8 Ways to Dodge Workplace Drama and Make the Office Healthy Again

Workplace drama and politics can be a real chore, a draining part of the routine. Socially toxic work environments are one of the reasons why people opt to work remotely or enter the Virtual Assistant field. But even then the virtual workforce isn’t immune from animosities and issues. These can be quite costly, according to CPP’s Global  Human Capital Report on “Workplace  Conflict and  How Businesses  Can Harness It to  Thrive:”
  • In 2008, employees in the US spent 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict among peers and managers. 
  • This adds up to 385 million working days lost and $250 billion in paid hours wasted on unnecessary conflict.
Ouch! So this shows that avoiding drama is not only wise and healthy on a personal level, in the big picture it’s also best for business.  Dealing with people in the same office or Virtual Assistants overseas? Are you yourself a Virtual Assistant? Whether you’re the boss or part of the rank and file, here are a few practices that can help avoid workplace drama and conflicts while keeping work dynamics healthy:   

Give People the Benefit of the Doubt

Don’t assume the worst intent in team members, subordinates or superiors. Don’t hold these against them as slights or as indications of their competence or lack of thereof. Maybe mistakes were made because someone was having a rough day. Most likely, they’re more than willing to correct any errors on their part and are open to learn and improve themselves. Even if you don’t openly snap at them, stewing on negative thought processes regarding others is unproductive and can lead to similarly unproductive behaviors.   

Venting Doesn’t Resolve Anything

Going on and on about problems just ramps up negativity and even stifles self-reflection. Keep discussions grounded in reality and focused on constructive solutions. Nursing grievances will make matters worse.   

Ground Discussions on Real Data

The problem with venting and stewing on problems is that people lose objectivity and get taken away, creating narratives of grievances. Whether their case is justified or not, it becomes exacerbated and people lose track of the real causes and thus have a harder time figuring out practical solutions. So when handling these, focus on asking good questions and stick to hard facts. This way, you can take action in ways that are measurable and effective.  

Use Empathy, Not Sympathy

With sympathy, you’re not only understanding what someone’s feeling, you will also be gripped by it. Their sentiments will take hold of you. You’ll lose objectivity and effectiveness. With empathy, you can understand where they are coming from but nonetheless compartmentalize in a way that will retain objectivity. This way, you are still aligned with reality and can steer people towards self-reflection and accountability.   

Actionable Plans and Preparations

The best way to get people out of a rut and stop them from stewing over problems ineffectively is to concretely prepare for the challenges and problems in question. Institute programs to boost readiness. Train and prepare them for contingencies, whether these are problems with the work itself or interpersonal matters. Workshops, coaching and counseling can equip them with the tools needed to act upon their problems. With this, they’ll be empowered with agency.   

Make Changes More Palatable

Uncertainty breeds doubt and fear. Implementing changes and new processes will be met by resistance, most of the time. But if people are better trained and confident in themselves, not only will they handle present matters with ease, they won’t balk when trying out something new. In fact, they’ll be excited for the possibilities offered by the changes.  

Business Isn’t Personal

At the end of the day, the ones calling the shots are the customers, the market, competition and the processes of feedback and innovation. When push comes to shove, both employees and bosses alike will have to follow these demands. Personal preferences have to take a step back as the organization pursues what’s needed for success.   

Check Your Ego

As the warrior and philosopher Ice Cube once said, “check yourself before you wreck yourself.” You want to engage with others and help with their problems in an objective, impartial and constructive way. But if you haven’t checked your ego, you might be lecturing them on what you think is the right thing to do while falling for an ego trap yourself. You might be inadvertently contributing to the problem and adding to the drama. So center yourself, assess if you are truly being reasonable or if your biases and preconceptions have taken ahold of you. Stay humble and practice self-reflection.      

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