The lights come on, the curtains go up, the actors take the stage, and the drama begins. No, this is not a theater production; it is the place where you work. My on the job experience has shown me that the workplace can hold more dramatic productions than a popular theater. They are breeding grounds for drama in that there is a large cast of characters who all bring different aspects of themselves and their lives into one relatively small environment. How could it not bring about occasional clashes of personality, differences of opinion, pettiness, and general annoyances? The solution to all the drama lies somewhere in the use of boundaries, personal integrity, and values.
If workplace drama is an issue in your life, I recommend you checking out the book, Stop Workplace Drama, by Marlene Chism. In the book she speaks about how drama can affect your personal and work life and gives helpful tools on how to overcome it. She writes that we all have stories that we tell, both to ourselves and others, and that in order to become drama free, we must begin to recognize and change our stories. The four components of these stories are as follows: exaggeration (making mountains out of molehills), repetition (recurrent themes), restriction (stories are restrictive not expansive), and attachment (who are you without your story?). We have all become so conditioned to think that our stories are who we are and are a normal part of our lives. Believing our stories leads us to believe we cannot change. Marlene goes on to state that, “drama is an obstacle to peace” and as we all know, there is little peace in our lives or in our workplace when drama becomes the prevailing theme.
Many of us know what it feels like to spend 8 or more hours in a workplace environment that is full of drama. It drains our energy which not only detracts from our job performance, but also our personal lives. It is important to recognize this phenomenon of workplace drama and learn strategies to minimize the impact that it has on you. I find the best place to start with this is to learn to identify the sources of drama and pledge not to become an active participant. You can walk away. When you take the stance of, “I’m not going to encourage this action by participating in it,” you can begin to break down the momentum of the drama. Let others know that you are not interested in being part of the drama. Speaking out can sometimes get others to realize what is happening and put a halt to it.
Another way to learn about how drama affects you is to pay attention to how you feel. Marlene Chism defines drama as “any obstacle to your peace and productivity”. If you are experiencing a feeling of discomfort, lack of peace, or inability to attend to your work, then you may want to evaluate your involvement in the workplace drama scene. Clarifying what you want for yourself and what it is important to you will help you to live your life more peacefully and in alignment with your values. It will also help you to see that you have a choice in whether or not you participate in the drama.
Take some time this week to evaluate your actions in the workplace. Are you adding to the drama or taking a stance against it? When you find yourself getting wrapped up in the drama, stop and ask yourself if this action is in alignment with your values. If the answer is no, then take the steps necessary to bring yourself back to a place of peace. Be the one to bring workplace drama into the light. Your co-workers may thank you for it in the long run. Change towards the positive is not always easy, but in the end, it will be worth it for you and the people with whom you work.
Yours in transformation,