Avoid drama in the workplace this year
Avoid drama in the workplace
I have said repeatedly that drama belongs on the stage. Drama in the workplace leads to dysfunction. Dysfunction leads to any number of negative workplace issues. Toxic culture, poor decision-making, gossip, favouritism and process gaps to name a few. If you have a problem at work, try solving it, not creating a circus. I talk here and here about problems at work in my tricky workplace dilemmas series. So what do you do when you work with, or work for, someone who creates drama in the workplace?
Somewhere in my chequered past I was lucky enough to work for a Manager who made a very clear decision that she did not do drama in the workplace. She was deliberate about it. It certainly did not eradicate all drama from the workplace, but it did go a long way to create a calm, solution-focused culture. In the face of drama (and due to the nature of the workplace there was a bit) she consciously became calmer. She focused on the issue and routinely stripped away the surrounding hysterics. It had remarkable, and usually instantaneous results.
Chances are you will work with someone who loves a spot of drama in the workplace. Hopefully it is not the person you work for, but even if it is, there are some things you can do to disarm it.
Disarming the Drama in the Workplace
Just because some people are fuelled by drama does not mean you have to attend the performance.
How to avoid the drama
Recognise that most drama is not about you
Believe it or not, when a colleague is being dramatic, it is rarely about anything other than themselves. Maybe they are seeking attention or they are looking to create a spot of bother for someone. Either way, its not about you. Thinking that drama is about anyone other than the person creating it is the first step to getting involved in it. While it always feels good to be included, you are being treated as an audience member, not a participant. Take a step back, its not about you.
Giving drama oxygen only fuels the flames
Want a dramatic issue to die quickly? Can I suggest not flaming the fire? Try allowing the drama to go past you, or better still, be active in shutting it down. I can still recall in a previous workplace a very senior member of staff was in the process of being terminated. The rumour mill went into meltdown and there was much speculation as to the cause of the termination. The affected staff member’s Executive Assistant would very calmly and directly ask people what interest it was of theirs as to why the boss had left, and asked how it would assist their working day. Shut it down pretty effectively.
Know that drama is not confined to the ladies
Tired and sexist cliches of how females operate in the workplace will tell you that its the women running around creating a stage of the office. This, friends is utter rot. Women and men are each more than capable of creating drama in their workspace. It is even possible that because of tired stereotypes we are not as critical or as observant of men creating drama at work as compared with women. Either way, watch out for the drama creator, they come in all manner of cloaks.
Don’t buy in
I am a sucker for sales. I love the marketing and the sale signs, the loud and bright ads, it drives me directly into the store for an immediate purchase. The same can be said with drama. Drama can be attractive. It appears interesting and may sucker you in, just like a sale sign. The trick is to recognise it for what it is; a trap. You don’t get anything out of going into the “drama store” except more drama. In most workplaces, dramatic staff are not rewarded (though it may appear that the squeaky wheel gets the attention), it is not a full-proof career strategy.
Do yourself a favour and avoid drama in the workplace. The muse talks here about some really practical ways to avoid workplace drama. Avoid colleagues who are looking for a audience to stage their workplace drama and put your energy into more positive pursuits.