picture of how the new hire will fit in the position and team, along with the culture of the company.



I grew up on a dairy farm and think cows can teach us allot about the art of crowd psychology.  The greatest thing about cows is they can be found day in and day out hanging in the same places together.  One day they will be at the top of the hill under the shade tree, the next day they will be down in the creek chilling out, and another day they will be resting by the silos.  You can always be certain that they will be mooooving in the ‘same places’ with the ‘same herd’.

In order to build a leads lists to fill an open position, companies need to source potential candidates from similar groups where their current performing employees are members.  Just as a cow hangs out with its herd, a strong candidate hangs out with his/her similar group.

Once you have your sourcing list, it is now time to screen the candidates to determine who will be submitted forward in the interviewing process.  This is where Linda comes in and can provide details on how to avoid the complainers and energy drainers.


The following are exerts taken from Linda Swindling’s book, “Stop Complainers and Energy Drainers”

Whiners (complain by showing disapproval, venting, or withdrawing)

Whiners are energy drainers and even pouters who create messy, inconvenient work drama.  The disruptions they cause involve negative emotions, illogical behavior, irritants, and interruptions to getting your job done.

Complicators (employ complaining tactics that frustrate, complicate, and create confusion)

Complicators are impeding, obstructing, criticizing fault-finders who delay and hamper others.  They complain to maintain their sense of stability of control.  Complicators are passive-aggressive in their approach.

Prima Donnas (complain by seeking attention, complain by seeking attention-even negative attention-by gossiping)

Prima Donnas use complaints as a means to obtain visible recognition for themselves.  They use an aggressive approach to satisfy their need to be admired and liked by many.  Prima Donnas feel comfortable in the spotlight and often seek it to the exclusion of others.

Controllers (use a variety of aggressive complaints in their attempts to reach an outcome, to control situations, and to control people)

Controllers are the bullies and tyrants of the workplace.  They are aggressive, condescending, superior, challenging, impatient, intimidating, and demeaning.  They are articulate, think well on their feet, and may use profanity or threatening words to get things done.

Toxics (dangerous individuals who use complaints and misinformation to manipulate and poison the environment to further their self-absorbed agendas)

Toxic behavior is attributed to those self-absorbed people who concentrate on preserving or furthering their self-interests.  Toxics have no conscience and will use any of the complaining energy drainers behaviors to get their way. They use complaining to control their environment and support their own interests.


Q1: If I were to call your previous manager for a reference, what would they tell me?

Q2: Tell me about three times when you failed. How did it happen? What did you do to correct it? (taking responsibility)

Q3: How did you handle a difficult co-worker, or one you did not get along with? What would you change or do different if ever in the same situation (conflict resolution)

Q4: If someone told you something about another co-worker, what would you do or say? (ethics)

Q5: Describe the best leader you ever had. How has that leader affected your leadership behavior? (leadership style)

Q6: How do you handle an employee that is difficult and or resistant to participating on team projects or does not contribute their share on projects?(coaching style)

Q7: Have you ever disagreed with your superiors and how do let him/her know? If so, describe how you continue working with him/her on assigned projects/assignments? (handling conflict)

Come back next week, February 13th, for blog III on how to use your own transformational leadership style in order to combat the supervillain and remain in your superhero mode.  My personal opinions and experiences will be shared in the final blog.  Thank you, Linda for the wealth of information provided in the first two blogs.  Your expertise in this subject matter provides insight into areas of self-discoveries that we all can benefit from in order to understand ourselves better, so we continue operating in our Superhero modes. To learn more visit her website

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Monica Miller

Monica Miller, CIR-PRC has worked in the healthcare industry for 12 years and transitioned from a C-Suite Executive Assistant into a Corporate Recruiter after completing a psychology degree. Her recruiting experience includes working with small and large businesses focused on behavioral and performance based interviewing. In her spare time, she offers pro bono career advice/resume writing to job seekers, connecting candidates with hiring managers via social media. Connect with Monica.


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