How to Recognize a Dramatic Personality

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In Brief...

To be able to address problems with people most effectively, it helps to understand them. The following list of behaviors will help you recognize dramatic personalities in the workplace.


Drama queens and kings always add excitement to the workplace. The goal of the dramatic person is to get attention or to build up himself or herself. Unfortunately the effects of the drama can be costly.

Hero Syndrome

The hero syndrome is one presentation of the dramatic personality. The behaviors of the hero follow a distinct pattern:

  1. Through his or her own behavior, creates a problem.
  2. The problem eventually becomes an emergency and requires a "hero" to fix the emergency.
  3. The very person who created the problem then becomes the hero and fixes the problem.
  4. The behavior is reinforced by the gratitude of others when the problem has been resolved.

For example, a procrastinator postpones a project or delays the completion of a project until it becomes an emergency, causing worry or stress for others. The procrastinator then does an excellent job of completing the project, often sacrificing his or her own personal need to do so. Unfortunately, this causes other people stress and hardship when working around the procrastination and may have detrimental effects on other people's work or on quality.

The Victim

Dramatics may play the victim role. When their own performance results in a consequence that they do not like, their reaction becomes extreme. They use drama to distract the focus away from the initial behavior, thus minimizing the impact of the real problem. They may:

  1. Act shocked about the consequence.
  2. Act persecuted, as though the consequence is unjustified.
  3. Blame others.
  4. Have an emotional outburst, such as crying or yelling.
  5. Threaten extreme action, such as quitting or filing a lawsuit.

Author: Sheri Schmeckpeper

Sheri Schmeckpeper holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Financial Management and Computer Information Systems as well as a Master's degree in Adult Education and Distance Learning. She is a Microsoft Certified Professional and Trainer. Sheri has implemented distance learning programs at three top institutions of higher education, has been a guest speaker on radio, and has presented at local and national training workshops. Her diverse background includes technology, education, interpersonal relations, finance, and management. Sheri has developed and facilitated courses in the areas of instructional technology and online learning, faculty development, communications, finance, and professional development and achievement. She is currently co-founder of the Institute for Instructional Excellence and directs the Center for Excellent Living where she is also a life coach.