Drama costs us time, money and perhaps most importantly, emotional energy.
If drama is bad, why do all companies have it? Well, why is TMZ awesome? Why are the Kardashians “billionaires?” You get hooked on the energy, the thrill, the high.
What does drama look like in the office?
Gossip is when 2 or more teammates are discussing an issue and all of the key stakeholders aren’t there. Complaining that Timmy doesn’t dress professionally, or Larry’s performance is waning to a teammate other than Timmy or Larry, is gossip.
Cliques, silos or even the positive sounding, “team,” can cause drama. It’s the same few folks that have happy hour or get coffee together and never bother to ask anyone to join them (maybe because they’re gossiping?). It’s that cool table in the cafeteria that I was never allowed to join.
Stories aren’t true. Stories are what we make facts mean. “Timmy is lazy… entitled… always late.” Telling yourself those stories about your teammates (or worse, yourself) causes drama.
How do we cure office drama? It’s actually pretty easy.
Accept responsibility. It takes 2 to gossip. If someone invites you to join gossip, or starts to say, “can you believe Timmy said…” STOP them! Tell them “we don’t gossip here.” If you listen to the gossip, you’re as responsible as the person speaking.
Invite other people to participate. Easy. Done. Period. Who has ever been sincerely invited to lunch and been insulted? Not me. Especially if you’re buying. People crave inclusion.
Assume positive intent. Instead of making up a story about why Timmy is entitled or lazy, be open and curious. Talk to Timmy. Ask him if everything is ok. Tell him, "you've noticed that he's late a lot and you wanted to check in with him."
Drama grows in organizations that ignore it. The best teams recognize drama and its causes and purposely and proactively work to eliminate it. It’s that simple.