Drama: What Do You Care?

A friend last week was getting upset about a colleague's drama.  She was quite angry about the colleague disrespecting the group’s norms.  I asked her “why do you care?” I wasn’t being flip, I was asking in earnest, “What makes you care so much about this?  How is it affecting you?” Was it because you needed something from her that you weren’t able to get? Was it because you were worried about her? Was it because it violated your sense of fairness?

When I get caught up in other people’s drama, I find it helpful to ask myself “why do I care?” Why am I getting upset about someone else’s reaction or behavior? What I’ve found is that sometimes it’s useful to get involved and sometimes it isn’t.  Here are some principles I’ve applied.

Was I directly complicit in this situation?  We cause some of our own drama, even when we didn’t mean to.  If the drama is between 2 people and I’m one of them, even if I don’t care, I have no choice but to be involved.  If you’re directly involved, you care by default.

If I wasn’t involved, why do I care?  Suppose two of your coworkers are having a tussle.  Do you need to get involved? Unless they want you to help them resolve the conflict as a mediator, you probably don’t need to care.  

What if it’s an individual coworker acting out?  If it’s affecting your work, you may need to get involved.  If it’s hurting your feelings directly, by all means, get involved.  But if it’s a coworker doing thing you don’t like, such as kissing your boss’ butt, just let it go.  Save your energy from thinking about their every violation and get on with your life.

How have you kept out of office drama?  Let us know!