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Attention-Seekers
January 27, 2007
11:11 pm
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Loralei
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I found this online article interesting. I know we have already covered an array of personality disorders but I have become more aware of the manipulation of attention seekers and the perpetual victim. I was quite surprised when they listed that under the heading of bullying.

"Attention-seeking behaviour is surprisingly common. Being the centre of attention alleviates feelings of insecurity and inadequacy but the relief is temporary as the underlying problem remains unaddressed: low self-confidence and low self-esteem, and consequent low levels of self-worth and self-love.

Insecure and emotionally immature people often exhibit bullying behaviours, especially manipulation and deception. These are necessary in order to obtain attention which would not otherwise be forthcoming. Bullies and harassers have the emotional age of a young child and will exhibit temper tantrums, deceit, lying and manipulation to avoid exposure of their true nature and to evade accountability and sanction. This page lists some of the most common tactics bullies and manipulators employ to gain attention for themselves. An attention-seeker may exhibit several of the methods listed below.

The Attention-Seeker

Motivation: to be the centre of attention
Mindset: control freak, manipulation, narcissism
Malice: medium to high; when held accountable, very high

emotionally immature
selectively friendly - is sickly sweet to some people, rude and offhand to others, and ignores the rest
is cold and aggressive towards anyone who sees them for what they really are or exposes their strategies for gaining attention
overfriendly with their new target, especially in the initial stages of a new working relationship
overhelpful, ditto
overgenerous, ditto
manipulative of people's perceptions, but in an amateur and childish manner
manipulative with guilt, ditto
sycophantic, fawning, toadying
uses flattery to keep a person in authority on side
everything is a drama, usually a poor-me drama
prefers not to solve problems in own life so that they can be used and re-used for gaining sympathy and attention
capitalizes on issues and uses them as a soapbox for gaining attention
exploits others' suffering and grief as a vehicle for gaining attention
misappropriates others' statements, eg anything which can be misconstrued as politically incorrect, for control and attention-seeking
excusitis, makes excuses for everything
shows a lot of indignation, especially when challenged
lots of self-pity
often as miserable as sin, apart from carefully constructed moments of charm when in the act of deceiving
demanding of others
easily provoked
feigns victimhood when held accountable, usually by bursting into tears or claiming they're the one being bullied and harassed
presents as a false victim when outwitted
may feign exclusion, isolation or persecution
malicious
constantly tries and will do almost anything to be in the spotlight
includes Munchausen Syndrome
the focus of their life is to be the centre of attention"
From http://www.bullyonline.org/wor.....attent.htm

January 28, 2007
12:15 am
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serenityali
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Interesting to say the least and I will leave it at that.

Ali

January 28, 2007
12:24 am
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bevdee
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This is a timely post. Thank you so much Loralei.

January 28, 2007
12:43 am
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Loralei
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Bev, it's a fine line we walk sometimes. When you are afraid to speak out and say what needs to be said, if nothing more than to defend someone who was only trying to help. Ah, the guilt-trippers. So now I just practice avoidance so I won't be drawn into the drama. This one is just too similar to another recent episode that I wish I had stayed out of. I'm just here to support the supporters. 🙂

January 28, 2007
12:51 am
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bevdee
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Loralei,

I know. I have sat here and looked at your post. Thought about similars. The fact that you say "When you are afraid to speak out". When you are afraid, is it because of the resulting bullying that takes place?

January 28, 2007
1:03 am
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Loralei
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Bev, it is because I already know that no matter what I say, that it will be misconstrued. I'll be politically incorrect no matter what my intentions. I will be in the exact same place as the person I wish to exonerate. There are too many who can't see the forest for the trees. Damn, I hate to talk in riddles but neither do I wish to harm anyone.

January 28, 2007
1:12 am
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bevdee
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Loralei

I understand. Been there. A request for clearer communication, or pointing out inconsistencies garner a stinging response. The thing I noticed- from my family, and an acquaintance of mine? When someone says, "I'm not mad or anything-" whoa, look out, here it comes.

See the communication style is not direct. That bothers me. It is conflicting and confusing. I beleive it is meant to confuse. With my family, I get tired of being the assertive communication police, but the detector is always there. It will never go away.

January 28, 2007
1:28 am
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Loralei
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Bev, I hear you loud and clear. I love people who speak directly and straight from the heart. I've never needed anything sugar-coated or for people to walk on eggshells with me. But I have such a hard time communicating with the indirect types that you spoke of. I can make a statement that seems clear as a bell to me, yet it gets twisted and misunderstood. My exboyfriend was one of those indirect talkers. A conversation with him was like a guessing game for me.

