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Dealing with Workplace Drama

It seems as if I hear at least one client in complaining about the drama that surrounds them in their work environment.  People complaining about their coworkers, their boss, the lack of supplies or resources, their customers or the food being served in the cafeteria. It seems as if workplace drama has increased;  now that economic conditions have evened out, so has the work environment.   What you see if what you get.  But, somehow, it seems that a majority of workers are unhappy with this new “way of working” and would prefer that things be the way they were (or the way they want).

As I’ve mentioned before, negativity can be infectious and spread like a virus.  But drama takes it to another level and occurs when bad behavior, gossip, or lack of team effort decreases work performance.  When these behaviors fracture the team spirit it can be detrimental for all involved.  I recently met a young woman who had recently been hired and has been on the job for a little over a month.  While she praised her supervisor and working conditions, she expressed her unhappiness with the job over the “drama” of her coworkers.  Constant complaining, back-biting, and passive-aggressive behaviors by others were wearing on her positive attitude and the extra effort she was making to be a contributing employee; she was feeling stressed by the attitudes and behaviors of her coworkers, to which her supervisors seemed either unaware of or how to handle.

So, how does one handle workplace drama?  Here are some steps you can take if you find yourself in this situation:

1. Don’t play the game – if you deal with a coworker who is always complaining, stop them in their tracks.  Most people who are upset by workplace circumstances want to feel validated so they will continue to vent  and try to get others to think their way.  If you let that person know, by using assertive communication, that you do not want to discuss negative issues it will not give them the playing ground to continue and they stop (or find someone else who will play with them).

2.  Focus on the positives of the job – as drama queens are focused on the negatives, commit to focusing on the positive aspects of your job; this will reinforce your good feelings and you won’t feel the need to go down that negative slope

3. If necessary, get help – there are some people who just need to play the power card and disrupt the work environment so if all your efforts have failed, and you find that you are being impacted either emotionally or in your job functions, then you need to go to management and gain their support.  This is not about tattling but more about gaining clarity on roles and functions and to keep your performance intact.

Losing employees over these types of situations occurs more frequently, mainly due to silent employees.  Bringing awareness to your supervisor not only benefits you but that employee as well.  Dealing with workplace drama, overall, is for leadership to handle but you can manage it for yourself as you don’t have to respond to this type of negativity.

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