Monday, July 22, 2013

Dramatic Royalty

For the five Mondays in July, we'll deal with dealing with one type of difficult person.

The King and Queen are on their thrones! Oh brother! Here we go... I am talking about the King and Queen of the kingdom of Drama. When they hold court, confusion, hurt feelings, and negative emotions abound. They will suck you in and will not let you go. You'll be a prisoner in the dungeon of Drama!

I say Drama Kings and Queens because women do not have a monopoly on drama. Many men have a flair for the dramatic too. Dramatic Royalty have a way of making everything about them. You are merely an audience member or a bit player. These people simply aren't happy unless things are emotionally in disarray.

They read into even the most innocent of behaviors and assume some sort of nefarious intent. A friend tried to make a joke when on a shopping excursion The Dramatic One tried on a pair of pants that were too tight. Now, the friend is being hateful towards them and is ultimately jealous of their great relationship (huh?).What started as a snowball (my boss wasn't thrilled with my presentation) turned into an avalanche of emotion (I'm going to lose my job, and then my relationship and finally end up homeless and alone on the street!).

There is always crying or yelling or maybe the silent treatment. They use extreme emotion to get their way and they continue to do it because usually it works. They like the attention and to hold people captive with their pendulum-swinging emotions. Those on the other side of the emotional tsunami want it to stop. We want them to feel better and be okay. We want peace. They count on us to give them the emotional enabling they need.

Three tips for dealing with Dramatic Royalty

  1. It's them, it's not you. While they will selfishly try to find a way to blame you for their problems, it's not you, it's them. And, it is not your job to make them feel better and to always be the one to solve their problems. As long as you take ownership for them, they will never take ownership for themselves.
  2. Let them go ... but don't go with them. When the tantrums start (and they will) let them go on ... and on ... and on. Don't try to stop them (unless they get physical); but don't give into them either. This is the part where they expect you to cave in to their demands. Don't do it. Do not argue or attempt to reason with them either. Once they get an emotional rise out of you, they have won.
  3. Stay calm and stand up. Say no. You are entitled to your time, your money or whatever else they are demanding. You are entitled to being treated with respect and like the adult that you are. You will be called selfish but you aren't the selfish one (see #1). If there is something you can do for them, be clear about what you can and cannot, will and will not do for them. Be willing to walk away. 
Think about their immaturity this way. Kids stop the tantrums when they realize that no one is looking at them. As a kid, I always wanted to throw something when I was angry. I stopped doing that when I realized that I was the one who had to clean up the mess I'd made. When children know what they can't get away with they stop the behavior. Notice however that the immature behavior starts again when they are with someone who tolerates it. Dramatic Royalty works the same way. When you stop the madness, the madness will stop.

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