Dramatic manifestations, exaggerated stories and frequent conflicts are signs of a person who likes to get attention. If someone is bothering you with these behaviors, the best thing to do is ignore them. Setting personal boundaries can help you stay calm and in control of the situation. However, if you are a close person, you may need to help them deal with this behavior with a mental health professional.
Method 1 of 3: Reacting to Behavior
Step 1. Ignore her if she does something that bothers you
Ignoring the behavior is the best way to show that the person will not get your attention. Don't look or ask her to stop. Just pretend you're not seeing anything.
- This type of person enjoys both negative and positive attention. For example, she may start whistling because she knows it irritates you and that you will complain. As difficult as it is, ignore the whistles in the future. Put on a headset and listen to music while it's happening.
- If the person uses stories to get your attention, make up an excuse not to hear them. For example, say, “I have to work now” or “Sorry, I'm busy”.
Step 2. Stay calm for the moment
If you can't ignore her, try not to show any emotion when they're interacting. Don't express anger, frustration or excitement. Don't pretend to be interested either – just have a calm, calm expression.
- For example, if a co-worker sits down next to you and starts talking about an argument with the boss, just shake your head. When he's done, tell him you need to get back to work.
- Try not to ask questions if he's telling a story. Respond with a few words, such as “Oh, cool” or “I know”.
- However, if the person has a genuinely good idea or a funny story, don't be afraid to show interest. Everyone needs genuine attention from time to time. If you're really interested in her hobbies or her stories, you might end up enjoying the conversation.
Step 3. Only ask for the facts if she tries to come off as a victim
Playing a victim is a common way to arouse compassion and receive praise. A person who likes to get attention can tell a dramatic story in which he was attacked and insulted. In that case, ask objective questions about the facts of the story, not the emotions or perspectives of those involved.
For example, if she's recounting how rude the cashier at the supermarket was, say, “What exactly did he say? Did he really say that to your face? Where was the manager?”
Step 4. Learn to walk away during dangerous or extreme situations
People who live to get attention do it because they need reactions. Some may even do dramatic scenes to get what they want. If the situation gets out of hand, step back to show that this behavior will not bring about the desired response.
- Do not reward dangerous scenes or jokes with attention. If the person engages in risky activities just to get attention, be direct and say, “I don't like to see them hurting themselves. If this continues, we won't be able to go out together anymore”.
- If you think she is at risk of harming herself or others, get help as soon as possible. Some signs of intent to commit suicide include talking about one's own death, donating material possessions, or increasing alcohol or drug use.
- If she does numerous public scenes of crying and screaming, suggest she see a mental health professional.
Method 2 of 3: Setting Boundaries
Step 1. State what behavior you will and will not tolerate
Make the person understand that they cannot tolerate certain types of behavior. If she knows something won't get your attention, she might stop doing it in the future.
- For example, if you don't like your friend touching you, say, “Would you stop hitting or grabbing me when you want my attention? Knock on my desk if you need me.” Ignore any touches in the future.
- You can also say, “I know you like parkour, but I get nervous when you show me videos jumping off buildings. Please don't show me anymore”.
Step 2. Set limits on conversations
A person who likes to get attention can fill their entire day with stories and needs. To get rid of this, say at the outset how much time you have to talk. When time runs out, the conversation ends too.
- For example, if she calls, say, “Hi, I can only talk for 15 minutes. What's it?".
- If they're together, say, "Let's have lunch, but I need to leave at 2pm."
- Put an alarm on your cell phone to know when it's necessary to cut off the conversation. When the alarm goes off, it will signal to both of you that time is up.
Step 3. Stop following her social media profiles
Some people share or post a lot on social media such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. If the posts are annoying, remove them from your feed or unfriend her on the network.
- Posting too much on social media can be a sign that the person needs more of a human connection. If it's someone you like, get in touch by phone or in person and arrange to go out with her.
- If she posts controversial content, you may be tempted to comment or reply, but it's important to resist that urge.
Step 4. Minimize contact if it is causing you stress, anxiety, or irritation
If the person is creating a huge burden in your life, cut off contact if possible. Otherwise, reduce interactions as much as possible.
- With family members, make one call a month or just greet them at family events. You also don't need to answer their calls constantly.
- Tell coworkers that you prefer to talk only about professional matters, especially in the office. If they try to talk about work dramas, set a time limit before going back to work.
Method 3 of 3: Supporting People Close to You
Step 1. Find out if there is a pre-existing cause for this behavior
Attention-getting behaviors are sometimes the result of trauma, neglect, or stressful situations. It can also be a sign of low self-esteem or feelings of insecurity. If it's someone you like, try to find time to talk and see if there's something that's causing this behavior.
- You can start the conversation by saying, “Hey, I just wanted to see how you are. It's all right?".
- If the person doesn't want to talk, he doesn't have to. Just show that you're available if she needs it.
Step 2. Improve your friend's self-esteem when he is not actively seeking your attention
He may worry and feel that no one cares about him if he is not constantly seeking people's attention and approval. Show that you love him, even if you're not paying him direct attention.
- Send random messages saying, “Hey, I was thinking about you. I hope your day is going well!" or "I just wanted you to know how grateful I am for everything you do."
- You can even say, "Even from a distance, you are still very important to me."
- It's important to take the initiative so that he doesn't try to get your attention. This will help you understand that it's not necessary to resort to drama or conflict to get positive attention.
Step 3. Suggest professional help if the person wants to get hurt
Extreme behavior can manifest itself as a threat to hurt or kill yourself, lock yourself in your bedroom, or despair of little things. These are usually signs of mental problems. The good news is that your friend can get support and treatment from a competent mental health professional.
- Say, “I noticed you seem pretty upset lately. I love you and I want to see you get the help you need.”
- These behaviors can be a call for help. Try not to see threats just as an attempt to get attention, as they may be real.
- Personality disorders, such as histrionic or borderline, can cause many people to engage in extreme attention-grabbing behaviors.