How to handle the office drama queen
At the moment I am mainly working with a small number of people or I work for myself at home so I can honestly say this blog is not directed at any current colleagues…promise! However in the past I may, just may, have worked with some people that could be called ‘drama queens’. I also may, just may, have been called this by my family once or twice, I assume it was with affection but possibly not! I have never been called a drama queen at work because I do try to hide as much of my slightly annoying personality traits while in the office as possible… But, it does take one to know one and yes in fact I can confirm they are somewhat annoying!
The office drama queen could just be a little theatrical (like me!) or they could be someone that is generally at the centre of whatever conflict is taking place in the office. They tend to have a widespread knowledge of the office gossip, can be found sharing this knowledge in the office toilets or during after work drinks. They can be temperamental, so much so that other members of staff do all they can not to inadvertently offend them. They can be manipulative, self-important and well just a little bit crazy. Sure they can be quite fun from a distance but not so much when they want something from you!
So how to do you avoid them when as I’ve always found they love to be centre of attention? Well ignoring them will only get you so far. If you are not in close contact with this person, pretending they do not exist is not so difficult but what if they are a close colleague, a member of your team, another assistant or heaven’s forbid – your boss!?
Here are a few tried and tested methods I’ve learnt over the years and a few my family have used on me!
1. Be super super busy
They will have less chance to talk to you if you appear to be really busy. Be busy to the point of rudeness. Ask them to send you an email with details on what ever they need and don’t stay still for too long in case they manage to corner you. Super busy people don’t have time to hear gossip and they don’t have time to hear tales of woe thus making them too busy for the office drama queen to really concentrate their efforts on.
2. Be specific
If you have to be around the office drama queen, if they are senior to you or you are working for them clarify the objectives of the work and try really hard to stick to conversations that only relate to the objectives. Try not to get stuck in an office with them and if you do have to attend a meeting with them try to to let them take control of it and always alway book a meeting straight afterwards so that you can leave on time.
3. Don’t take them too seriously
Unless you manage to stay totally under their radar at some point you will probably be at the receiving end of their drama. If you are unlucky it may be something they think you have done. Don’t take their issues too seriously because it will become apparent that nobody else does either. Stand your ground but don’t let them hurt your feelings or cause you to be upset. That will just fuel their fire.
4. Take notes
If you are dealing frequently with a drama queen, especially a more senior drama queen, keep a copy of every piece of communication that has taken place between you. That includes notes from any meetings that the two of you have together and obviously emails too. If they ever play the blame game you will have your side of the story at hand and in detail.
5. Go above them
It is a pretty pointless exercise arguing with a drama queen. They will never think that they are in the wrong so don’t waste your time. If you have a conflict with a drama queen speak to their manager and take your notes with you. If the drama queen is your manager (poor poor you) then can you wait it out until they are inevitably fired? I once left a company because I had a drama queen for a boss (she was like a character from a terrible soap opera) and within a few months she was made redundant… I wish I’d held out a little longer.
6. Get them to like you
I can’t say I’ve enjoyed doing this but sometimes it is just easier to have a good rapport with the office drama queen. Get them to like you and they may well give you a break from their usual crazy behaviour. Just don’t get too friendly, it won’t do your reputation as a personal assistant any good. Also never ask them how they feel, cause they will tell you and their answer could take up a good chunk of your day.
7. Call them on it
Has anyone actually done this?! I’d love to know! It can be hard to call their bluff but it can also feel very very good. Don’t cause extra conflict or drama but sometimes it is worth just telling them how it is and how you feel for a change. Just saying!
8. They come in all shapes and sizes
Oh yes, sometimes the drama queen can be a drama king, sometimes they can be the drama director and the drama CEO.