No work environment is free of “office drama”. There will always be that notorious employee who provides a daily dose of controversial behaviors to debate. There will always be new policies or executive decisions coming down the pipeline that cause an initial uproar. No matter where you work, there will always be “something to talk about”. Often over looked are the effects of engaging in dead end conversations while at work. Office drama can diminish your energy, your focus and even your reputation. Next time approached with, “did you hear about what so and so did?”, take a step back and assess if you really need to.
4 Things to Ask About Workday Conversations:
- Am I engaging in a conversation about someone that is not here to speak for themselves?
How would you feel if people shared thoughts about you, that may or may not be true, without giving you an opportunity to speak on your own behalf? Conversations like these are unfair and not taking into consideration the truth, which can only come from the source. Assumption is the lowest form of communication. I learned this in elementary school and it’s a lesson worth sharing, “If you wouldn’t say it in front of someone’s face, don’t say it behind their backs.”
- Am I mulling over hypothetical and “what if” scenarios?
In our work environments, there will always be changes. Changes at work, a place we depend on as a stream of income, can cause fear and anxiety. Know that while you may not be in control of what will inevitably happen, you are in control of your response. Be conscious of putting your fears and anxiety off on others. Don’t be a worry fairy, sprinkling worry-dust on everyone you speak with. When things are nebulous, try not to let your mind run wild with hypothetical situations. Beware of spending half of your day, emotionally dealing with or discussing possible scenarios that may never come to fruition.
- How does this moment, this conversation align with my personal and professional goals?
Yikes! I know, I took it there. This is the big picture question. Ask yourself – is this communication in line with my goals. If you’re goal is to be promoted within the company, and you find yourself on breaks chatting about how much the company sucks – you’re off track. In fact, you may be attracting people with ill feelings about the company. Realign yourself. If you’re with a group that’s discussing how an employee made a mistake and should be fired, when you personally believe that no one is perfect and with guidance mistakes can be eliminated – you’re off track. While you may not be the initiator, silence and even your presence can be interpreted as agreement. When the conversation takes a left turn, vote with your feet. Politely step away, tap out. If you lack the courage to speak your peace and ruffle feathers, let your actions tell people what you stand for.
- If these moments were recorded and shown for everyone to see, would I be proud to be involved?
Social media has really given us the ability to craft the messages we put out to the world. However, if we couldn’t choose which moments were posted and these casual conversations were added to our timelines, would the clip resemble reality TV, Real Housewives of ABC Company? I say this in humor but the truth is, I’ve seen the positive, kind-hearted people become tainted by dead end conversations. The rumor mill has never produced anything good. Perception matters. Everything we do matters, not just what we pick and choose to share with the world.
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” (Lady Eleanor Roosevelt)
I love this quote because it’s true. While there will always be something to talk about, consider the value of the conversation. Conversations frame environments and environments frame your character. Dead end conversations drain your energy, cloud your mind and judgement and can tarnish your reputation. If caught in a dead-end conversation, stop and go the other way.