Dealing with Difficult People: the Prima Donna (or Heir Apparent) Self Help Articles | July 23
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The prima donna, the heir ... aka the "bone in my nose" type ... often star ... who are take a lot of time and energy out of your day.BONE IN THE NOSE Matthew had it all. A degree from the
The prima donna, the heir apparent, aka the "bone in my nose" type ... often star producers who are take a lot of time and energy out of your day.
BONE IN THE NOSE
Matthew had it all. A degree from the best college, phi beta kappa, a long record of the highest academic achievement, startling good looks
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, and great social skills. "I could walk in there with a bone in my nose and they'd hire me," he told me.
"Not with that attitude," I replied.
"I know," he said. "I temper it."
And there's the key with the prima donna, or heir apparent. They have all the things they advertise, and you can't remove it from their experience. They've got what it takes, and have had many experiences of being the star. The thing is
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, did it "spoil" them?
Matthew talks loudly, but he knows how to behave in a real-life situation. That's one of the things you want to look out for. Matthew's the kind who said, "And I said." and then goes on saying what he "wishes" he could say, but he knows better than to have said. In other words, Matthew's an heir apparent with EQ, the kind of exceptional performer you want to hire, IF you can manage him correctly and help him keep it on a leash.
If you're working or relating with one of these
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, understand that they're used to getting a lot of attention. They're used to being the star. They expect waves to part when they enter the room, and this isn't some fantasy they've made up. It's based on the fact that it's happened in the past, quite often from the day they were born.
What you need to figure out is, DO THEY THINK THIS ENTITLES THEM TO
SOMETHING YOU DON'T!
Prima donna originally referred to the principal female singer of an opera company (in Italian it means "first woman"). It has come to mean "a temperamental person; a person who takes adulation and privileged treatment as a right and reacts with petulance to criticism or inconvenience."
Heir apparent, which I use for males, of course refers to the first-born son who's going to inherit the throne. If groomed well, he's taught character. When not
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, they are narcissistic, entitled, and above the law. (The king and queen have a bit of a job to do - that's why Merlin was hired - and so will you, if the king and queen failed at their task.)
"Inconvenience" to these folks can include:
. Doing what everyone else has to do
. What you might reasonably expect of anyone
. What the job requires
. Making coffee
. Meeting deadlines
. Doing something they consider beneath them
. Or anything else - like I said, they're temperamental!
HOW TO DEAL WITH ONE?
1. FIGURE OUT HOW DEEP IT RUNS.
If it's more or less confined to their work-role, it's more manageable. There's a difference between "I'm a damn good technician," and "I'm better than everyone else on earth simply by dint of being." If they think their needs are legitimate and endless
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, and should be met at the expense of everyone else's, they're not worth keeping around.
2. UNDERSTAND THEIR MOTIVES.
Yes, they're after attention, adulation, etc., but the key is - at the expense of what. If they're running rough-shod over team-mates, customers
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, or you, it's not going to work. If they're performing well and being respectful ENOUGH of your people, policies and procedures, find out what makes them smile (raise, percs, time off) and give them more of it.
3. DETERMINE THEIR CHARACTER.
Some people manage some annoying personality traits (such as arrogance and perfectionism) without being unethical or abusive. They may 'present' and 'talk' more than they act out. The thing to test for is do they consider themselves (1) indispensable or (2) above the law. No one is either, and if you harbor one in the fold
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, it will turn out to be a wolf in sheep's clothing and you will have no one to blame but yourself.
4. DETERMINE YOUR ABLIITY TO DEAL WITH THE STAR.
Some can, some can't. You have to have a lot of EQ to deal with the heir apparent.
5. BE DIRECT AND IMMEDIATE.
The heir apparent tends to continually be planning a coup d'etat. When you catch wind of it - and your nose for catching the wind had best be sharp - call him in, confront him, tell him to stop in no uncertain terms, and then monitor. Calling them on it immediately is crucial. They don't back off to subtleties.
6. GIVE THEM A HOME RUN PITCH.
Consider confining them to a singular role. If you have the kind of situation where you can put them on a lone project, do so. They like to hit home runs, and may well score one for you.
7. CAN THEY EVER FUNCTION AS PART OF A TEAM?
Let them answer that question for you. Immerse them in team work and meetings. If you're not sure they can be part of the gang
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, give them more of the gang to deal with. They will sink or swim. You're providing the water for the experiment.
8. GIVE OTHER 'TESTS'.
All the things you've heard about prima donnas, you can go ahead and test out. Ask them to do what everyone else has to do, and see how they function. Are they willing to get into the trenches? Make coffee? Stay late? (Use your own EQ, and do this with respect. You accomplish nothing if you're a prima donna too, and don't treat people with respect.)
The aggressive ones you'll ferret out right away. It's the passive-aggressive ones whose nonverbal communication you'll have to be able to read.
9. THEY AREN'T SUBTLE. THROW OUT THE GAUNTLET.
In other word .
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