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Avoid the Drama and the People Who Live for It
Drama is emotionally draining, distracting, and annoying. Yet, some people live for it. Being in the center of drama makes them feel important and alive. It gives them an excuse to distract themselves from the reality of a life they find less exciting than it could be. They relish the theatre of any controversy.
This is not a problem unless they are on your team or in your life.
Some people are drawn to drama. They typically have a deep need for attention and want to be in the spotlight. As such, they attach themselves to thorny issues that don’t require them. They exaggerate the negative in any situation. Worse yet, when drama doesn’t exist, they create it. They make a big deal out of small issues and problems, creating conflict in the process. Because of their thirst for drama, their relationships are often tense and difficult.
It doesn’t take long for a leader to recognize they are managing a drama king or queen. Conflict and controversy find them in every corner. They play the victim or the aggressor in almost every team dispute, many of which they manufacture. Allowing them to suck you into their theatrical world is the mistake every good leader makes until they recognize the pattern. Leaders must then make a different choice. Leaders can’t feed their appetite for attention or they will make everyone on the team suffer from unnecessary conflict and negative emotions.
Taking the time and energy to sort out the complexity they perceive in every situation is not a productive exercise. In fact, dealing with team members with a proclivity for drama requires holding to a clear line. Good leaders don’t give energy to drama or the people who create it. They listen, nod their heads in agreement, and ignore it. They starve these negative thespians of attention and ask them to take the temperature down regarding any issue, perceived or real.
Once deprived of their need, they will either learn that the leader and team are uninterested in unnecessary conflict and curb it, or they will increase the volume to create even more of it. If they refuse to restrain themselves, the best direction to point them is toward the door.
Good leaders don’t give legitimacy to anything that is false, exaggerated, or dysfunctional. Drama usually combines all three. The best path is to stop getting involved with the fiction and ask everyone to stay focused on the work at hand. The drama can only materialize if other people play their part in it. Don’t engage. See if the theatrics will fade away. If not, the person who lives for the drama needs to.