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  • Writer's pictureJenn Donahue

3 Ways To Create a Drama-Free Zone in the Workplace

What does it look like to have a no-drama workplace environment? 

Creating a no-drama work environment leads to more success for your teams and leaders. Having a place to share, show up as yourself, and take initiative without the fear of conflict is a place where others can succeed.

Knowing how to address drama as a leader is a skill I have worked hard to refine throughout my career and it’s helped to combat some serious workplace messes. I approach each situation with the same principles whether I am with my team or speaking to an audience. It starts with thoughtful planning, then clear communication, and finally, addressing the situation and leading with empathy. 

Leading your workplace through challenges is a part of being a great leader. 

Here are 3 ways to lead your organization into a drama-free zone. 

1.Thoughtful Planning 

Whether I am leading a team or speaking in front of an audience, thoughtful planning is the first step I take to ensure a successful mission.

When leading a team, it’s important to get to know your people so that you can organize and strategize for success. Does your team know how to own their role? Do they have what they need for a positive outcome? Are they being provided the right tools and resources so that they can do their job well?

When you put intentional thought into the different roles and the people filling those roles, it allows for a smoother day-to-day environment. People want to feel capable and do a good job. It’s up to you as a leader to make sure you’ve thought out the plan from start to finish and prepare for any obstacles that might arise.

When it comes to speaking in front of an audience, the same method applies. There are a lot of “green M&Ms only please” types of speakers out there. They have a lot of requests, preferences, and specific needs they need to meet to get up on stage. 

For me, my job is to be there for the audience. If I am there for the audience and not there for myself, it’s a lot less drama. It’s also about being the best I can be for the event planners. If I can be helpful to them (because I know they are handling so much), I know it goes a long way. For example, I like to think ahead and let them know what I need plenty of time in advance. And I will just write out what I need so that they can respond when they have the time. If they can’t accommodate what I need, I simply move on. 

There are very few professional circumstances that call for drama. (Maybe an exception is when there is a true crisis, but even then, it’s important to stay calm).

Once you’ve thought through the mission ahead, you can then communicate clearly. 

2. Clear Communication 

Drama is often a result of miscommunication. In the workplace, technology can cause a lot of miscommunication. Emails, messaging, and even emojis can come across differently than someone might have intended. Sometimes the tone of voice gets misconstrued or simple text can be taken way out of context. 

If you feel you have been slighted in some way, the rule of thumb is to wait twenty-four hours before delivering a response. Stay calm, try to give the person the benefit of the doubt, and sleep on it! Oftentimes, drama is created out of reaction. If you choose not to react, you can mitigate the circumstances substantially. When you are no longer upset, respond intentionally. And in person if possible. 

Sometimes (especially in a gossipy work environment) things can spiral out of control. If this happens, it’s important to get to the root of the problem. What was said? What was the actual intent? When you uncover the truth, you can then put an end to the drama. 

When it comes to communication with event planners before a speaking event, I try to be as clear and simple as possible. They are dealing with so much, so I do my best to positively contribute to their workload. If I am sending sporadic emails with one-off requests that are out of context and don’t make sense, then I am not setting them or myself up for success. I make it my job to support the event planners as much as I can and be a no-drama speaker. 

3. Leading with Empathy 

With thoughtful planning and clear communication, drama can still happen in the workplace. It happens in the military all the time. I can recall many times someone shared some drama that happened and the entire squad knew about it within hours.  Knowing when to step in as a leader and encourage empathy is a great way to find conflict resolution. 

Leading with empathy is one of my strengths and it took many years, a lot of experience, and plenty of practice to develop. When it comes to putting an end to drama, I’ve found empathy is a really helpful skill to have. It starts with active listening. You can understand the concerns and perspectives of all parties involved in the drama when you listen. Part of leading with empathy is also responding kindly rather than reactively. Acknowledge the emotions involved and show understanding towards the feelings of those affected.

When establishing open communication like this, it encourages open channels where employees feel safe to express their concerns and grievances, which can help address issues before they escalate into drama.

When it comes to speaking in front of large audiences, I use this same skill. I like to lean into the uniqueness of my audience and understand who they are, why they are sitting in front of me, and how I can best serve them in the few hours I have with them. When I use empathy, there is little space left for drama. 

Leading Drama-Free to Succeed 

A drama-free environment gives more opportunities for success. A drama-free workplace looks like:

  • Open communication between leaders and teams

  • People feel safe to share thoughts and ideas as well as grievances and challenges

  • Individuals feel included and like they belong

  • Trust is built between peers and leaders

  • People are friendly, welcoming, and positive

Leaders, do your team members feel comfortable coming to you with mistakes or miscommunications? Are questions encouraged within the team? Do team members collaborate effectively? Is there open communication among team members?

If not, I’m challenging you to create change in your organization. 

If you’d like me to come speak to your organization on the importance of creating a drama-free environment, let’s get a date on the calendar!


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