Are you a drama queen or do you work with one? Seven tell-tale behaviours

The office is a hotbed for producing drama queens – people who have a tendency to cause and magnify the seriousness and gravity of any given situation.

What I find interesting is that most drama queens would never define themselves as such, and in some cases will even accuse other people of it! Here is a list that will help you determine whether you or someone nearby is a drama queen.

1. They bond through complaining

When meeting and interacting with the people around us the tendency is to look for common ground. At work it’s quite easy to find common ground – your work. You can also discuss families or outside interests. For some reason, there is a tendency for people to bond around the negative. Talking about things that you don’t like, people that frustrate you, and celebrities that irritate. It’s a common practice with drama queens as it makes social use of their negative viewpoint on life.

2. They attach themselves to any disaster that may occur

The drama queen is on a constant search for creating more significance in their life. The mainstream media is a great source of material for the drama queen. Notably, large scale, sad news is something that drama queens seem to get heavily invested in. Of course we reach out and feel sadness at others’ misfortune, but there is something deeper about the way a drama queen attaches. It is as though they have been affected more than anyone else.

3. Minor inconveniences are made out to be major ones

Inconveniences are a part of life, there is always something that gets in the way of what we really want to do. Most of us internalise the frustration. We may vent a little bit, perhaps even swear under our breath if it’s particularly frustrating, but we move on. Drama queens love to tell everyone about it. They are the ones that will roll their eyes and sigh loudly in the hope someone will ask them what’s wrong. If nobody does, they’ll most likely offer an explanation as to why they’re so bothered. The drama queen will be heard repeating the drama or variations of it to several people – one on one, to groups, on the phone… any opportunity.

4. They produce complicated explanations for simple occurrences

As the thirst for drama continues, the drama queen finds ways to attribute elaborate and expansive explanations for simple things. Perhaps a manager walks in with a frustrated look and closes the office door immediately. The drama queen will quickly discover a whole story line to explain the exact cause of the manager’s furrowed brow. It will often have something to do with past baggage, speculation or extrapolation of simple facts. The answer to an unexplained mood is never simple for the drama queen.

5. Allergic to everything – especially deadlines

Without a doubt medical science is showing us that the prevalence of dietary conditions and allergies are increasing. Some of it can be explained by diagnostic tests being administered more frequently – but for some reason the drama queen seems to be especially prone to a variety of disorders even beyond food allergies, having larger than life reactions to stress, animals, people, paint, sounds, furniture, temperature, changes, computers. Not only is the drama queen allergic to an unusual array of things, but they also make sure that everyone is aware that they are allergic to everything. And the biggest allergy is to deadlines. No matter what time it is the drama queen freaks out – “oh no we’re running out of time” “We’ll never get it finished” “There’s not enough hours in the day” – always WISHING things could be better. “I wish it was Friday.”

6. Worst service ever

When heading out to a work dinner or function, the drama queen (who has most likely been quite vocal in the selection of venue, but is also the first to deliver a hefty complaint when the service is anything but five star) seems to be a magnet for problems. Why do they get the seat near the door that keeps opening, or the position under the cold air vent, the view to the toilets, the broken chair, the cold meal, the wrong food, the arrogant waiter, the lipstick on the cup, or the half empty glass? Drama queens attract bad service and are well versed in their delivery of harsh complaints. Drama queens will be quick to find fault with most suppliers, services and staff…and managers.

7. Being a sick martyr

The drama queen seems to thrive on suffering, and what better form of suffering is there than the common cold? It’s usually minor enough that they can function at work, but significant enough that everyone will notice. Those that speak to the drama queen will hear an exaggerated version of a blocked nose voice, see half drooping eyelids “ugggh I am not well at all” “I shouldn’t be here” “I could barely get up this morning – but I had to come in” “There’s so much to do and I feel shocking” “ooh I’m dying with this flu”.

Drama queens add unnecessary stress and negativity to many teams.
Sometimes though – the drama queen is perceptive – and even adopts the role of team comedian. They laugh at themselves, they make us laugh – but it’s all too rare.

Can drama queens change? What do you think?

Eve Ash, psychologist and CEO of Seven Dimensions, has produced over 500 business films, including some hilarious comedy films (www.7d-tv.com) and is a widely acclaimed public speaker (www.eveash.com).

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