Skip to main content

And the Award Goes to.... Dealing with Drama in the Workplace

Q: Dear Workplace Wonda, I love a good drama, but lately, the drama in my office has been straight from an episode of the Real Housewives of the Central Valley. Jealously, gossiping, and negativity has taken over my office. What can I do to stop all the backstabbing without playing a starring role?

Signed, And the Award Goes to…

A: Dear, And the Award Goes to…, in a drama, whether it be a book, movie, play, or reality TV show, there is typically a conflict or triggering incident that occurs between two or more characters that ends in a climatic finale, whether good or bad. For example, the reality show The Bachelor hypes every week that there will be "the most dramatic rose ceremony ever!" For the two of us who are fans of the show, it usually results in one or two attention-seeking models getting a rose who a) have a drinking problem, b) have posed for a "gentleman’s magazine", or c) are Cuckoo for Coco Puffs! The bachelors’ choices usually result in fits of jealousy and anger among the other contestants, which ignites additional drama- and even better ratings. Unfortunately, drama does not translate so profitably in the real world of work

To answer your question, I will have to generalize my response as I do not know your cast of characters or triggering incident that led to your office/department being nominated for best ensemble cast in a Made-for-Workplace drama. This is a category no one wants to win, trust me!

Drama in the workplace usually stems from people with differing personalities being required to work together in close proximity for up to 8 hours a day. Talk about a cesspool for drama! It’s not like if you out wit, out last, or out play your co-worker you will win $1 million and they will be voted out of your office/department forever! Instead, you are forced to "make it work." But, how do you make it work when gossip, rumors, negativity, cliques, incivility, and office politics take center stage? The following are some tips on how to be a survivor of workplace drama. 

Don’t Sign Up for the Show- The best way to survive workplace drama is to not get involved in the first place. Steer clear of those fighting for a role and don’t turn in an audition tape. Not only should you not be a cast member, you should not be in the audience either. If others try to pull you in, simply walk off the set.

Be the Voice of Reason- If you get a part in a drama that you did not audition for, you might be forced to play the voice of reason. Explain to those involved that you are not interested in participating and that they should not either. Inform them of the company policies in regard to behavior in the workplace and the consequences that it can cause.  

Sign a Petition to Get the Drama Canceled- If the drama is too much to ignore and those involved are not listening to your advice, you might have to bring it to the attention of the supervisor. I will warn you.  Supervisors hate dealing with these types of issues and usually consider them trivial and time-wasters. If not careful, the whole cast might be called to the boardroom where everyone will have to defend their role in the drama. Even if you don't say anything to your supervisor, trust me. there are undercover bosses watching.  

Beware.  Once typecast as a "troublemaker," "gossiper," or other drama-laced title, you might have a difficult time being cast in any other type of role in the future.  


Workplace "No Drama" Wonda


Popular posts from this blog

Dress Code Policy: Searching for Answers

Q: Dear Workplace Wonda, I am a new employee and reviewed our handbook very closely to make sure I am following all the rules and policies. I have noticed that even though the dress code policy is very clear, a lot of people in other departments and divisions do not follow the guidelines. For example, last week on Friday, I noticed several employees wearing tank tops and thong type sandals. I asked my supervisor if I could wear these comfy options and was told “No” because they violate the dress code policy. Is there really a dress code? Or does it come down to who you know? Signed, Searching for Answers Dear Searching for Answers, A: It’s obvious if employees are wearing tank tops and flip flops (or thong sandals) to work, even on casual Friday, the dress code policy has failed! That is, unless you work for Wild Water Adventure Park. This is a dilemma that many employers face each year around this time. As soon as there is an inkling of temperatures hitting the 80’s, clothes sta

Monday Morning Moment #ChooseHappy

  Coming up with a Motivation Monday this week was difficult as it was on Monday that my Father was laid to rest. Goodbyes are never easy. It seems like I’ve had to do a few of those the past few years. Saying goodbye is a part of life. As you get older, those goodbyes seem to happen more often—at least in the physical sense. I came across this quote by Rumi that says, “Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul, there is no separation.” Think about that quote for a moment. Separation is only physical. No one or nothing, including death, can take away what you hold dear in your heart and soul. We have a treasure chest of experiences and memories to cherish long after something ends. Unfortunately, sometimes in life bad things happen. And when bad things happen we want to know, why. “Why me?” Well, why not you? If you are spiritual, you may believe these things happen for a reason and that it is a part of a bigger plan. Scientist

Holding My Breath Until I Get Answers- Addressing Employee Hygiene

Q : Dear Workplace Wonda, there is an employee who visits my office a couple of times a week. Each time he comes in, he has this unpleasant smell that stinks up the entire office. The odor is so bad that employees spray Febreze or turn on their scented candles to cover the smell. Some employees even complain of headaches! How do I address such an uncomfortable subject?    Signed, Holding My Breath Until I Get Answers   A: Dear Holding My Breath Until I Get Answers, Wow, you really are in a stinky, I mean, sticky situation! On one hand, you have employees screaming, " foul." On the other hand, you have an employee who is seemingly senseless when it comes to his own PepĂ© Le Pee-ew! It kind of reminds me of one of my favorite SpongeBob SquarePants episodes titled, "Something Smells." In the episode, SpongeBob decides to make a sundae, but doesn't have any ice cream. Instead, he uses onions, ketchup, and peanuts. When he goes out t