No More Drama in the Office!

Posted August 21, 2012 by Marcy Farrey in On the Ladder

Are you sick of drama and cattiness in the workplace? So are we! But how do we stop it from happening and stay productive?

Kelsey Meyer, the Senior Vice President of Digital Talent Agents, says her company has successfully avoided it. She shared four ways to downplay drama at work with ForbesWoman.  Managing drama needs to start with management, but if you’re not in a position to make that happen, there are ways you can help yourself, too.

One step in preventing drama is to call people out on their outlandish behavior and comments. If you’re fan of the television show New Girl, you might recognize one tactic Meyer suggests. She says her office created a jar in which people have to drop change every time they say something hurtful, inappropriate, or rude — just like the swear jar you might have had as a kid.  Here’s how Meyer’s office made it work:

Once the jar is full, we take it out for a happy hour. The jar allows us to not take ourselves too seriously. Is someone bragging about himself to the point of disgust? Call him on the jar. Is someone being passive-aggressive to another coworker? She better get her change out. We’ve been able to be very transparent with each other because of the jar, but if it’s a little too extreme for your organization, then think of another way to get everyone’s true feelings out in the open and let them feel that you have their backs. A little trust goes a long way.”

Often when one person at work is causing problems, no one says anything — even if everyone is thinking and feeling the same way about that person’s behavior. Sometimes we hold back out of fear, but if everyone feels as if they can speak out, then something can be done to correct the problem. If management won’t hear you out on an issue with a dramatic coworker, then the most important thing to remember is to not act out in return. Returning drama with drama just fuels the cycle. The best thing you can do is to remain calm while the other person acts out, and to address your issue with that person when you are calm and collected. Present the facts and not emotions — it will carry you a long way.

Another way to combat the drama is to foster friendship in the office.  Meyer suggests that every office have a “fun committee” that organizes regular office events:

The fun committee organizes unique events that encourage friendship. The best part about the fun committee is they normally plan things that happen during the workday, so they garner a high level of employee involvement. If your idea of a fun committee is planning a happy hour at a bar once every two months, you’re not trying hard enough. Plan different events that will allow everyone to feel included and you’ll see a higher level of coworker camaraderie, which helps to downplay drama.”

If you already don’t feel connected to your coworkers, then coming up for a reason why you can’t do an after hours event is pretty easy. But if you are all learning to interact and have some fun at work, you’re more likely to have a better attitude toward each other. Besides, if you have an already volatile situation between certain people in the office, why add alcohol on top of it?

When it comes to drama in the workplace, all hope is not lost. We don’t have to accept drama as inevitable. If you work with the right mix of people and are willing to watch out for dramatic influences, you can have a great work environment. The longer we spend doing nothing about drama or fueling it even further ourselves, the harder it will be to get the work environment we want and deserve. So don’t listen the office drama queen — or the drama queen within yourself. Make an effort to make your workplace more enjoyable.

Read the rest of Meyer’s tips here.


About the Author

Marcy Farrey

Marcy Farrey is a videographer, writer, and editor. In her previous life, she worked as a broadcast news reporter and producer in Lincoln, Nebraska and as a writer and producer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University. Learn more about Marcy on her website


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