No, we aren’t talking about stage performances. We’re talking about the drama that causes a pit in your stomach, makes you want to scream, and sucks the life out of you like an energy vampire.
According to Gallup research, negative behavior costs the US economy more than $350 billion dollars annually in lost productivity. Add to this the psychological, physical, and emotional toll and the drag on our economy is unbelievable.
It’s easy to identify the behaviors of drama: gossip, secrets, triangulating, blaming, avoiding, blowing up…the list goes on. A working definition that helps us get a handle on it is a bit more difficult. Over the last ten years advising and training leaders on how to deal with negative workplace conflict, we’ve evolved this definition of drama.
Drama is what happens when people struggle against themselves or each other, with or without awareness, to feel justified about their negative attention behavior.
- Drama is about struggling against. There’s always a winner and a loser. The fight may be internal, between people, or involving companies and nations.
- Drama happens with or without awareness. How each person behaves in drama is predictable and habitual. It’s highly predicted by personality and amazingly consistent from day to day.
- Feeling justified is the modus operandi in drama. If I’m in drama, my ultimate motivation is to be able to say “See, I was right!” This is why drama has such a negative impact on productivity; because people are spending energy trying to feel justified.
- Drama is all about negative attention behavior. Humans need attention. Period. If we don’t get it in positive ways, we’ll get it negatively. It’s the next best thing, and far better than being ignored.
That’s our working definition, one that we introduced in our first book, Beyond Drama, and will continue to evolve in our next book. What’s your perspective? How does this fit with your experience? Does it provide any insights? If you’ve been exposed to our work, how has this definition worked for you? Will you leave a comment?
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