Are You Working with an Emotional Hoarder? How to Tell and (More Importantly) What to Do About It

As I understand it, the television show “Hoarders” has a rabid following. I haven’t watched it (I vacuum out my toaster oven…that’s a different kind of show…) but previews give me the gist.

Various interactions over the past few days have left me thinking what a show about emotional hoarders might look like. My guess is it wouldn’t get the same ratings– people who hoard things are more fun visually than those who hoard power– though the impulse is the same.

If you’re wondering if you know one—and don’t know what to do about it—read on:

Clue #1: They are the originator of every s.i.n.g.l.e. thing they know
Emotional hoarders (also known as praise hoarders) are the first ones not to give credit. They have no teachers or mentors and their boss/colleagues have never had a good idea. Instead, every thing they know or do (*with one caveat: see Clue #2) is their bright idea.

Clue #2: They are the first to assign blame
As noted above, those who struggle with emotional hoarding are first in line to take credit…until things go awry. When this occurs, you will find them wiping off their literal and figurative fingerprints post-haste.

Clue #3: They are the hero/heroine of every story they tell
Another giveaway is the stories these types tell. If each and every tale told features their knowing best or their saving the day, there isn’t going to be much room for you to blossom and grow.

So….yuck, right? Should you recognize someone you know in the above, what can you do? 

While it’s tempting to fight fire with fire, the fastest and easiest fire to use is to flip the things above on their heads:

Antidote 1. Give praise
Closing the day with a simple, “Good work today” goes a surprisingly long way toward building camaraderie. If you don’t believe me, try it.

Antidote 2: Be accountable/Stay focused on solutions
When things fall apart, acknowledge any part you may have played immediately. After that, move briskly along to what you are going to do to rectify the situation.

Antidote 3: Be the first to let others know you couldn’t have done it alone. 
Strong leaders know they can’t do everything alone—aside from anything else, it’s not a good use of their time. So when your collaborations lead to success, be the first to tell the tale of how others helped make it happen.

Not only will the above mitigate the ‘yuck’ factor mentioned earlier, it will demonstrate your leadership skills to those who may be watching.

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