But I have noticed the different types of thinking processes that takes place here. It's like the logical thinkers vs the random thinkers or something like that. It would be an interesting study.

Well, time for me to hit the hay. Thanks for being around to chat. (((Bev)))

January 28, 2007
9:22 am
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bevdee
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Loralei,

I know what you mean about guessing games. That's why on this forum if I don't understand, I try to point blank ask. I hate to make an assumption.

Another thought I had on communicating styles, because my mom used to do this all the time. She constantly "read" things into my statements, perhaps because she herself communicated with innuendo, she assumed everyone else did too. Then? If she perceived it to be "unfriendly" to her - she attacked.

Because of her methods, I listen and read carefully - most of the time.

"Thanks for being around to chat."

My pleasure.

January 28, 2007
9:28 am
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lollipop3
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Bev.....

"....She constantly "read" things into my statements, perhaps because she herself communicated with innuendo, she assumed everyone else did too."

This was a BIG issue for Snow and one that I hope he continues to work on. Because he has been dishonest....he assumes everyone is dishonest. Because he speaks in riddles.....he assumes that everyone speaks in riddles. Because he has been untrustworthy.....he believes everyone is untrustworthy.

January 28, 2007
9:41 am
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bevdee
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Lolli

Yes- We project from what is within us?. For example I am (in a legal/ethical sense) honest, and it amazes me that someone could actually come up with a way to scam someone out of money. I don't think like that.

January 28, 2007
12:19 pm
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gracenotes
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Loralei,

What an important and timely post. I really appreciate you posting this and all the other words of wisdom in responses you have expressed here.

I posted on another thread about how I decided to leave a situation vs. get into a big drama about it and, a few days later, it still has ended up being the best decision for me on a deep gut level. I am in no pain about this.

Sometimes, maybe often, just withdrawing involvement is the best choice. I cannot change the other person, they do not want to change anyway, and I doubt if I can change much all the skewed perceptions that were, in part, brought about by the attention seeker to serve his own needs. I could imagine putdowns of me could have been part of the scenario. And, if it involves the politics of a school or work organization, then that's another layer of difficulty, although there always been to be healthy people in any organization that I can connect with at least to talk about it.

Here's a quote that really spoke to me from earlier in this thread:

emotionally immature selectively friendly - is sickly sweet to some people, rude and offhand to others, and ignores the rest is cold and aggressive towards anyone who sees them for what they really are or exposes their strategies for gaining attention overfriendly with their new target, especially in the initial stages of a new working relationship

That sounds so much like the guy, more like a kid really, and brings to light the pointlessness of exposing him for who he is. I know who he is, but I am careful and I don't partcularly want him to know that. I've been in a situation or two like that, and it can really get ugly, and I feel like the victim because I am not hardwired to manipulative, con, lie, etc. I am, at heart, more a truth seeker.

Being a healthier person, yes, I need to look at the big picture, who else this would affect, long-term effects, and whether my needs at truly being met. Being a healthier person, I also care less what others' think.

January 28, 2007
2:36 pm
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Loralei
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grace, withdrawing involvement is often the healthiest choice. That's one thing that this site is helping me with. I'm such a fighter when I know I'm right about something. I get this overwhelming urge to debate, to argue, to prove my point. And just who am I proving anything to? Myself? If I'm feeling especially upset about something, at least I now sleep on it before allowing myself to respond. Oftentimes, the issue has already resolved itself without my help. Whereas if I get involved, I'm beset with anger, I can feel my blood pressure rise. These aren't healthy signs. So I'm learning to walk away or to go to others for assurance that I'm not totally off my rocker. So thank you, grace and Bev for giving me the peace I was needing.

January 28, 2007
3:34 pm
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Loralei
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"This was a BIG issue for Snow and one that I hope he continues to work on. Because he has been dishonest....he assumes everyone is dishonest. Because he speaks in riddles.....he assumes that everyone speaks in riddles. Because he has been untrustworthy.....he believes everyone is untrustworthy."

Lolli, I hope you recognize that for the big red flag that it is. People can change, but they usually just change "some" not all of their behavior. You will need to stay vigilent and call him on it each and everytime he slips. My husband has always been 'less than accurate' about things. He exaggerates and outright lies for no real reason at all. Although most of the times it's about harmless, insignificant things, it is truly worrisome. I've spent decades trying to get him to quit and have had little luck. I think I've been a good influence on him. No doubt he would have been MUCH worse if he hadn't had me around. But some of these 'habits' never really go away. Sometimes i feel like I'm dealing with a child who never learns from his mistakes. Just know that these are deepseated issues.

