How to stay drama-free
by Michele Majul-Ibarra
When we hear the word drama, what sorts of things typically come to mind? You may relate it to a favourite TV drama series on Netflix or perhaps you may think of someone who has been dubbed as a drama queen in high school. We associate the word drama to many aspects of our lives whether we relate it to a story, a person or a place.
The type of drama I have in mind is one that relates to the workplace. Unfortunately, it is one of those places where some people spend a lot of time talking trash about someone, or creating cliques of their own and gossiping about their co-workers.
While most of us have always looked forward to completing college or university to become professionals, there are a few who just can’t seem to get away from petty high school behaviour. I am sure, as you recall from your high school days, drama never really benefited anyone. As professionals, it is very important to be free from drama. Here are a few ways to keep yourself and others away from workplace drama.
Stop paying attention to what people think
According to Psychology Today, when people make a judgement about someone, their critiques are rarely about that person. “In fact, it’s almost always about them, their [own] issues, their needs, and their desire to control you and/or a situation,” according to Dr. Abigail Brenner. Instead of taking things personally and internalizing what others think, it is important to acknowledge the things that trigger our emotions and learn to manage them.
Time and place matter for venting
We all have our frustrations at work and most of the time we want to vent about the things or behaviours that bother us at work. It is healthy to vent, but if the information gets in the wrong hands our venting could easily turn into drama. Why? Because if the person we are venting about learns that you are talking about them to someone, the intent no longer matters. That person could interpret your venting to someone as bad mouthing them or damaging their reputation. Even if you explain to them that you were only venting, do you actually think that person will understand? If you must vent, consider talking to an EAP Counsellor or talk to a neutral person outside of work.
Steer clear of gossip
The workplace is a perfect breeding ground for gossip. Lots of people like to chat during lunch, during break or even during work hours, and there is always that one person who always seems to know the scoop about everything. First of all, if you are getting second-hand information, how can you be sure the information is accurate and true? Second, is the person actually considered to be credible if all he or she does is share stories about what’s going on at work? If there is a juicy story spreading around work, let it stop with you by not passing it on any further. Be responsible to act with integrity. Another technique, too, is to let the gossiper finish, and don’t engage him or her by saying anything back. This way they will quickly learn that you are not interested in gossiping. Also, you are no different from those they have gossiped about. Do you actually think that just because they’re sharing information with you about others that they will actually not gossip about you? Something to think about, for sure.
At the end of the day, we are no longer 16 years old. The drama that your 16-year-old self used to experience or do must remain in the past. Mature, professional adults should not be caught doing things that reflect high school behaviour. After all, the workplace is unlike a high school hallway.
This article is intended for information purposes only and not to be considered as professional advice.
Michele Majul-Ibarra, IPMA-ACP is an Advanced Certified HR Professional with the International Personnel Management Association. She graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and a Certificate in Human Resource Management. She also holds the C.I.M. professional designation (Certified in Management). E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.