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How to Deal with People Who Can’t Stop Getting Attention

How to Deal with People Who Can’t Stop Getting Attention

Have you noticed how some people always want to be the center of attention? Whether at work or play, they behave in a way that makes them stand out from the crowd.

You meet these people regularly. “Mr. Outrageous” dresses and acts in such an eccentric way that heads turn when he walks down the street. “Ms. Flirty” oozes appeal that men can’t resist. Even women take notice of the way she moves and her sultry voice. But wait. Are these normal levels of attention seeking or something more?

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Attention seeking individuals may be suffering from “Histrionic Personality Disorder.”

Even though you’re sure to be familiar with people who crave attention, you may not be aware that they could be suffering from a mental illness known as Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD).[1] The American Psychiatric Association defines HPD as a personality disorder characterized by excessive attention-seeking behaviors and emotions.[2]

If the word “histrionic” is new to you, here’s how Merriam-Webster[3] defines it: Deliberately affected, overly dramatic or emotional, theatrical.

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Think of reality TV participants. Frequently they display the traits listed above. In most cases it’s obvious that the participants are huge attention seekers.

How to Identify People with Histrionic Personality Disorder

Let’s now look at how to quickly spot people with HPD. They’re likely to display some or all of the symptoms below:

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  • Intense, unstable emotions
  • Inappropriately flirtatious or seductive behavior
  • Constant need for reassurance and approval
  • Easily bored by routine
  • Overly concerned with physical appearance
  • Problems maintaining relationships
  • Uncomfortable in situations where they fail to be the center of attention

It’s important to be clear that we can all suffer from the above symptoms from time to time. However, individuals suffering from HPD are prone to exhibiting the symptoms incessantly.

The Cause of Histrionic Personality Disorder

Mental health studies have revealed some of the likely causes of HPD:

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  • Brain wiring response to early developmental trauma caused by neglect
  • Genetical inheritance
  • Environmental factors such as lack of criticism while growing up

Why Recognizing Histrionic Personality Disorder Is Important

Whether they are colleagues, friends, or loved ones, it’s critical that you recognize someone suffering from HPD. In doing so you’ll be able to help your relationship with them – making both your lives happier.

As an example, let’s imagine that your boss suffers from HPD. He or she has terrible mood swings and the annoying trait of making small errors on your part seem like major disasters. They also lack the ability to focus on their daily duties, so often hand over their work for you to handle. If you didn’t know that he or she suffered from HPD you’d likely be driven crazy by your boss! However, once you become aware of a personality disorder you can learn how to adjust and cope with the strange behaviors.

Top Five Ways to Deal with Histrionic Personality Disorder Sufferers

You’ve now learned what HPD is and how to recognize it. Let’s conclude this article by looking at the five best ways of coping with people suffering from HPD:

  1. Stay calm when interacting with them. HPD sufferers can easily become agitated. By being calm around them you’ll help to de-escalate any over-the-top behaviors or emotions.
  2. Keep your distance. Whether sitting or standing it’s important to keep a reasonable distance (e.g., 3 or 4 feet) from HPD sufferers. This is because HPD sufferers typically have a hard time understanding boundaries. If you get too close they may act inappropriately towards you.
  3. Question their behavior. For this method to be successful, you must only question their behaviors in a gentle, friendly manner. For instance, if you feel their outlandish clothes are unsuitable for a serious event such as a funeral, this is a good time to ask them questions. You could word it this way: “Your clothes are amazing, but don’t you think something a little plainer would be more suitable for the funeral?”
  4. Recommend they take up meditation or yoga. Meditation and yoga are known for relieving stress and inducing calmness. These are positive traits that can be especially beneficial to a HPD sufferer. If you already practice meditation or yoga, then why not ask the HPD sufferer to come along to a class?
  5. Suggest they seek treatment from a mental health therapist.[4] If interacting with a HPD sufferer is proving too much for you, then you should definitely suggest to them that they seek professional counseling. A qualified mental health therapist will be able to help the HPD sufferer to manage the symptoms. Excessive attention seeking can be a warning sign that someone is suffering from Histrionic Personality Disorder. By learning the symptoms associated with Histrionic Personality Disorder, you can quickly identify affected individuals. Once you become aware of someone suffering from this disorder you can take the recommended steps above to help both them and yourself.

Reference

[1] MSD Manuals: Histrionic Personality Disorder
[2] American Psychiatric Association: What are Personality Disorders?
[3] Merriam-Webster: Histrionic
[4] Good Therapy: Find the Right Therapist

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Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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