Drama queens and high conflict personalities can turn a small disagreement into a real hell. Here are some helpful conflict resolution techniques to use when dealing with them.
Who are drama queens and high conflict personalities?
Drama queens and high conflict personalities thrive on attention. They are fiery, strong-minded and often controversial. That’s why show business is saturated with them. Think of any reality TV show and you will find it that it’s crammed full of drama queens and high conflict personalities. Conflict resolution can be difficult to achieve when you are dealing with these types in real life, but a few techniques can help.
They blow situations out of proportion and create drama, which is why people find them so fascinating to watch. TV producers often encourage melodramatic behaviour, pitting several high conflict personalities against each other to see how they will respond. The long-standing reality series Big Brother is a classic example of this.
Whilst drama queens and high conflict personalities can be entertaining to watch, being surrounded by them in real life can have a different effect. At best, they are the life and soul of a party, thriving on attention and playing devil’s advocate to spark an interesting debate. At worst, they deliberately twist something that you’ve said and overreact to cause a scene.
The reality is that these personality types are very common and you are unlikely to be able to avoid them in life. They naturally cause conflict and that can be stressful. Drama queens and high conflict personalities can be particularly tricky in a work setting and can reduce productivity.
Here are some helpful conflict resolution techniques you can use when dealing with these tricky personality types.
1. Don’t rise to their level.
Drama queens and high conflict personalities thrive on melodrama. They want to cause a scene. If you find yourself in a debate, drama queens will often try and up the stakes. They will overreact and try to get you to do the same.
Having an awareness of this tendency can help you diffuse or avoid a conflict. When a drama queen or high conflict personality starts to raise the energy of an argument, remain calm and don’t match their level. This may infuriate some people, but most high conflict personalities will move on to someone who will provide them with drama.
2. Don’t accuse them of being a drama queen.
Calling these personality types out on their behaviour is more likely to stoke the fire. It’s more than likely that they know they’re being melodramatic, but reminding them will encourage this behaviour further.
For most drama queens, their behaviour is a game that they enjoy playing. Giving them credit will only encourage them to repeat the melodramatic behaviour. It’s essentially rewarding them for acting up.
3. Don’t let an audience gather.
If there is one thing a drama queen loves, it’s an audience. They also know what an audience will want to see and that’s drama.
If you find yourself in a conflict with a drama queen or a high conflict personality, try and take them away from other people. This is one of the essential techniques for conflict resolution when dealing with these types. They may try and resist this and ask other people to bear witness.
Be cautious here as drama queens will act more controversially if they have people watching them. They want to get everyone’s attention and give people something to talk about.
4. Don’t leave an argument unresolved.
Where possible, try and resolve a conflict with a high conflict personality as soon as possible. If you don’t, it is likely that they will try and raise the stakes of the conflict. They may get other people involved in order to stir up more of a story.
Drama queens also have a tendency to gossip. To avoid becoming the centre of this, try and resolve conflicts promptly and don’t leave anything unclear.
5. Don’t show them that you’re scared of them.
High conflict personalities often enjoy the power that they can hold over people who shy away from arguments. Don’t let these personalities dominate you in conversation or they may see you as a target for conflict.
If they know that you will be easy to argue with, they will want to try. They are likely to blow the conflict out of proportion and sustain them for longer than needs be, simply because they can get away with it. Let them know you are happy to debate in a calm and collected way and they will probably move on fairly swiftly.
These techniques can help you stop an argument and achieve conflict resolution with high conflict personalities or drama queens. However, the tactics shouldn’t put you off engaging with these personality types. With their flaws also comes positives.
High conflict personalities are also more likely to challenge pre-existing systems and authority, which is often necessary for progress. On a personal level, sometimes it’s good to be challenged. It helps us form new opinions and stops us resting on our laurels.
Whilst a drama queen might be over the top in some situations, they are often lots of fun to be around and can liven up social situations. Just don’t get drawn into the unnecessary drama that could turn into conflict.
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