January 28, 2007
4:35 pm
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lollipop3
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Hi Loralei,

Yes, I do realize these are red flags. But they are red flags that have been present since day 1....5 years ago....so it's certainly not something new to me.

Snow is a bit like your husband where he lies about the most insignificant things (with the exception of the whopper about his son). I never understood WHY until I got to know his parents better. They seem like nice people but prove that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

This issue is one of the things that I have semi accepted about him but also something that we continue to work on. And truthfully, he has come a long way.

I do realize how deep seated these behaviors are so I don't honestly expect them to disappear completely.....but as long as he can keep it under control....I am willing to accept that about him. Not that I like it....just that I'm willing to accept it.

Love,
Lolli

January 28, 2007
5:40 pm
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Loralei
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"Not that I like it....just that I'm willing to accept it."

That's what relationships are all about, acceptance.

January 29, 2007
2:35 pm
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bevdee
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Loralei,

Thank you for this post. "That's what relationships are all about, acceptance."

The hardest relationship I have is the one with myself.

Thank you for everything.

January 29, 2007
5:39 pm
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Loralei,

Thank you so much for this site. I've passed it on to our HR director and the EAP contact. They both liked it.

Take care,
Cyndra

January 29, 2007
5:59 pm
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I have to tell you guys a story about my Diva niece, who one yr ago moved across the country to live in my little town because she loved it (and me and my family) so much.

I have not, since high school, lived in the same STATE as anyone else from my family or my husband's family, although we trekked back and forth quite often over the years.

I wanted to share a day of going to the art museum with my niece. She decided her sons were likely to get into trouble before very long there, so we left them at home, but we took her 2 daughters, one a very delightful teenager who loves art, and the other a 4 yr old Diva Jr.

As we strolled through the rooms with these enormous ancient carved chests and statues, Little Diva had a tendency to want to touch. I read the DO NOT TOUCH sign to her a couple of times. I guess Big Diva had had to correct her more than once, but I had not noticed. But this great big scarey-looking black museum guard HAD noticed Little Diva! My niece is inCREDIBLY beautiful and sexy (no family resemblance -- she was adopted at birth by my sister). Little Diva looks like a tiny Drew Barrymore.

They draw alot of attention in public because of the way they look. It seems to have its effects in that when they notice they are being watched, their voices get louder, their demeanor more dramatic.

I've learned so much about attention-seekers since she has moved here.

Anyway, this Day in the Art Museum.....erupted when the Big Guard had had enough of Big Diva "assuring" him sweetly that Little Diva would not touch yet another artifact, when he could see that she was simply NOT restraining her. So he kind of lost it....busy Saturday afternoon....and from his mighty height told Little Diva in no uncertain terms she had to stop.

Little Diva went very quiet and reached for her mother, who snatched her up and told this guard she would "appreciate" it if he didn't scare her child like that, that it wasn't necessary to frighten her, etc.

I didn't recognize the pattern of behavior you are talking about in this thread at that time.

However, at this point my niece was not taking ANY responsibility for anything. She immediately deflected the "fault" onto the guard, not her precious baby.

The guard had probably had some experience in haughty Divas before, because he started to defend and argue. The back & forth between them accelerated quickly....WAY more quickly than I could see a reason for....

This guard actually insulted my niece by saying something about how he could tell my niece wasn't a very good parent, I think, because of the way my niece "carried" herself!! My niece told him he could go "watch" his art objects and leave her alone, thank you. He suggested her education was WAY less than his. SHE insulted his being a student STILL and not being able to get a "real" job.....It was nuts. I'd NEVER been involved in such an interchange in my LIFE!

I noticed the nearby 2 or 3 rooms had definitely heard every word as well. I walked back to my niece and gently herded her along away from the Guard. He WAS actually pretty angry-looking and this SCENE was bizarre to me. After SEVERAL minutes, my niece came away, but managed a couple more comments BACK at him on her way out.

We exited through the remaining rooms un-hurriedly, trying to be as casual as possible so Little Diva wouldn't have this worst experience connected to museums for the rest of her life. By the time we reached the main floor lobby, I was on my way to find someone in charge to report the incident.

Big and Little Diva had reached a rather public landing and both collapsed into tears behind me. Other museum patrons were passing them and patting them and murmuring comforting words.

