We all have that one person in our lives who turns the most mundane incident into a major federal case. If you’ve been feeling like you need some guidance for dealing with someone who’s dramatic, here are some things to keep in mind.
Ask Yourself Why This Person Is in Your Life
Listen. There is nothing at all wrong with eliminating certain people from your life.
Now, obviously, this may be more difficult to do if the overly dramatic person in your life is a spouse, blood relative or close work colleague. However, if you’re dealing with a friend or acquaintance with a flair for the dramatic who continuously rubs you the wrong way, there’s nothing wrong with re-evaluating their role in your life.
If you are dealing with someone who’s dramatic, and their drama is toxic or even just draining to you, there’s nothing wrong with gently removing them from your life. After all, you need to focus your energy on the people in your life who bring you joy!
Minimize Encounters If Possible
When dealing with someone who’s dramatic and inescapable, such as a sibling or coworker, try to do your best to at least minimize the interactions you have with these people. If you know that notorious office gossip-monger always eats lunch at the same time, try to vary your own lunchtime. If you’re dealing with a family member whom you must interact with at family gatherings, make sure to keep a good support system around you.
In all your dealings, be courteous — but plan an escape route for when that certain person starts to become intolerable.
Be Aware of the Techniques They Use
Dealing with someone who’s overly drama-prone can be easier if you understand the techniques they use. Dramatic folks use hyperbole and accusation and limelighting to draw attention to themselves.
Hyperbole involves behavior such as acting like the sky is falling over minor events, such as breaking a nail. Accusation refers to the drama king or queen blaming anyone but themselves for the mistakes they’ve made in life. Limelighting refers to drawing attention to themselves by any means necessary, whether that means throwing a tantrum in public, crying hysterically or causing a scene some other way.
By identifying when someone who’s dramatic is using these techniques for their own selfish ends, it becomes easier to simply walk away.
Set Firm Boundaries
Setting firm boundaries is a key to good mental health overall, but it’s especially important when dealing with someone who’s dramatic.
Dramatic people are like giant toddlers — they want your attention all time. This can quickly become exhausting! To remedy this, communicate clearly to the drama king or queen in your life when you are available to be with them.
Explain why you are sometimes unavailable if you must (you’re busy with work, raising kids, etc.), but stand firm. Otherwise, they may suck the life out of you.
Ignore Childish Pleas for Attention
Along with setting firm boundaries, when dealing with someone who’s dramatic, learn to ignore their childish pleas for attention. With drama kings and queens, everything is always a crisis or a disaster.
Learn to differentiate what truly is a crisis, and what the dramatic person is using hyperbole to make seem more serious than it is.
Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on in the wee hours from time to time, for example, but if that one friend constantly disturbs your sleep to play out her latest date-gone-wrong, learn to turn off your phone!
Don’t Reward Bad Behavior
Likewise, avoid falling into the trap of rewarding bad behavior. This isn’t as simple as it sounds.
For example, if that favorite drama king or queen of yours texts you saying they need to talk, like really, really, really badly when they know you’re at work and can’t take a call for fear of getting in trouble, say so and be done with it.
If you finally call them back after 20 texts, all you’ve taught them is that it takes them texting you 21 times for you to respond. Remember that “No” is a complete sentence in and of itself. Say it if you must, and then move on.
Distance Yourself From Angry and Abusive Behavior
People prone to drama will often go to any lengths to get attention, including violence. This can put you in danger!
If you’re dealing with someone who uses threats of violence to get attention, treat their threats seriously. Remove yourself from the situation immediately and, if necessary, contact the appropriate authorities. Do likewise if harm is threatened against another. Better safe than sorry!
Take Time for You
Finally, dealing with someone who’s dramatic is exhausting. Make sure you take time for yourself to regroup and recharge. This can involve turning off the phone, tuning into headphones, taking a bath or whatever else helps you to re-center yourself.
Remember: trying to deal with others, dramatic or not, without caring for yourself first, is like trying to pour tea from an empty teapot. Make time for yourself so you have the patience and clarity to deal with other people calmly and fairly — even the dramatic ones.
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