Have you ever dreaded going to work because you don't want to deal with the drama going on at the office?
One day, riding to the office, I just knew there was going to be a big scene because my co-worker was going to publicly tell another colleague that she had enough of his slacking. Of course, the slacker was someone she had dated who had dumped her. Such drama!
Expert Marlene Chism says those who say, “I don’t do drama,” usually have the most drama. She also says drama manifests in different forms, and all of us experience our fair share of it. Ignoring, avoiding or denying drama only increases its power, she says.
Today, Marlene is my guest blogger. She is an international speaker, consultant, leadership coach and author of Stop Workplace Drama (Wiley 2011). She is currently working on her next book, From Drama to Enlightenment, Leadership Skills for Transforming Culture. Marlene, whose website is stopworkplacedrama.com, offers advice that all of us can use.
Improving Workplace Relationships: Three Responses to Dealing with Drama
There are many habits that can contribute to workplace drama.
One habit is taking the bait. It’s those times when you put your foot in your mouth, or you get drawn into an argument or communication exchange that you later regret, yet it happens again and again. It’s like you are a big carp swimming in a river and you see this juicy worm and you bite the hook. The other person is the fisherman who reels you in.
Even when you learn to identify the bait and swim right past that juicy worm, a few miles downstream you see a juicy piece of cheesecake and before you know it, you are being reeled in again.
It seems those who love to pull our triggers know just what bait to use. If you get wise to the worm, they figure cheesecake will work.
You mother knows how to bait the hook. When you call her, she answers with “Well hello stranger!” Her innuendo of calling you “stranger” is manipulation to make you feel guilty for not calling more often. Yep, she knows just how to reel you in. It works every time.
In your professional life it’s the employee who shows up in your office with yet, another major life catastrophe that keeps her from performing. You feel sorry, offer some leniency and your kindness backfires. She calls in sick the next day.
If you want to stop being reeled in, here are the steps for improving workplace relationships:
You must first recognize the trigger. If you can recognize the pattern, you can be prepared for the next time.
2. Offer No Reaction
Avoid the temptation to get the last word or to prove the other person wrong. Don’t resort to sarcasm or defensiveness. Simply take a breath and offer no response.
3. Listen and Acknowledge
To listen so the other person feels heard, acknowledge their emotion without agreeing with the content. Here are three examples:
*Wow. That must feel terrible.
*It sounds like you are frustrated with me. (Breathe)
*Sounds like you need some space.
In the workplace, it helps to have the compassion to listen but the wisdom to not get drawn into drama.