Post Academic

Stifling Workplace Drama: During the Drama

PhotobucketThis week, I’m covering how to put a stop to workplace theatrics. It’s okay to be dramatical on reality television, but it is never okay in the workplace because it hampers everyone else’s ability to get things done.

Do not get emotional. Post Academic has addressed this before in sections on why you shouldn’t cry and why you shouldn’t get angry if something goes wrong at the office. Emotional reactions are perceived as a sign of weakness. Whatever your dispute is, chances are that an outside force will be called in to mediate, and the outside force will probably rely on reason to make a decision since he or she hasn’t been marinating in a brew of tears and rage. (I can personally vouch that the few times I’ve gotten emotional in the workplace, I paid for it and lost the battle. Do not do this.)

Handle personal insults outside the meeting. If someone insults you or goes too far during a meeting, do not engage. Change the subject if you have to. After the meeting, talk to the individual privately. Usually, when someone hurls an insult during a meeting, he or she wants to display power. Reacting to such a move confirms their power. You don’t have to sit back and take it, but you need to retaliate elsewhere to make clear that such behavior won’t work.

Image of French actor Benoît-Constant Coquelin from 1898 Vanity Fair. From Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Don’t pile on. If you’re not involved in the drama, you might be tempted to join in. Bad idea. The dramatical individuals may be ridiculous, but it doesn’t matter. A meeting is not a pro-wrestling match. Even if it looks as if the majority of your colleagues agree that the person is an idiot, you don’t want to make an enemy for life. If you must get involved, try to be a referee. Change the subject or ask all parties involved to stop shouting.

Focus on listening rather than critiquing. If a person goes all dramatical on you, they might not want anything specific at all. Depending on the work situation, people might think they are being ignored or silenced. In some cases, they may be right. Whether they are or not, all they want is to be heard. Let them get it out, and reserve your judgment for the post-drama debriefing, which will be discussed in the next segment.

2 Responses to 'Stifling Workplace Drama: During the Drama'

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  1. Great tips! The kind I should totally follow, but, ahem, I’ve also found that sometimes it’s hard not to be fiery, to my own detriment. So I’ve found it works best to sublimate my anger into the ‘deep freeze’, an expressionless expression ending in a perfectly-controlled eyebrow raise.

  2. I agree! But a “deep freeze” is surprisingly effective, if not emotionally satisfying. It freaks people out, and while they are confused, you can swoop in and argue for what you want. Or you can at least leave a mark with that eyebrow raise. The eyebrow raise is something I’ve been working on for years!

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