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Six Strategies For Avoiding Office Drama

Focus on being a problem solver, not a pot-stirrer.

Six Strategies For Avoiding Office Drama
[Photo: Flickr user Gaby Av]

In any workplace there’s going to be some degree of drama. For some, this plays out in the form of office cliques and cattiness. For others, tensions can arise against one particular person or decision made by the higher-ups, creating a sense of mutiny.

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No matter what version of drama comes into your workplace, it’s best to avoid it. Not only because you won’t want to be viewed by others–as in, your boss–as part of it, but also because being steeped in drama always clouds what’s really important: your career goals.

Here’s how to rise above the drama–and shine brighter in the process.

1. Live the mantra “attitude is everything”

We all have to go to work. So, it’s your choice whether you get sucked in to complaining with your co-workers, or if you decide to walk to your desk with a sense of purpose and a passion for meeting your personal goals. Of course, you’ll have bad days and feel unmotivated from time to time, but having the right attitude helps you stay immune against any potential drama around you.

2. Treat all coworkers equally

If your workplace has a so-called “cool” clique, you may feel like it’s high school all over again–but you also may want to be part of this in-crowd at the same time. Rather than give in to a need to feel accepted into certain group, treat everyone in your office–from the front desk assistant, to the janitor, the tech support person, to the boss’s boss–with the same level of respect and consideration. Not only is it the right thing to do on a human level, but it’s key for maintaining a positive workplace reputation, too.

3. Save the snarking for happy hour

No mater how laidback your workplace is, your office water cooler is not your watering hole. Resist the urge to complain or badmouth anything work-related when you’re indeed at work. You never know who’s listening, first of all, but you also may not know the true intentions of those with whom you’re snarking. And the last thing you want is for your criticisms to get back to your boss or other higher-ups. If you have to vent, go out for happy hour with some colleagues and talk about the issues when you’re not on company time.

4. Avoid gossiping online

It should go without saying, but never complain about your job, boss, a colleague, or anything work-related while you’re using company property–i.e. your work laptop or work phone. For that matter, don’t Gchat or text complaints while you’re on company Wi-Fi either. You’d be surprised by how easy it is for your company to see exactly what you’re typing–not to mention how easy it is for human error to occur in these situations. You may think you’re chatting a complaint to your friend, but you may accidentally send the message to someone important at work. It’s just not worth the risk.

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5. Focus on being a problem solver–not a pot-stirrer.

Look for opportunities for co-operation rather than commiseration. Yes, focusing on the positive might feel a little goody-two-shoes. And, sure, complaining as a group can sometimes feel like a bonding experience among your coworkers. But once the other members of your group–especially the whiners–start feeling the benefits of your constructive ideas, they’ll likely get on board with fixing the issues at hand rather than lamenting over them. And you will be the star team player.

6. Remember who signs your paychecks.

At the end of the day, your boss is the one who signs your paychecks. So, if you’re in a situation where everyone else is complaining about him or her, consider following the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” rule. Blowing off steam at the boss’s expense won’t do anything constructive for your career or your at-work mentality.

This article was originally appeared on Levo League and is reprinted with permission.

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