(CNN)You sit down at your desk and are about to start your workday when a coworker saunters up to you. After 20 minutes of chatting, your colleague finally leaves you alone, but you find you are too drained to complete any tasks efficiently.
Workplace 'energy vampires' can drain your life force. Stop them with these tips
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You have become the latest victim of an energy vampire.
Energy vampires are toxic people who suck away your life force, leaving you emotionally exhausted, whether they are egotistical, manipulative or just overly talkative. One of their favorite hunting grounds is the office, so employees need to be cautious when returning to in-person work, according to Tessa West, associate professor of psychology at New York University and author of "Jerks at Work: Toxic Coworkers and What to Do About Them."
"I think of these people as depleters because every time you interact with them, it's a stressful experience," West said.
Some of these predators are easier to spot than others. However, the most tried-and-true signs are feelings of uncertainty and apprehension prior to engaging with them, she said.
"If you can actually feel your heart rate and your palms are physically sweating, that means you're in a really rough spot because most of the time stress responses aren't perceptible," West explained.
Feeling stuck talking to someone who doesn't contribute to your work goals may also be an indicator, she said. You feel like you've been busy all day, but you barely completed any tasks, West added.
These people can be disguised as extroverts who provide input at meetings and volunteer to join committees to be seen and recognized, but who rarely complete any tasks themselves, she noted.
Other times, energy vampires are blatant pessimists, said Peter Economy, author of "Wait, I'm Working With Who?!? The Essential Guide to Dealing With Difficult Coworkers, Annoying Managers and Other Toxic Personalities."
They are the people who walk into a room with a rain cloud over their head, and over time, the victim may become more negative too, he said.
Managers aren't exempt from being energy vampires either, West said.
A leader who allocates work to other people without offering to do anything and invents problems that don't exist may be an energy vampire, she said.