By: Tina Baiter
Have you ever put your nose in the middle of something, thinking you were helping, only to watch the entire event blow up in your face? I try to live a fairly drama-free life, mainly because drama creates stress and sucks the energy out of my otherwise overly productive and energetic personality. But a few weeks ago, I attempted to help a co-worker by defending her to our boss. In the end, not only did I get a lecture for getting in the middle of company gossip by our boss, but she stopped talking to me.
Lesson Number 1: Ignore Venting from Co-Workers
My boss was right. If you allow every employee you work with to use your office as a venting ground, two things happen. First, you lose time better spent on important tasks as you listen to their “oh woe is me” story. Second, you make yourself part of the problem, either by offering advice or by debating their drama over in your head trying to justify a resolution. Don’t do that to yourself or to your career.
Lesson Number 2: There are Three Sides to Most Drama
The second thing I learned, as I was getting lectured from my boss for getting involved in the drama, was there are three sides to ever story. There’s “he said”. There’s “she said”. And somewhere in the middle, there’s “the truth”. When you become the venting board for one person, you may seek to give advice on only one of those sides. That is what I did. Only I took it a step further, and I actually went to my boss to tell him how wrong I thought he was to treat my co-worker the way he had. My mom always called me her “Little Erin Brockovich” growing up because I liked to stand up for others who wouldn’t stand up for themselves. Unfortunately, this time I stood up for someone without learning both sides of the story. As it turns out, I had no grounds to stand on.
Let me tell you. There are few things worse than having to eat crow when you’ve jumped down the neck of the owner of the company for something it turns out he never did. Lucky for me, the owner knows me well enough to not fire me for my moment of stupidity.
Lesson Number 3: Wag Your Own Tail
Sometimes it is good to be an Erin Brockovich and stand up for others. Just remember, Erin stands up for people seriously hurt or injured who are unable to stand up for themselves. In the case of office drama (or most other drama people bring into your life), if someone cannot stand up for themselves, they truly do not need to be coming to you to vent. Do not leave yourself open to it.
Whenever I have a problem, I tend to turn to quotes for advice from those much wiser than I on how to fix the problem. To solve this particular situation, I ran across a quote that has become my new life motto.
“Honey, if it ain’t your tail, don’t wag it.”
Those nine words have some of the most powerful advice I have ever been given. So today I share it with you. If the problem someone brings to you is not directly related to you, turn them away to solve it on their own. When you stop allowing the drama to come into your office, it is amazing how much more time you have to finish projects. It is also amazing how much more energy you have when you stop letting the weight of others weigh you down.