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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The Queen Bee in Her Native Habitat

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on September 22, 2010
Tags: , , , , ,

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionThe offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce on “Mad Men” shouldn’t be taken as an example of a functional, realistic workplace. Yet a recent episode stuck in my head because a character displayed all the classic traits of a Queen Bee.
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The Queen Bee is one of the most dangerous office types because not only is she smart, but she’s also ferocious–and other women are often the target of her wrath. If you’re a “Mad Men” fan, you know I’m talking about office manager Joan Holloway.

If you don’t watch the show, a quick plot summary for the Queen Bee episode in question: An male employee made numerous comments and left a lewd picture on Joan’s wall when she told him to stop shaking the vending machine. Another employee, Peggy, is appalled and gets permission to fire the employee, which she does. Instead of bonding over this as two women in a male-dominated workplace, Joan rips into Peggy for not minding her own business and letting Joan handle it her way.

“Queen Bees” still exist in the wilds of the Hamster World today. It’s more likely that they earned their position through talent rather than sexuality, but they still defend their turf from upstarts. Even if other women try to make friends with the Queen Bee, she’ll prefer the company of the men in the office.

Just because there’s other women in the office doesn’t mean you have to be friends with them. The sisterhood only goes so far. But a Queen Bee is special. Instead of tolerating you, she will do her best to get you out of the picture.

Tips on how to avoid Queen Bee stings after the jump! We didn’t want to court copyright drama, but we found an image of Christina Hendricks out of character from Wikimedia Commons, by watchwithkristin, under a Creative Commons license.
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