There’s no such thing as a drama-free workplace. There are office gossips who just have to share the latest rumors, exclusive cliques that exclude certain people for no apparent reason, opinionated types who let everyone know what’s wrong with the entire world (plus how to fix it), and complainers who are miserable 110% of the time and tell you so – constantly.
Even though you’re supposedly in a mature, professional environment, drama like this can cause tension and frustration and make you feel like you’re back in high school. Worse, it can make you act like you’re back in high school – but only if you let it.
These six rules can help you avoid the histrionics and keep your work life drama-free.
- Avoid the troublemakers: There’s probably someone in your office who tends to drum up confrontation and conflict. Maybe they stop by your desk to gripe about the manager or moan that the whole world is against them and that no one realizes how much harder they work than the rest of their team. Spending too much time with drama instigators can eventually wear you down and give you the impression that you ought to be as indignant as they are. They drain your energy and waste your time, so politely but firmly tell them you’d love to chat but have lots of work to do.
- Wait to vent untilafter work: No matter how laid–back your workplace is, it’s not a dorm room. Resist the urge to complain or disparage anything work-related when you’re actually in the office. Not only do you never know who’s listening, but you also may not know the true intentions of those with whom you’re sharing your annoyances. And the last thing you want is for your manger or other higher-ups to hear about your dissatisfaction. If you really need to vent, go out for a drink with coworkers and discuss your issue in a non-office environment.
- Don’t play juvenile games: It’s easy to find yourself doing things that are more worthy of high school than the office. Maybe you’re not getting along with a certain co-worker. It happens. But don’t fall into immature behavior such as walking past her without a glance or a greeting. By continuing to interact with her in a civil and appropriate manner, you’ll avoid unnecessary drama and your grownup attitude may even pave the way for peace talks between you.
- Don’t assume negative intent: If a member of your team sends you an email that says “I think we may need to change the approach to our presentation”, you can read it positively, as a respectful, helpful suggestion. But if you’re having a bad day, you might interpret the message negatively – as an attack on your work and even an assertion that the author thinks he or she is better than you. It’s apparent that the negative interpretation can lead a drama-filled day. To avoid that, try to always work under the assumption that your co-workers and managers are there to help and support you, and to challenge you to produce even better work.
- Keep your private life private: Unless you’re absolutely sure that you can trust a coworker, the rule is plain and simple: Don’t entrust anyone at work with personal information that could somehow be used for gossip. The way to know that you’re dealing with serial gossipers is this: If you hear them gossiping about others, you can be sure they’re gossiping about you as well. Don’t give them any ammunition!
- Keep your eyes on the prize: Never lose sight of why you’re at work in the first place: to do a job, earn a living, and (hopefully) be intellectually stimulated and creatively rewarded along the way. And remember, your boss is the one who signs your paychecks. So if you’re in a situation where everyone else is complaining about him or her, follow the “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” rule. By focusing on your tasks and behaving with dignity, you’ll be perceived as mature and trustworthy… not to mention you’ll be far likelier to end up with a promotion rather than a reprimand!