How to handle the office drama queen

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.

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4 comments

  • Ann July 1, 2013   Reply →

    You were wondering if anyone has tried #7 of your methods of dealing with the office drama queen,(or as I like to refer to them, “queen bees”, ” work-place bullies”, “snakes in the grass”, etc.), I did do just that, and called someone out after having to put up with tremendous amounts of harassing comments, manipulation, intimidation, etc. I tried all of the other methods, and then some, and got no where. When I did finally come to a place that I could take no more and “called her out”, she went ballistic! I mean crazy! I have a documented health condition that I have to work with daily, and people think the laws protect us. Well, not from my experience. I am still at my job, (and so is she for that matter) but suffer major anxiety each day that I go to work, and I am looking for another job. 🙁
    It seems to me, that those of us who go to work each day, try our best to do what we are supposed to and do a good job, are the ones who gets the privilege of looking elsewhere and leaving, no matter how good we are or how much we love our jobs!

  • Sally July 11, 2013   Reply →

    I did try #7, I basically got so fed up I just told her that she didn’t have to be so mean about things, that it causes extra grief to others due to her ‘position of power’ as the Office Manager’s PA…
    It’s been over a year now, she’s still being nice! Kind of wishing I’d just said something sooner now, I skirted around it with individual responses to each situation, but it just didn’t click with her until it was fully called out.

  • Edmund McTetteh August 6, 2013   Reply →

    I hope this 7 points will help me cope with the office drama.

  • Christine June 8, 2015   Reply →

    I agree with these suggestions. It is really hard working with a drama queen. They are such a drain on energy, negative and incessant. I got to the point where I got so sick of my boss who is a drama queen speaking for me. I started to tell her “what it is.” This person when I first started working with her admitted to all kinds of horrible things. She told me she’d tried drugs, tried to kill herself, she talked about sex, wanted to get engaged. Uh..vay. It made me literally nauseous. Now that she is engaged, all she talks about now is every little single thing she does every day and night. It is frightening that she does not seem to realize how inappropriate to just off her behavior is. I have gone over her head a few times and they are finally moving me. She harassed me for months trying to give me things. And she has made comments about me and other people that just make my skin feel icky. “I wanna touch you.” Uck. I have tried to be tactful, but this woman is borderline nuts. They must be really desperate for manager where I work is all I can seem to think. Either way, I really need distance from her. It’s just been the worst.

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