Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland

Oh, the workplace drama!

February 08, 2022 Episode 56
Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland
Oh, the workplace drama!
Show Notes

Let’s talk drama. For most of us, we’ve experienced it, we tend to know what it is…and I hear about it quite frequently from managers I work with.  We’ll focus on some of the reasons why it happens, and most importantly what to do about it.

Starting with why.

I mean, seriously why does this happen in professional adult environments? 

  • I am attention seeking: I want people to notice me, I want recognition, attention, and you listening to me is reinforcing. I am important.
  • My status: I love knowing something that no one else knows and I get to tell others about it, this also reinforces my status, I am “in the know" which gives me power.
  • And chances are, I have low emotional intelligence (self awareness and/or self management); I don’t realize that what I am doing is affecting my own credibility negatively and/or I do and don’t “care.” I don’t consider the consequences of my behaviors on my integrity. There may be a gap in the integrity I think I have relative to what I truly have in the eyes of others.
  • There is a lack of expectations on appropriate behavior: for example, there is nothing in place that states clearly, “Don’t talk behind others’ back. It’s disrespectful and undermines trust."  No one is saying, “You are doing this. Stop.”
  • I am not held accountable to stop destructive and annoying behaviors: there are no consequences.

While it’s important to know why it occurs, we also have to be very clear what it means. Define it. For you. Because what you think and feel is “dramatic” is probably quite different from someone else. To some strong emotional reactions, unfiltered emotional responses may be more commonplace. 

If you are in the role to manage the environment, to make it more trusting, positive and supportive, then consider your standards and expectations. What are appropriate standards that are important to you? 

And from there, we manage it.  Starting with…
1.      Set expectations for constructive behaviors; establish the vision for what you want and expect in the workplace; create the vision; set the standards.
2.     Label the ineffective behavior clearly, make sure you are focusing on actions—and things that you can hear or see concretely, not abstractions or generalizations. 
For example:

  • Gossiping about others
  • Talking about someone’s intentions and judging them (particularly without knowing them); aka not assuming positive intentions
  • Talking negative about someone behind their back
  • Overexaggerating a problem (explain facts/data/specifics versus exaggerations)
  • Not differentiating between facts versus opinions
  • Using aggressive or passive aggressive language
  • Swearing, yelling, throwing, name calling
  • Sabotaging decisions/changes
  • Blaming, deflecting, whining,
  • Lying
  • Undermining someone else’s credibility

3.     Address the “drama” as it arises.
4.     Strengthen emotional intelligence across your team/organization; self-awareness and self-management is key to change.

If you’re in a leadership role, you are responsible for the environment. What you ignore, sadly you condone. So, clean up these behaviors that are energy draining, morale depleting and soul sucking.

And if you’re not in a leadership role, to create this change remember Cheryl Richardson’s stance:  "Just because some people are fueled by drama doesn't mean you have to attend the performance. "

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