Remove Drama to Reduce Stress and Increase EnergyPosted: January 31, 2013
“Because we celebrating no more drama in our lives”
Mary J Blige, Family Affair
I have a confession. I love drama.
I suppose that isn’t surprising since I have a bachelor’s degree in drama and spent years in various stage productions. There is nothing quite like the thrill of developing a character and getting caught up in all the story lines as they unfold around you. It’s a great feeling to be a part of it and part of a group of people creating an imaginary world where problems arise and play out as directed.
It’s a great feeling unless it happens at work.
A friend of mine was talking about the dynamics in his office recently. He works in an office with a small staff, all in relatively close quarters. These people have worked together for years and know each other pretty well. Unfortunately from time to time there are some personality issues and these issues tend blossom into fireworks in relatively short periods of time. It even seems like some of the staff enjoys the drama and feeds the fire to keep people on edge and uncomfortable.
This isn’t an unusual situation. I have worked in both large and small offices and regardless of size there always seemed to be some sort of Tony Award worthy production going on. Some people call it office politics but it really comes down to drama. People who feel threatened tend to create situations to discredit the person who is threatening them. Then they try to enlist other members of the community. They create entire story lines that have no basis in reality. The result is an unhealthy working environment, higher levels of stress, and decreased productivity and job satisfaction.
Drama takes up a lot of time and energy. Not only in the workplace but in personal arena as well. Oftentimes people create their own drama in order to avoid dealing with issues that challenge them or make them uncomfortable. After all, if you are have a major problem demanding your attention or you allow someone else to upset you then you don’t really have the time or energy to focus on what is important to you. And the truth of the matter is that most drama is our own creation. It ebbs and flows, and in the long run it only matters if we allow it to.
At one point in my corporate career I was hired to fix a large dysfunctional accounting department. I was relatively new to management at that point, but it quickly became clear to me that there were so many factions in this group that is was like being in a corporate version of “Survivor”. No one was working with a common purpose in mind, nor was anyone working in conjunction with their core values. So much energy was wasted in the daily soap opera that was office life it was no wonder that the bills weren’t being paid on time. It wasn’t until they could identify what was important to them about their jobs (not just a paycheck) that they could focus on getting the job done and feeling good about it. It was not a popular management theory at the time, but it got results. And I got an efficient department that was actually an enjoyable place to work so it was a double win for me.
Drama is a great indication that someone is not connected to their purpose or working in conjunction with their own values. This holds true in both personal and professional life. Coach and author Brendon Burchard states that “people on a path of purpose don’t have time for drama.” I’ve been part of management teams who lived for drama and also part of teams that got things done. When I was part of Team Drama I was stressed and exhausted at the end of each day–and not from the work. It wasn’t until I was able to separate myself from the distractions and focus instead on what I found meaningful about my job that I felt I was successful in my job. Working with Team Value was exciting and exhilarating. Recognizing common goals and working in conjunction with complimentary core values made the projects easier to accomplish, the time fly by, and enough energy left at the end of the day to enjoy a personal life.
So I still love drama. Now I just love watching it, not being in it. These days I know when drama starts to creep back into my life I am losing sight of my chosen purpose. I would rather use my energy to create a life filled with things that matter to me than waste that energy caught up in someone else’s story or distracting myself from my own.
After all, this life is not a dress rehearsal. We don’t get a lot of do-overs, so we should do our best to make this performance count.
Do you let drama sap your energy or do you think the best place for drama is on the big or small screen, but not your living room? I’d love to know what you think.