I have no tolerance for drama. I try not to create it and try even harder to avoid others’ displays of it. There are situations in life we have to work through, however, no matter how hard we try to prevent them. Workplace drama is one of those.
Inherently, planners are leaders. We take charge, think on our feet, are confident and provide insightful, solid suggestions to problems of all shapes and sizes. That makes us wonderful assets to clients. The challenge is when you put a bunch of people with those attributes in a room together. As you know, chaos can ensue. No one wants to follow. Everyone wants his/her idea to be the one executed and to drive the process. We are inherently ambitious, so we’re all likely vying for the next promotion available.
If we weren’t all these things, we wouldn’t be good at our jobs. But being good at our jobs is irrelevant if we can’t get along with our teammates. You may be thinking that what you need to do is teach everyone else to follow you because you’re not the one with the problem. For now, let’s go with that premise. Even if the only idea truly worth considering is yours, take a breath and read on.
3 tips to consider
1) You need to listen to what’s being said. All too often we’re guilty of waiting for our turn to speak instead of truly hearing what’s being said. Your co-worker’s idea might or might not be brilliant, but it might have kernels of wisdom. Give it a chance before passing judgment.
2) Be willing to explore ideas with which you don’t agree. Sometimes talking an idea all the way through can lead to an unexpected place. You might have a “eureka” moment. Have you ever discovered a great shop or restaurant after you took a wrong turn? Keep that in mind, and explore conversations with the same frame of mind.
3) Good leaders make others feel valuable. Acknowledge their contributions. Don’t tear them down. It makes you look bad, erodes trust and creates tension.
3 defusing techniques
If the drama stems from someone else taking your ideas, try these solutions:
1) Copy other people on your emails. It makes it harder to lay claim to something that doesn’t belong to you if you have an audience.
2) Recap ideas in follow-up emails. For instance, “When we spoke yesterday, I suggested we do this. I wanted to follow up on pursuing that course of action.” Once again, copy others, even if it’s your boss’ boss.
3) Thank the person for finding value in your concept. Tell him/her that you look forward to teaming up. If you’re silent about the problem, you’re sending the message that what was done is OK and that you’re going to let the behavior continue.
It takes a tremendous amount of energy to be unhappy. What’s worse is that the tension escalates until something gives. Make sure that it’s not your job, reputation or career that collapses under that pressure.
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