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  • Alright. I have a close, tight-knit circle of friends.

  • We're all in different cities and we're all in different areas,

  • from local news to city government

  • to law, financial services ...

  • And despite those different areas,

  • we seem to share similar stories of workplace drama.

  • Now, I define workplace drama as

  • an annoyance that adds additional stress to the job.

  • So again, it's when people get on your nerves,

  • not the job itself.

  • So as we're going through these stories,

  • I'm realizing there has to be a better way for us to coexist with our coworkers

  • without this much drama.

  • So I created a few steps that have been working for me,

  • and I'm happy to share them with you guys today.

  • Step 1: rewind and reflect,

  • also known as, "What did I do?"

  • I want you guys to all replay your most recent workplace drama situation

  • in your head like a movie.

  • Ignore all of the emotion and just focus on you.

  • But for now, let's just think about this hypothetical:

  • say you're on a group project,

  • you each have your own individual assignments

  • and then you all divide up the work.

  • But then someone becomes unresponsive --

  • not answering calls, they go ghost.

  • Then you or someone else has to now pick up that additional slack.

  • So in a brief, small, very tiny lapse in judgment,

  • you vent to the nearby coworker.

  • Then all of a sudden, your ghost comes back,

  • and they surprisingly know everything you just said.

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, what did I do in this situation?

  • I vented to someone who was not my confidant.

  • Why would I do that?

  • Sometimes we create this unspoken bond with people

  • that only exists in our heads.

  • They don't owe me their discretion.

  • I just assumed it was there.

  • So we're not going to go down a rabbit hole,

  • trying to figure out why they did that.

  • It doesn't matter. They did it.

  • But the goal in this step is self-reflection.

  • We need to focus on what did we do

  • so we can avoid it in the future.

  • Step 2: come back to reality,

  • also known as, "It needs to stop."

  • (Laughter)

  • So you guys ever think about problems before you get to work?

  • Oh -- it's just me?

  • (Laughter)

  • Well, I'm guilty of it.

  • I think about all of these situations in my head,

  • and then I get mad just thinking about it.

  • So I'm telling myself, "No, you're just being prepared, Stacy."

  • (Laughter)

  • "You are just making sure that you can handle

  • whatever they're about to throw at you."

  • But you're not.

  • What you're really doing is setting yourself up

  • and creating this anxiety in your head

  • that doesn't exist.

  • Then we also have to be careful about

  • listening to other people's made-up scenarios.

  • Here's what I mean.

  • Let's say you're in the break room,

  • and you're talking to some coworkers.

  • Then, all of a sudden, another coworker comes in.

  • Now, they seem to just be in deep thought --

  • not overly cheerful, but they're not rude.

  • They come in, they walk out.

  • Then the coworkers over here begin to diagnose

  • what they feel is wrong with that person.

  • They're saying things like,

  • "Oh, they're just mad they didn't get the job."

  • Or they're saying, "Oh, no, no, no --

  • during this season, they're just always upset."

  • And you're sitting here like, yep, that must be it.

  • You're listening to this as if this is facts.

  • Meanwhile, this coworker can be in deep thought

  • about literally anything.

  • They could have just opened a pack of Starburst,

  • got four yellows back-to-back,

  • and they're just trying to figure out what happened.

  • (Laughter) (Applause)

  • But you're over here listening.

  • And you're listening to their made-up scenario

  • that now can impact

  • how you choose to interact with that person throughout the day.

  • Whether we're creating fake stories in our head

  • or listening to other people's made-up stories,

  • it needs to stop.

  • The goal in this step:

  • stop stressing over things that haven't happened.

  • Alright. Step 3:

  • vent and release.

  • It's good to have a vent buddy.

  • This is your coach, your cheerleader,

  • your therapist,

  • whatever you need them to be in the moment.

  • This is not like that person in Step 1 that just happened to be in earshot.

  • You have an established relationship with your vent buddy.

  • Now, here's another scenario.

  • You're getting ready to tell a customer or a client

  • something that they just don't want to hear.

  • So, as you're in the middle of this spiel,

  • up comes another coworker,

  • and they interrupt you

  • and then says the exact same thing you were saying.

  • You can't make a scene in front of a customer.

  • So you just have to sit back, "Mm-hmm," and just listen as they do this.

  • And you're burning up inside.

  • So what do we do?

  • We go to our vent buddy.

  • We talk about it. We get mad.

  • And that's the time for that. Get mad.

  • Get angry.

  • Curse, scream,

  • do whatever you need to do to get it out.

  • Now here's the hard part:

  • you then have to switch that tone to positivity.

  • I truly believe in positive and negative energy,

  • and it has a way of controlling our moods throughout the day.

  • You've got to think of things like, "OK, where do I go from here?

  • What can I do differently?"

  • And then, if you're the vent buddy,

  • it's your responsibility to lead your friend back to the positive.

