How to Deal With Drama Queens
By Dawn Barclay on August 02, 2012
I know someone who creates a drama out everything that doesn’t go her way.
She thrives on creating ‘a scene’ and doesn’t stop until someone is paying full attention to her, and only her needs.
Maybe you know someone just like her?
At work or in your personal life. I've witnessed this person leave others utterly speechless with their emotional explosions, and sometimes it's not noise and mayhem she creates, she can change the mood of a room, and even a party, with her coldness and silence.
In the past I've had to mentally prepare myself before I made a visit to her home: just in case the day I picked a drama was occuring, brewing or had just passed.To protect myself I don't do 'cover myself in a bubble of great white light', it's never worked for me.
But on the way there, I would play possible scenarios and how I will manage myself and my own emotional state.
Remove them from my life? No, I love them, it's only a behaviour I don't like.
They do have some wonderful other qualities. The saddest part of this is they would only perform the drama to me.
Maybe I was at fault, at one point I did think I could ‘help them’ (note to self: never coach friends) perhaps I made myself too available to them or I created the environment to say 'it's okay, you can do drama with me.' I’m no saint.
And yes, it did used to bother me when she never asked in a conversation for an hour and half, ‘How are you?’ and if she ever did; she never waited for the answer before it was back to her needs and the drama of the day. I remember the day they said they 'don't do empathy'.
Ahhh, friends. Today, I’m also learning.
Tonight out walking the dogs, loveeeer was having a mini-drama about dramatic peeps in their life, to which I said ‘Why not be a little more tolerant of others, try and see it from their perspective’.
So between my friend and what I said tonight to lover it’s got me thinking.
- When someone is continually sucking you into their life drama, how can you stay apart from it and still be there for them?
- How can you care and not allow someone else’s drama to become yours?
- How can you create a safe relationship where both sides are equal, even if one person doesn't think the needs of the other are important?
- Can we?
Here’s my thoughts:
I think we can. But I also know (from the experience above) that we also need to protect and respect ourselves. Because maybe one day the drama will stop. I'm a big girl, I wish they valued anothers needs like they do their own, but for now they don't.
#1 Stay off the Stage
The drama queens and kings like nothing better than to include people in their performance. You don’t have to take part; you don’t need to step onto that stage with them. Watch from the balcony, as soon as you start paying attention to the drama or the performance, pull yourself back to your seat.
Ask of yourself: what can I do to help (not rescue) this person right now? Then do it. That may include walking away.
Ask yourself: what are they getting from this drama? Are they trying to tell me something that they can’t manage right now?
Ask of yourself: what do I need right now? And do it. Nothing states anywhere you have to watch.
#2 Remember It’s Not Your Show
I’ll admit it’s difficult watching and listening to my friend going through the ‘dramas’, there's a part of me that thinks 'why do you do this to yourself?' I know the answer: they are getting something from it. Play it cool. Don't fuel their emotions with your own.
Whatever their reasons (which they will have) know it's not your play, it's not your story. Be honest with the review. If you don't like a behaviour say so, you can do this and still respect the other person. You could try: "When (insert the behaviour) it makes me feel (insert the feeling), I would prefer it if you would (insert the desired behaviour).
Of course they don't have to listen. But if they don't, that says a lot more.
#3 Bring Down The Curtain – Boundaries
All relationships have boundaries. And these boundaries will be different person to person. If you were a coach you would have fixed boundaries: the lines you never cross. Can friendships have the same? I think so. Another friend of mine is always late. Not once in 16 years they have never been on time, ever.
We do laugh at the time she travelled the world for a year, and missed the last flight back to Edinburgh from London. We have boundaries now, the wait will be no more than half an hour. Give her time to be who she is, and us both a cut off point.
Boundaries keep you safe. So before an interaction with the dramatist:
- Protect yourself for each interaction. Know what you will tolerate, and what you won't. In coaching we agree times, perhaps you agree with the drama queen a 'free-reign' of time, and that's it?
- Do what’s in your best interest and theirs. If you can’t listen, say so. If you need to create some space, create it.
- Tell them what you will and won't tolerate. And then know what you will do if it's crossed. And stick to it.
I asked the same question on Facebook: some would ignore, but what about you how do you deal with people who create a drama out of everything? Do you?