Post Academic


Stifling Workplace Drama: After the Drama

PhotobucketIn the final installment of stopping workplace theatrics, I’ll cover the post-drama debriefing. Drama will always break out in the office, no matter how well everyone seems to get along. What counts is how you handle the situation and indicate how drama will be handled in the future.

Root out the true source of the drama. Sometimes, the two people shouting at each other or flaming each other through emails aren’t the most dramatical ones in your office. Imagine some creepy high school kid who lets two girls fight over him. One of your coworkers might have triggered a brawl and is letting it unfold so he can cut through and get what he wants. It’s a slick move because the shouting gets all the attention. You need to take a step back and figure out where the noise is coming from.

Do not get involved. Refer to the “don’t pile on” moment from the “During the Drama” post. If a colleague asks you why everyone started shouting all of a sudden and you must recount the incident, try not to add judgment. Likewise, you can listen to others recount the incident, but just smile and nod. It is always in your best interest to let drama dissipate, and then you can think rationally about the problem.

Caricature of Lionel Brough as Bottom in 1905 Vanity Fair. Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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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.
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The Importance of Stifling Workplace Drama

PhotobucketWorkplace drama seems inescapable. Hamsters suffer from it, as people get frustrated with each other after spending too much time together. Academics suffer from it, as people spend too much time apart and forget how to look at situations from another point of view. Either way, drama is the one thing that will destroy your work life and unravel all your projects. Why is drama so dangerous?

Drama is contagious. Once someone starts in with the drama, it will spread. If a person is allowed to be dramatical, then others who have kept their inner drama queens quiet might let them loose.

Drama obscures the purpose of the original meeting or project. A dramatical person will make the meeting all about his or her personality. They may suggest that if a project is carried out in a certain way, they will never recover. That may or may not be true. You won’t be able to tell with all the theatrics in the room.

Caricature of Sarah Bernhardt from 1879 Vanity Fair. From Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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There’s No Crying in the Classroom

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension… or in the office, for that matter.

A recent study by the University of Redlands showed that students tend to pick on young, untenured women. Unfortunately, this problem also happens in the workplace, and until society learns how to put bullies in check, this will keep happening. At some point in your life, especially if you are female, someone will feel the urge to talk shit and see if they can walk all over you. Here’s how you put a stop to it:

Do not cry. No matter what. You don’t want anyone thinking you’re emotional. Then no one will take you seriously. Also, a true bully wants to know just how far she can push you until you break.

If it gets worse in the classroom, tell the student to leave. Students aren’t forced to go to college. Someone who obviously can’t handle being in the classroom shouldn’t be there, and you can tell them to get out or drop the class. Also schedule a meeting with your teaching supervisor in case the student is such a bully that they try to whine about it to your bosses.

If it gets worse in the office, you leave the room. Take a time out. That’s what the bathroom is for. Also, I’ve worked in two offices that have “Quiet Rooms,” which have also been dubbed “Crying Rooms.” Take advantage of them. You’ll either realize that the incident wasn’t worth crying over, or you’ll come up with a new plan to conquer your bully or at least find a new job.

It’s a, uh, crying shame that women still get picked on and that showing emotion is a sign of weakness, but the simple truth is that you can gain the upper hand by reining in your feelings. How have you handled situations with workplace or classroom bullying? What advice would you have?

Image of Berlin-Niederschönhausen from Deutsche Fotothek by Abraham Pisarek, on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.