Video: Dealing With Difficult People - Drama Queens

 

Dealing With Difficult People: Drama Queens

We've all had to work with drama queens and drama kings, and dealing with difficult people can be incredibly frustrating. But there is a very simple way to calm down drama queens and kings. Four simple words: “Just the facts please.”

Now, why does this work when dealing with difficult people? When you think about drama queens and kings, what they want to do is live in the realm of the emotion. They want people hopped up. Why? Because that's where they're comfortable. They want people to look at them, they want people to be frantic, and so the more they get us spinning and spiraling out of control, the happier they are.

Now, when you think about how we interact with each other and how we process information, there are generally 4 layers: there's Facts, there's Interpretations, there's emotional Reactions, and there's Ends. FIRE is what it ultimately spells. Where the drama queens and kings like to live is the emotional reaction part of this.

Let me give you an example. Let's say a drama queen/king walks into your office, and they say, "Oh my gosh! There's water all over my desk! I think the roof is going to collapse! This whole building is unsafe! I told you headquarters has never cared about us as employees! " This is certainly an example of dealing with difficult people.

Okay, now, that's a lot of drama. Let's start to parse this out a little bit. Okay, they came in and they said, "There's water on my desk." That's a fact and let's just presume for the moment that there is water on their desk. Now, what have they taken that to mean? What's the interpretation they make? Well, the interpretation they made is that this means the roof is going to collapse and we're all going to die and headquarters has never cared about us anyways. Their emotional reaction, obviously, is they're frantic, they're anxious, they're whatever. And, as a desired end, they probably want us all to evacuate the building post-haste.

Now, we look at this situation and we go, "Okay, well, I get the water on the desk. That's something I can actually deal with. The headquarters hates us, the roof is going to collapse, I don't know that I'm quite ready to make that leap yet." So what we need to do is when they come in and say, “You have to evacuate everybody! This is just horrible! I told you they never care! We need to tell everybody that they need to leave and need to go tell headquarters that they're all full of %#@!" What we need to do is to say, “Okay, time out.”

What we're going to say when dealing with difficult people, with drama kings and queens is, "I just need the facts.” What are the facts?  And they say, "There's this torrential flood!" And you respond, “Well, I don't know what that means. Explain to me. How many inches of water are on your desk? How big is it? A giant puddle? Is the entire desk covered? Is it 1 inch by 1 inch like if you knocked over a glass of water? What are we talking about here? I need to know the facts of the situation."

Now, drama queens and kings hate that. Why? Because they want you to get spiraled and amped up and crazy just like they are. What they don't like is when you say, "I just want the facts."  To that they say, "Well, you don't understand. It's awful!" And you respond, "No, just, time out. Just the facts because that's what I can deal with. That's what I can control right now, so share with me what the facts are." And they say, "Well, I don't know!" "Okay then, we're going to pause again, and then say, “What I'd like you to do is go out and assess the situation. When you have some facts, you can bring those back to me, and then we can proceed from there."

The trick with dealing with difficult people, with drama queens and kings, is to focus on fact-based communication. When dealing with difficult people, you don't want interpretations, you don't want conjecture, you don't want crazy emotions, you don't want histrionics, you don't want catastrophizing, you don't want any of that when dealing with difficult people like drama kings and queens. What you want are facts, because once you hear the facts, now you can address the situation. And by the way, when you focus a drama queen and king on facts, when you force them to address the facts, it makes you a lot less appealing dramatic target, and so they tend to calm down simply because you're not all that fun to be dramatic around.

Posted by Mark Murphy on 18 October, 2016 Leadership Skills, Video | 0 comments
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