Welcome to the real world, where you have to work your butt off to get money for your nights out and monthly bills. And since this is the real world, drama can’t help but lurk nearby.
“There is no generic ‘best’ way to deal with drama,” says Jommel Panganiban, who works as an executive director for a multinational IT firm and trained life coach. “For me, you deal with it according to the circumstances as well as your intended result. Meaning, how well you address it and what you do to alleviate it will largely depend on what’s at stake if the drama is not resolved. Also, it is best to note that how you deal with office drama will greatly depend on the culture of the team as well as the shared values of the organization.”
Panganiban shares his insights in seven usual scenes that might incite more headache and heartache in your office.
Sticky Scenario #1: World War III—Office Edition
Catfight! Sometimes this comes from office gossip, sometimes a misunderstanding blown out of proportion. Either way, Panganiban says that it is best to “not be part of this. Stay away from it if it does not involve you. If it does involve you, ask yourself: ‘What do I get from being right?’ or ‘Why do I need to win this argument?’ Remember, it always takes two to argue.”
Sticky Scenario #2: When E-mail = Hate Mail
There’s a long thread about the new service or a group message about the latest report. You reply, and sometimes colleagues can misconstrue the words you use. Panganiban shares, “When I personally receive a hostile e-mail, I have this practice of immediately drafting my response, with all the emotions in it, sans expletives, of course, then I save it the draft folder. I will reopen the draft when the emotions have washed away and then I edit before sending to ensure that what I convey is just a factual message. That way, I no longer stoke the e-mail word-war and just deal with facts.”
Sticky Scenario #3: Pesky Politicking
Some people feel that office politics is a game that is a crucial to their career. If you don’t feel the same way, then Panganiban says that the best thing to do is to avoid it. “Unless that colleague that’s going against you is your immediate supervisor, don’t give too much thought to it. If you don’t play the game, the rules won’t apply to you.” In other words, when your office mates are playing Allies vs. Nazis, be Switzerland!
Sticky Scenario #4: The Deadly Office Grapevine Strikes Again
There’s a rumor going around the office, but there is nothing you can do about it. Panganiban shares that if this is about you, “listen to it only for you to be aware of what is being said about you. People who listen to and believe gossip are not worth the time and effort to explain the truth to. But, if someone seeks to clarify the gossip with you, though, then a little nugget of truth would go a long way.” Who knows? You might learn some valuable insights about your character. If the gossip is about a co-worker, “Do not be part of the gossip chain by spreading it further. You help the person as well by being last to hear it. Lastly and most importantly, what you hear about people in the rumor mill does not sum up their whole being as an individual. As such, do not let gossip topics affect the way you view, work with, and relate to the person.”
Sticky Scenario #5: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil?
You start to notice that a colleague or a manager is performing not up to par. Panganiban advises, “call the person on it. For all you know, the person might just be unaware of the supposed fault in the act. That way, the person gains more awareness. If, however, they are aware of their actions and its consequences, calling them out means you and whoever is in charge can hold them responsible for all the results later on.”
Sticky Scenario #6: Romance and Other Matters
“In the workplace setting, I personally think that if and when it can be avoided, better to avoid having an office romance. But if both parties can guarantee not to let this involvement affect work output, I find that it can be tolerated,” Panganiban shares. However, there might be cases where both parties are not really that keen on an office romance and one of them may engage in inappropriate behavior. If this happens, Panganiban says, “report [it] to your supervisor. If it’s your supervisor or a person who has authority over you in the work place, you may have case versus the person: sexual harassment.”
Sticky Scenario #7: Coworker Cliques
Your teammates have gone out to lunch, and no one invited you. At first this might seem all right, however the more often this happens, the more you’ll feel left out. This might even dampen your boss’s assessment of you and think that you are not team player. Panganiban says, “Any unnecessary emotions harbored against anyone in the team will affect work in some way. What is much more tricky in this situation is how to gauge the effect in the ability to work and how you can remedy it.” Do a self-assessment. Are you making the effort to be polite and friendly with them? Do you make small talk? Do you join in when they do invite you? It’s hard to blame them for not making the effort to include you if you don’t make the effort to join them either.
Panganiban concludes with a reminder: “Office drama will happen regardless of how much you want to avoid them. It is best to work instead on having the right mindset to work through it if it happens. Some characteristic that might work would be respect for individual, openness in communication, clarity of expectations and compassion.”