For five days a week, you spend half of your waking hours at work. You probably spend more time with your coworkers than you do with your actual real world pals and family. You won’t necessarily like all of them, but there’s no reason not to try and get along with them as well as possible.
Especially when you start a new job, it’s important that nobody associates you with drama - appearing bitchy or like a troublemaker can hamper your journey up the career ladder. There’ll always be genuine issues to resolve and there’ll always be those pesky little drama queens and kings stirring trouble on purpose, but these tips for managing conflict at work and avoiding office drama will help keep your office as drama free as possible - well, for you anyway!
1. Do! Not! Get! Involved!
First up, if the drama doesn’t directly involve you, leave it. Overhearing some office gossip in the middle of a looong, boring day about who’s-annoyed-who sure can brighten things up - but unless you want to seem like a bit of a stirrer, don’t be tempted to stick your oar in.
You never know who’s listening or whose loyalties lie where - do you really want to say to someone that Julie is a bit of a loudmouth in order to get a cheap laugh? No. Don’t risk it. If your colleagues or even your bosses always see you getting involved with drama, there’s every chance they’ll be less inclined to trust you - or worse, they may pass you over for a pay rise. It might seem a bit boring to spend your days avoiding drama, but you’ll be grateful when it comes to your boss picking favourites for a promotion. Not want you want if you're trying to climb the ladder.
Never say anything to anyone in confidence at work that you wouldn’t be happy with literally everyone knowing, and you’ll be all good.
2. Don’t gossip online
If you’re annoyed because Tom keeps nicking all your soy milk, it can be really easy to want to send your closest work pal a Gchat about it. There are so many reasons why this is an absolutely terrible idea. Someone could see it, for one. You could send it to the wrong person.
Even if you never accidentally show it to anyone, you don’t want a digital trail on your work email of all the times you’ve moaned about everyone else in the office. Don’t even be tempted to send Whatsapp or Facebook messages to your mates about colleagues - especially if you’re on office WiFi. It’s just not worth the risk.
Literally everything is traceable, and you want your record to look as squeaky clean as possible if you’re going after promotions. Never forget about that career ladder.
3. Solve any issues directly
Of course, you can’t always stay out of everything. You need to realise when something is a bit of a silly complaint, like someone eating stinky food at their desk, and when something actually needs to be brought up.
Learn to pick your battles, but when actual work issues do arise, like someone stealing your ideas and getting all the credit, the best thing to do is to actually sort them out. No bitching, no snidey passive aggressive comments, certainly no notes on the fridge.
Whether it’s directly related to your work or more about someone’s annoying desk habits, it’s always best sorting them out in person. You want to be known as someone calm, helpful, and drama free - not a troublemaker!
4. Take your time
Where possible, don’t react to anything instantly. For example, if somebody isn’t pulling their weight in a project, take a day or two to think about a) whether or not you actually need to bring it up, and b) how best to tackle the issue.
It’s not worth blowing up at someone instantly - you’ll never regret taking a day or so out to measure how you feel and think of an appropriate response, but you'll almost definitely regret marching over to Alan's desk, slamming down your clipboard, spraying spit as you shout at him for forgetting about your 2 o'clock meeting.
Before reacting, try consulting websites and friends outside of work to see how other people might deal with the situation. You might even find that after a few hours, it doesn’t even seem worth bringing up at all.
See also: Top tips to alleviate stress at work
5. Focus on your own behaviour
Most importantly, think about what would annoy you in an office situation and don’t do it. If you want to avoid office drama, you need to make sure that nobody has any drama to make with you. Don’t nick anyone’s food or mugs, do your job right, and never talk about anyone behind their backs. You need to be a model employee, else you don’t have a leg to stand on when other people wind you up. Plus, you don’t want to give anyone any excuse to drag you into their drama.
Try to be perfect, annoy no one, and hopefully you can keep those 40 hours a week drama free.
Stressed from office drama? See also: 7 amazing destinations for rest and relaxation