How do you know if you're working with a drama queen? One of the obvious signs may be that they tell everyone they aren't a drama queen. According to psychologist Dr. Nate Regier, author of the book, Conflict without Casualties, instead of trying to manage or minimize conflict, people need to use it as a source of energy that spurs innovation, trust, and increased engagement.
The following is a guest post from Dr. Regier that explains how to tell if you're working with a drama queen, and what you can do about it.
Here's Dr. Regier:
I was signing books after a recent speaking engagement and a woman approached me quite excited about the "no drama" stickers we were giving away. She asked if she could take a handful of stickers, then proudly announced to all who could hear, "I'm going to put this on my office door because I don't do drama and I don't tolerate drama." This comment immediately polarized the crowd into two camps; those who agreed with her and cheered out loud, and those who felt uncomfortable with this woman's lack of awareness and chuckled under their breath.
Drama queen alert! Here are five signs that you're working with a drama queen.
1. Zero tolerance for drama
The first sign of a drama queen is someone who says, "I don't do drama!" Drama is caused by a misuse of conflict energy. Simply outlawing the behavior fails to recognize two important facts; conflict is a natural part of life, and nature hates a vacuum. You can't expect people to stop engaging in self-reinforcing behaviors without an adequate replacement. Not only that, the belief that, "I don't do drama," is naive. Everyone does drama to some degree.
2. Zero accountability for behavior
Drama queens never see themselves as part of the problem. There is always someone else or something else to blame. If they blame themselves and play the victim role, it's a ploy to get attention and avoid being open about how they feel or what they want.
3. Trolling for drama allies
Drama invites drama. Drama queens need to find more drama to keep the game going. So, they seek out others to play along with their passive-aggressive behavior, behind-the-back complaints, sarcasm, and avoidance. This is called gossip. Favorite hangouts for drama queens include; Facebook, e-mail, the company break room, and team meetings.
4. Relationships are a game to be won or lost
Drama queens see every interaction as potentially adversarial. They get defensive easily and try to win arguments, or they put themselves down as a way to seek attention. Somehow, they are able to turn every conversation into a competition, whether they are seeking to one-up you on their dramatic tale from the weekend, or trying to prove why nobody likes them.
5. Justification trumps effectiveness
The modus operandi in drama is to feel justified. For drama queens, being justified is much more important than being effective. The short-term payoff of being able to say, "See, I was right!" become more important than the long-term goal, maintaining integrity, or building trust in relationships. They would rather win the battle and risk losing the war.
Healthy people see conflict as an opportunity to struggle with others to create something positive. Drama queens see conflict as a weapon. The energy of conflict is misused to create more problems rather than solve them. And the casualties are everywhere; broken relationships, wasted time, lack of follow-through, low morale, toxic work environments.
If you have to deal with a drama queen at work and you want to make a positive change, consider helping them trade out these patterns of behavior with five new rules of engagement:
- Teach, coach, and practice healthy alternatives to drama.
- Take personal responsibility for all your choices and behaviors.
- Avoid or end conversations with drama allies.
- Seek to be effective instead of being right.
- Find ways to harness the positive potential of conflict.
If you are a parent, teacher, leader, coach or friend who wants to stop the negative impact of drama queens in your life, these same rules of engagement will make you a beacon of positive influence.