  • Now, the other hard part:

  • you have to then apply those learnings to the situation.

  • You can't carry that resentment around.

  • If you do, that one-off situation now becomes a pattern.

  • Pattern behavior is harder to ignore than a one-off situation.

  • The goal in this step is,

  • "Let's turn our vent session into a productive conversation."

  • Step 4:

  • learn a new language,

  • also known as, "We need to talk."

  • Guys, I personally don't like to pick up the phone at work.

  • I just don't.

  • I feel like whatever you need to say to me can be an instant message

  • or an email.

  • That is my work language.

  • (Laughter)

  • The only problem with that,

  • you can't hear tone through an email.

  • I read emails the same way I speak,

  • so I'm pretty sure I've misinterpreted some tones before,

  • unless I know you.

  • So here's an example.

  • I'm going to show you guys an email, and I want you to read it,

  • and then I'm going to read it out loud.

  • Alright, that was fast enough, you should have read it.

  • (Laughter)

  • "Stacy,

  • Thank you for reaching out about my group.

  • At this time, we will not need any additional support.

  • Going forward, if I feel we need help, I'll ask, you won't have to reach out.

  • Per my last email (attached below),

  • I've outlined what I do, and what you do,

  • so we can avoid this in the future.

  • As always, thank you for your partnership!!"

  • Guys ...

  • (Laughter)

  • That's how you read it?

  • (Laughter)

  • Guys, there are certain words in there

  • that if you hear or if you see in an email,

  • it is safe to assume they typed it with their middle fingers.

  • (Laughter)

  • I didn't know it then. I know it now.

  • (Laughter)

  • I think I messed up some people's emails. They're correcting them.

  • (Laughter)

  • With all of that said,

  • you have to know when it is time to pick up the phone.

  • You have to know when it is time to have a face-to-face.

  • And these face-to-face conversations are not easy.

  • They are difficult, but they are necessary.

  • The goal is to try to understand the other person's perspective.

  • So you'll start the conversation with things like,

  • "OK, you got upset when I ..."

  • Or you'll say things like,

  • "OK, you already had the situation handled,

  • and then I ..."

  • So that way, you can see exactly where they're coming from.

  • Also, don't try to make people like you.

  • We all have our own upbringings. We all have our experiences.

  • And we all have our own communication styles.

  • As the new generations are entering the workforce,

  • we're also adapting to it.

  • Meetings are now emails.

  • Emails are now texts.

  • Off-sites are now Skype.

  • So as we're adjusting to that,

  • we need to at least try to understand

  • what type of style of communication they use.

  • The goal in that step

  • is to really understand their work language

  • and accept the fact that it may be different than yours.

  • Step 5: recognize and protect,

  • also known as, "We need to take a walk."

  • So here's my last scenario from one of my teacher friends.

  • You're about to have a meeting with a parent,

  • and prior to it, you and a coworker, you kind of discuss it,

  • and the coworker tells you, "It's alright, I got your back.

  • I'm going to agree with your recommendations."

  • So you're kind of side-eyeing them because they've burned you before,

  • but you've had the "we need to talk,"

  • so you're like, "We're in sync now, I'm going to trust them."

  • You go through the meeting,

  • the parent disagrees with you,

  • and like clockwork, the coworker agrees with the parent in front of you,

  • making you look ridiculous.

  • Again, we can't make a scene in front of people, right?

  • So you've got to hold it in.

  • And then, after the meeting,

  • that same coworker has all the audacity,

  • comes up to you and says, "Crazy meeting, right?"

  • (Laughter)

  • Yeah.

  • They're testing you now. It's a test. (Laughs)

  • So that's the perfect time to just go off, right?

  • This is a repeat offender.

  • (Laughter)

  • You walked away, and they came back with it.

  • But we're trying to avoid workplace drama, not take a cannonball leap into it,

  • so we have to walk away.

  • You lead that conversation by taking the first available exit.

  • You're not doing this for them.

  • You're doing this for you.

  • You have to protect your energy.

  • Don't try to figure out why they would do this,

  • and no more coming-to-Jesus conversations.

  • It is what it is, they did what they did,

  • and given the opportunity, they'd probably do it again.

  • But you now know that.

  • You now recognize that.

  • So that way, you can act accordingly.

  • We typically try to set expectations -- our expectations --

  • on other people,

  • and then get disappointed when they don't follow through.

  • We have to learn to accept people where they are

  • and adjust ourselves to handle those situations.

  • The goal in this step

  • is to recognize when it is time to professionally walk away from someone.

  • Guys, I realize these steps may come off as saying, "Take the high road."

  • And people always say it. "Just take the high road."

  • And they describe it as some elegant path of righteousness

  • filled with rainbows and unicorns.

  • It's not that.

  • It's embarrassing.

  • It's humiliating.