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Dealing with the Workplace Drama Queens and Kings

Most people are familiar with the concept of the drama queen. Of course, this phenomenon is not limited to women, so I prefer the more all-encompassing, gender-neutral term Drama Royale.

You’re aware of this person. He or she expresses over-the-top emotions about seemingly mundane things. With the Drama Royale, everything is the biggest thing in the world and their emotions express that.

And many a manager figures this person is just a huge disruption to the team.

But what if that person simply has an innate need to feel and express that emotion? In my study of personality, emotions, and group conflict, I conducted emotion measurements, using an actual measure for what’s known as the need for affect. This simply is the idea that people can have a need to experience emotion, and some people are hard-wired to feel that need more than others.

This need for affect is not only in-born, it’s measurable. You can measure it using assessment. In Psychology 101, we learn about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which establishes that everyone has an innate need for food, shelter and love. Those are the basics. But some people have other innate needs as well. And for some people, that need to express and experience emotion is simply part of who they are. So knowing this can give you a different perspective on the Drama Royale.

Some helpful ways to diffuse the power of a Drama queen or king include:

  • sitting down and have a conversation

  • setting clear boundaries

  • focusing on the task and process related conflicts (which can be productive and can foster creativity) and not the interpersonal relationship related disagreements

  • sticking to the facts

  • not engaging them in the first place

  • takimg some sort of intervening action like getting support from a superior. If it gets to this point, it’s in everyone’s best interests that you do that.

And in some of the less offensive instances, the best thing to do with the Drama Royale is to just let him or her express that emotion. It’s an innate need, and if it’s nothing more than a little annoying, you might serve everyone well by letting the Drama Royale be who he or she is, get it out of his or her system, and get back to work.

Granted, since you’re there, you’re going to be along for the ride. But at least now you understand a little better what’s driving that ride and how to take over the steering wheel when you happen to be in the car.

I discussed this in a past interview with Michelle Cohl, which you can see here:

Ready to give coaching a try? Or want to just test drive assessment? Just click here to get started.


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