I work in an office with mostly women and the drama is driving me crazy. Many of them read your column, so I wish you would explain what behavior is appropriate at work and how to stop overreacting, getting offended and causing problems. Also, because I don’t participate in it, I am often the one who is talked about behind my back. If I bring it up and complain, I’d be contributing to the drama so I just silently take it. How should I handle that?
Inappropriate workplace drama occurs everywhere you find human beings … and unfortunately (especially) women. I wish I could say this wasn’t true, but women do have a tendency to create more drama at work than men do.
I believe this happens because most women battle more internal fear (of loss and failure) than men do. Trust me, women have more fear-based thoughts than men. They tend to think too much, and these fears create the tendency for gossip, back-biting, being offended, casting others as the bad guy, being passive aggressive, complaining and blowing things out of proportion.
Let me explain how this happens in your head.
When you are battling a fear of loss, you can become controlling, bossy or overly protective of your territory. When you are battling a fear of failure (the fear of not being good enough) you tend to subconsciously focus on the bad (or perceived bad) in everything and everyone around you to take the focus off you. You may not consciously realize you are doing this. You may subconsciously cast others as the bad guy to make you feel like the good guy and you may get offended way too easy.
When you are afraid you aren’t enough (on any level), you have an easy-to-trigger “sore spot” around being insulted or thought less of. You are then subconsciously on the lookout for any word, look or behavior that could be interpreted as disapproval or an insult. You will also feel the need to talk about these offenses to others to get reassurance and validation. This is a big problem at work because this behavior will hold you back in your career.
Here are eight common workplace behaviors that will hold you back or get you passed over for promotions. (Notice that most of them are fear problems.) You may want to check yourself for bad behavior.
If you have to deal with people who are behaving badly at work, here are a couple suggestions.
You can handle this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "CHOOSING CLARITY: The Path to Fearlessness." She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.