In-house Issues: The Prima Donna Pummel


There a special epithet reserved for artists and designers when they are being considered to be uncooperative or difficult. We all know it, we all hate it and we all run from it. The dreaded moniker is, of course, the prima donna.

While there are some designers who make a career out of celebrating and practicing the behaviors and attitudes that the label embodies, most in the community eschew the mindset. As a matter of fact, designers are, more often than their peers in other departments, egoless, objective and collaborative souls who play well with others and embrace problem solving.


Ironically, clients, managers and disgruntled co-workers often use the phrase as a club in an attempts to beat down designers perceived as difficult because they are asking challenging questions motivated by a solutions-based mindset that threatens others’ self designated authority. The truth is that it’s actually the slanderer who is a prima donna as witnessed in their attempt to discredit all those who would dare to challenge their opinions, declarations and beliefs.

When challenged with this corporate epithet, push back and ask what it is that you are doing that would make your accuser feel this way. After debunking his or her arguments, make sure to say that you don’t appreciate being called a prima donna, that you are a committed professional and ask the guilty party to refrain from using the term in the future.

2 thoughts on “In-house Issues: The Prima Donna Pummel

  1. Chuck Thurmon

    Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your mindset, in most professional settings you are seldom called a “prima donna” to your face. It is mostly spoken or inferred behind your back. So you will have to be much more proactive in dealing with a situation like the one mentioned than simply saying you don’t appreciate being called a prima donna. If it comes to that it’s probably way to late to accomplish anything.

  2. edr3

    Let’s face it, we’ve all encountered a Prima Donna, Diva or Princess in our careers. People who truly display this type of behavior undermine the goals and objectives set for most in-house departments, causing division within creative teams and alienating internal clients who are simply not experienced in working with creatives. Those smart, passionate and most importantly service minded creatives who question the norm with the goal of elevating a solution are not prima donnas. They are true professionals. It’s the ones who substitute the characteristic of “service” for “self” that are the true Prima Donna.