Saturday, 25 October 2014

Prima donnas

I've worked with plenty of prima donnas in my time. Or should I say I did my best to work with them, as they're impossible to please however hard you try.

The tell-tale signs of a prima donna being:
  • Changing their opinion every ten minutes
  • Never being satisfied with anything
  • Wanting everything their own way
  • Puffed-up with self-importance
Trying to pin them down on anything at all is like nailing down a lump of blancmange. Trying to meet their ever-shifting demands is like wrestling with an octopus. They're endlessly evasive and enigmatic.

I could name someone I work with right now as a classic prima donna. But since another key feature is sensitivity to criticism, I think I'd better wait till I've moved on to pastures new.

The obvious prima donnas are of course those showbiz stars who insist on all sorts of special treatment to go with their elevated status - obscure dietary requests, new toilet seats, air purifiers, specific room temperatures, everything in their favourite colour, special toilet paper, you name it.

But prima donnas pop up in every walk of life - families, political campaigns, dinner parties. There's always one, driving everyone else nuts. They never notice how annoying their impulsive and erratic behaviour is to those around them.

There was a bookshop manager I once worked with who was never happy with my work. Whatever I did, he always wanted it done differently, and every day his diktats would change. However I defended my time-tested methods, he always thought his methods were better.

I've never been a prima donna. I'm good at working with other people. I may be neurotic, insecure, anxious and timid, but I'm at least consistent and pin-downable. No guessing games required.


  1. you know that old saying: when you point the finger there's three pointing back at you

    when one really understands the saying it becomes quite illuminating

  2. I feel like that picture.

  3. Kylie: In that case we've all got a lot of fingers pointing back at us! I'm sure I could be accused of many, many failings....

    Susie: So do I, quite often. Other people's behaviour, the general state of the world....

  4. I beg to differ, Nick. I find Prima Donnas hugeley amusing. Yes, really. To the point where I feel rather sorry for them since they do themselves no favours but provide me with plenty of fun and amunition. To simmer resentment at a prima donna? Nah, keep your energies for better things.

    You have never had a prima donna moment, Nick? Well, you've missed out. I certainly had one, nothing to be proud of, nothing to be ashamed of, just vaguely amusing. Must have been about seventeen or eighteen. Was cast as the lead character in some theatre play. That I didn't even want the role is neither here nor there. Anyway: Rehearsal time. A friend of mine was most concerned that we were running late on our way there. "Don't worry", I said to him, "they won't be able to start without me." Sweet, isn't it? The logic beguiling. Anyway, as I opened the door with a beaming smile everyone was just relieved to see me at all. Yes, Nick, that was my Prima Donna moment. Liz Taylor has nothing on me.


  5. Ursula: They can be very amusing. I didn't mean to imply total loathing! There's certainly no resentment, just irritation and guesswork mainly.

    I can't recall any prima donna moments, though no doubt Jenny or my family could. I very seldom insist on my opinion prevailing. I'm a natural work-arounder.

    I can imagine how relieved everyone was when you finally arrived at the rehearsal!

  6. I've never worked for anyone else...but I've met plenty of prima donnas in my time and real pains in the proverbial they are too: totally self absorbed and attention seeking.

    I'm not a patient person and have a volcanic temper, so for that very reason try to work around things as much as possible to keep conflict at a minimum and reach a satisfactory goal, but I don't waste my time on the prima donnas of this world.
    They get it in spades.

  7. Helen: Yes, I could have added attention-seeking to the list. As you say, prima donnas are best avoided unless you're obliged to have dealings with them for some reason.

  8. I have had plenty of Prima Donnas cross my path over the years. They do not impress me, so I let them be and go in search of 'interesting' people.

  9. Grannymar: Ideally we can give the prima donnas a wide berth. But sometimes we're obliged to deal with them whether we like it or not.

  10. It reminds me of a Jean Kerr play years ago. One introvert said to another, "The trouble with extroverts is they take up all the oxygen in the room." Yes, best to avoid them if you can. Life is too short.

  11. Jean: I don't think extroverts are the same as prima donnas. Extroverts are just people who crave company and chatting to other people. They aren't necessarily egotistical or demanding. I've no problem with extroverts except that non-stop talking can be quite tiring after a while!

  12. oh gawd,
    extroverts dont even necessarily talk a lot. extroverts gain energy around other people, introverts gain energy from alone time.

    i get so sick of introverts looking down their noses at extroverts. we dont think any the less of you

  13. Kylie, once again you're reading things into my remarks that aren't there. I don't look down my nose at extroverts at all. Extroverts with their social skills and adventurousness are very necessary to oil society's wheels. A gathering of nothing but self-contained introverts would be a total disaster. I know some lovely extroverts who're wonderful company and encourage me to be more forthcoming.

  14. i wasnt referring to your comments nick

  15. I guess I'm glad I've never worked with one!

  16. What you must try and get to see Nick is a room full of Prima Donnas. You will see wo/mankind at its best!

  17. Bijoux: You're very lucky, they could drive you totally nuts.

    Ramana: A room full of prima donnas? The mind boggles. When and where did you experience that?

  18. There was a time that I used to be dragged to attend Bollywood parties by a dear friend who is no more. I have seen that sight alright.

  19. Ramana: That sounds like a prima-donna nightmare, for sure!