How to conquer daily drama at office, and emerge feeling empowered

An expert lets us in on the secrets to thriving in your office space despite daily stress.

11 July, 2024
How to conquer daily drama at office, and emerge feeling empowered

How many of us reading this began our twenties with big dreams and ambitions, to be the best at our careers and in our workspaces, only to begin feeling burnt out and stressed (with a little garnish of an existential crisis) a couple of years later? Dealing with the stress of meeting deadlines and putting in the effort to always be productive all while attempting to effectively and efficiently manage our time to climb up the corporate ladder doesn’t seem to be as easy as it sounds. At some point, you will have to face the challenges of office politics, toxic superiors breeding an unhealthy work culture, and sometimes even getting into a spat with your coworkers. Needless to say, the drama at the office never stops. In such a scenario, the real question then remains, how do we deal with all of this and still continue to excel?

“Many clients come to me with office issues, not because they have depression or anxiety, but because they’re struggling with career progression. They feel excluded from workplace groups, which hampers their growth despite hard work. This sense of being an outsider stems from what I understand to be office politics—hidden dynamics where some are pushed up while others are held back. What we need to understand here is that such behaviour is inherent to human nature in group settings, where everyone is focused on climbing the ladder, often disregarding the impact on others,” said Chumki Bose, chief psychologist at Mindtribe. And I think a lot of us who are a part of corporate life may have even gone through such a situation in our careers, where, sometimes, our hard work tends to go unnoticed. And it can get frustrating to put in the work and not receive any credit for it. This then brings us to the question: how do we tackle this inevitable corporate issue? To this Bose replied, “My advice here would be to take everything at face value. Focus on your own performance and don’t overthink office politics or others’ opinions. Understand your role and expectations clearly, build strong relationships and maintain a clear vision of your career path. This approach will help you stay peaceful and focused on what truly matters.”

From all the aspects that constitute a functioning organisation, one important pillar of corporate life is interpersonal relationships. And this should also be made clear: where there is a relationship, there will be some conflict. We as working professionals need to understand that we will have varying levels of relationships at work. In order to aim for cordial relationships and maintain a harmonious environment, one needs to behave like a cat in a new environment. Take the time to observe and understand how people behave, the office culture, and the expectations around time and performance. Allow yourself time to adapt and integrate into the organisation. And on the occasion you do happen to find yourself in a conflict with your peers, Bose suggests being gentle and direct with the other person in order to navigate through the situation.

“To navigate conflict, recognise when you are developing negative feelings towards someone. Understand that having such feelings is normal and doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. Instead of disconnecting, address the issue by clearly communicating your thoughts and feelings using ‘I’ statements. For example, ‘I feel’ or ‘I need’. Ask for the other person’s perspective and express your desire for a long-term positive relationship. If the other person doesn’t respond well, remember that this is a common fear and part of the negotiation process. While there’s no guarantee they’ll see your point of view as constructive, discussing the issue is better than letting it fester,” she added.

In the moments where conflicts arise, it is also necessary to make your personal boundaries clear. “The most important aspect of setting boundaries is learning to say no effectively and also how you say it. For example, instead of a flat refusal, you can offer different alternatives that work in favour of both individuals. This way, you establish a boundary without being overly offensive or rude. It’s crucial to learn how to say no by identifying your needs and providing reasons. And then convey them in a way that respects both your needs and the other person’s feelings. This approach ensures you maintain healthy boundaries while also communicating effectively,” suggested Bose when we asked her how one can effectively set boundaries in the workplace.

Remember, drama at a workplace is simply unavoidable. But through effective communication, hard work, and stress management, one can easily navigate through the uncharted waters of corporate life. And let’s be honest, sometimes office drama is the spice that we all need to make corporate life interesting. Don’t you agree?

Feature image credit: Pexels

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