This part of the manipulation and sympathy-getting should have been obvious to me....but it wasn't!! I plowed right in there and "supported" my niece all the way. A very very nice man came and talked to us over a cup of coffee for quite a while about this. He was the head of museum security. He went and interviewed the guard, who apologized (or would he have lost his job?) and made excuses. All the people in charge were very very nice to us, and gave Little Diva some candy. The security had really enjoyed the chat with my niece -- It's a-maz-ing -- she just mesmerizes men!

What a power trip Big Diva pulled there!! I really saw it the way she presented herself. Now nearly a year later and many many attention-seeking scenes witnessed since, I recognize that this time I'd been a part of it.

Luckily nothing happened to that guard's job. At least not that day. I thought about it alot afterwards. My niece was filling in details. I wondered about "embellishment". I wondered WHY she pissed off that guard that much. While he handled it badly, I think he was seeing something that I had not until then.

The only way I can deal with my niece these days is by keeping our visits less frequent and lengthy, more on my terms so that I do not get "caught" having to wait for her to get ready, or to babysit, or run errands for her, or have to make dinner for her whole family, etc. I'm still working on it -- the not-getting-used part. I try not to hurt feelings but always be aware.

I've learned more about my own self-esteem issues and codep character. And some days, I actually think I might be having some good influence on her (but I doubt it).

I'm truly disappointed, because I was looking forward to having them here. But I do not gain much from this relationship, and it often drains me, so I need to "help" as I can, from a distance.

Loving acceptance?!? Whatever. It has truly been a lesson.

January 29, 2007
6:31 pm
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Loralei
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Brynnie,

Wow, that is some story! I remember reading about your Christmas saga with the Diva niece. If I were in your shoes, I'd be a lot less available for her. I'm glad that you are looking at your codependency where she is concerned. Those attention seekers sure know how to snow everybody else!

January 29, 2007
6:35 pm
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Loralei
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Cyndra, glad you liked the site. It always helps to become more aware of the patterns of behavior of these types. I was just so surprised that it fell under the bullying category. I guess it's indirect bullying.

January 29, 2007
7:39 pm
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Thank you, Loralei, for remembering.

My niece's behavior has become more apparent after a year and my family is more aware of what they say around her and none of us is as likely to get caught anymore by it.

I guess I'd have no problem distancing from her, but for their children.

I read quite a lot on the bullying site. It was so disturbing to me how much she fits all the descriptions, especially the womanbully tactics. I am hoping we can offer some recognizably better and more mature models for the children. They are young and we do love them. We see how much they need some positives.

It was interesting when I talked to her recently. She was describing how much she'd argued with her husband about needing to spend money for the boys' sports (he will not support this as it is horribly expensive and so she asked her parents to pay for it, but out-of-town events require hotel and meals. He "won". They didn't get to go!) I listened to the "victim" portrait she painted, did not criticize, and said I was sorry it was such a problem between them. When an opportunity presents itself, I want to somehow help her see how much the fighting and criticism and complaining is harming the kids' relationships with other people. They all have difficulty making and keeping friends.

Have you ever read anything about bullying being a whole family's trait, as in "us against the world"?

I liked reading what you and Lolli were saying about not expecting the person to change completely but accepting "some" changes. I'd like that for the children. I just have to be so careful not to offend my niece in the process.

January 30, 2007
12:08 pm
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Loralei,

I think this attention-seeking behavior has a lot to do with indirect bullying. I used to work with an attention seeker who demanded a lot of attention in negative and positive ways, and he would often throw these demeaning comments at people to keep them guessing I suppose. Often they were in the presence of others so responding to them took a lot of quick thinking and put one at risk of looking like a jerk if one responded thoughtlessly. But, his main tactics were sucking up to the supervisor and talking negatively about others, and sometimes she would believe him. I would call that bullying. His tactics almost cost me my job. I ended up getting a new job, but it sure felt like bullying.

I have a book on workplace bullying, and there are some realy sad stories in there about people who mentally deteriorated under the stress, wasted thousands of dollards on useless lawsuits, had to go on disability, lost their jobs, had their careers ruined. And, HR and EAP is usually clueless about what is going on. Why, I am not sure. I know if the case of the attention seeker at a former job, he threw out the legal card and probably intimidated administration with his tactics. He continues to work there, he continues to make disparaging comments to a friend of mine, he is not liked by the vendors, has an awful reputation, but everyone is afraid to say anything. Thank goodness I've been gone from there for years.

In my situation with the class mentioned about, now that I have withdrawn involvement, this negative energy has left me, I feel so good going to school now. This guy would talk to me if I talked to him, but I always sensed this undercurrent that was hard to describe. It felt very competitive and negative and sugary sweet. But, my feelings, my gut were speaking loudly and saying stay away, this is not right.

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