It's All About Her
by Joanne Kaufman
Dealing with a diva
So what do you do when you have a drama queen in your life? If running as fast as you possibly can in the other direction isn't an option - and with someone like your boss, it's not recommended - try these tips from Judith Orloff, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA.
1. Never ask a drama queen how she's feeling. She's bound to have a crisis brewing, so don't even go there. "Her antics can wipe you out," says Dr. Orloff. Especially with the drama queens you work with, keep your conversations as professional as possible, and send the message that your job is your top priority.
2. Set limits - then stick to them. When your friend calls to discuss the drama of the day, tell her you have only ten minutes to talk: "Say 'I'm sorry this is happening. I love you, and I know you're stressed. Here's what I think, but then I have to go,;" suggests Dr. Orloff. If she knows you won't humor her outsize demands, she may stop making them - or she'll learn to look elsewhere.
3. Take a slow breath and center yourself when you sense her revving up. "An energy vampire succeeds only if she jangles you; if you stay calm, she'll go on to another victim," says Dr. Orloff. When the drama queen is your mother-in-law or your coworker-someone you absolutely can't escape - remembering to take long, deep breaths can be your secret stay-sane strategy.
Finally, try to appreciate her if you can. Most likely, she's entertaining to be around. And that's the thing: Having a relationship with a drama queen is like landing a front-row seat at a soap opera; someone else does the emotional labor - and you get to sit back and enjoy the show.