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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

How to Avoid Being a Drama King or Queen

Every office usually has one: a Drama Queen or King. He or she can get everyone stirred up at the simplest of events and is successful at creating drama. In my private practice I call this "Mental Theater."

Mental theater is when we create drama in our heads so that it seems an event actually happened. Here are examples of destructive forms of mental theater:

  • A manager perceives that his boss is upset with him because he doesn't make eye contact with him while they are talking. So the manager proceeds to relate to his boss as if there really is a disagreement.

  • An assistant believes that a co-worker who is whispering is talking about her behind her back. The assistant then becomes hostile as if there has been a breach of trust.

  • A husband believes that his wife is having an affair because she is too friendly with the attractive gentleman next door. He then begins to treat her as if she's been unfaithful.

When we only have part of the story, we tend to fill in other parts. It's like putting a puzzle together and when you get stumped you pick up the box to see the picture so you can figure out where the pieces go. But what if you only have half the picture? It's like having half the story.

Ask yourself these 4 questions to work in the Smart Zone and course correct negative drama that can get out of hand.

  1. Is my thinking based on fact?

  1. Does my thinking help me achieve my goal?

  1. Does my thinking help me feel the way I want to feel?

  1. How can I change my mental theater to create a win-win situation?

Keep in mind that YOU are in charge of your own mental theater. When you have only part of a story resist the urge to fill in the blanks. Or use mental theater to your advantage by visualizing your success and filling in the blanks with a positive outcome. Chapter 8 of my book, Working in the Smart Zone, expands on this topic if you would like to learn more.

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