When you’re dealing with workplace drama, you often don’t have a lot of energy left over to deal with actual work! Not only does it distract from what you need to do, it can make your job very uncomfortable. And, if you let yourself get caught up in it — even with the best of intentions — the drama can even come back to bite you.
But a lot of workplaces come jam-packed with drama. And conflict. And intrigue. Even small sub-plots that can turn out to be pretty interesting. And it’s tempting to find yourself listening and advising — and looking forward to more juicy details. Especially if your work isn’t all that exciting.
Some examples of workplace drama
Just so we’re all on the same page as to what workplace drama really is, here are a few examples:
- Your coworker, Marv, can’t stand Dina, another coworker. Marv makes sure everyone hears of each little thing Dina does wrong. And he asks people to support him by icing Dina out of meetings or even social events. Meanwhile, Dina is telling everyone some pretty awful things about Marv. And she needs your help to stop him from undermining her at every turn.
- Paul tells you that your boss is making a big mistake about accepting a project. He explains all the reasons this won’t be good for anyone. And he also tells you about other things the boss has been doing wrong. Whatever you do, he tells you, don’t let her know. We can figure this out together and help everyone.
But you know that your boss has one rule: “Don’t talk behind my back. Come to me.” Still, Paul continues trying to get you to side with him and do what’s “right”. And he starts enlisting other people, convincing them this way is best.
- One of your coworkers heard rumors that there might be big changes coming to the department because of budget cuts. Rumors start to fly about who might be cut or whether the department will even exist after the changes. It starts to affect how people feel about their jobs and even discourages them from coming up with new ideas.
But no one knows anything for sure. And your boss hasn’t said anything that even hints at this. Still, people are spending their time whispering about this and coming up with all kinds of scare stories. Just on rumor alone, they’re acting like Henny Penny thinking the sky will soon be falling — on them.
- SPECIAL CASE: Some bosses are all about the drama. And no matter how hard you try, they are going to create workplace drama around you and involving you. If that’s the case, figure out if this really is the place for you — for now and in the long run.
But here’s the real problem about dealing with workplace drama
⇒ It is NOT your job to solve all the problems!
And if you don’t have to be the person who solves everything, then you don’t need to spend much time on the drama. Not that you shouldn’t keep an ear open just to know what’s happening, but don’t get caught up in it!
All too often, people in the workplace find the drama more interesting than the work. And so they actually snoop out more info. And spend time talking about all the ifs and maybes. They tell themselves they just want to help.
But meanwhile, you’re not doing anything to help make things better for yourself. And you may find yourself out of the loop with people who are actually focused on doing the work and moving forward.
If you’re part of the rumor mill, you’re part of the problem
Where you put your energy is your choice. If rumors and workplace drama are what you feel drawn to, then you need to do some serious thinking about the job itself.
- Is there something you can do to make the job more interesting / exciting for you?
- Should you look for new skills or knowledge that can increase your chances of being in the success loop?
- Do you need to start looking elsewhere for a job that is not all about the drama? Unless, of course, you want a career in theater. 😉
This is NOT to say that there aren’t times when more information is a good thing. And there are times when conflict at work needs your attention.
But just double check to see if the energy is really about helping your boss and company. Or is it mostly just about the intrigue of workplace drama?
Some articles to help you decide