What Drama Really Looks Like

We all probably know one person at work who always seems to be caught up in some sort of personal or office drama. You know who they are, and you know better than to get caught up in their latest turmoil de jour.

However, while we refuse to allow ourselves to get caught up in obvious drama, we tend to overlook subtle ways we can create drama of our own. I’ve listed four scenarios that I’ve noticed tend to stir up drama that, intentional or not, distracts from the main thing, creates discontent, and slows momentum.

The “Hey did you hear…” drama.

Gossip is the most obvious form of drama, and it can also be the most damaging. If you’re part of a conversation that heads down Drama Road, call it for what it is. “Hey guys, this sounds like drama…” If you’re a leader, don’t tolerate gossip among your team. You can’t build trust when you have gossip, and vice versa.

The “I got left behind” drama.

This drama sounds something like, “Why haven’t they called me? Why didn’t they include me? Nobody told me.” You can ask these rhetorical questions, or you can just jump in the mix (if you indeed should have been included), have someone bring you up to speed, and go from there. Stop acting like you were intentionally not invited to the party, and just focus on what you need to do to get the project done. Afterwards you can circle back and have a conversation with the project officer and figure out where the breakdown happened and how you can prevent it from occurring again.

Hierarchical drama.

An executive level leader isn’t happy about the way an entry-level worker handled a project, so they jump down three levels to directly address the problem to ensure it won’t happen again. Effective? Not necessarily. Doing so eliminates the entire point of the hierarchy, prevents the supervisor from leading and teaching his teammate, and quite possibly intimidates the entry level worker, who now fears hearing from the executive the next time she makes a mistake. Let your leaders lead, and if an employee has an issue that needs attention, coach and hold their own leader accountable for handling it.

Much Ado About Nothing drama.

You might think of the Office Drama Queen when you hear this one, but we’ve all been guilty. Honestly, few things at work are worth a hissy fit or the ugly cry. Don’t be so easily offended! Most of the time we just need to step back, take a deep breath, and figure out how we can reroute, remedy the situation, or just keep pressing forward.

What does drama look like at your work, and how do you avoid it?

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