Workplace Drama: Seven Tips for Reducing Workplace Negativity

Negativity hampers productivity in the workplace and significantly decreases job satisfaction. Signs of negativity include backstabbing, gossiping, power struggles, and lack of teamwork. The end result is absenteeism, low morale, and turnover. Here are seven tips for improving workplace relationships and reducing negativity.

Schedule Regular Staff Meetings

When done properly, regular meetings provide a forum for listening, problem-solving, and honoring peak performance. Meeting mistakes include lecturing instead of engaging the team, inconsistent meeting times, no agenda, and no fun.

Create Clear Guidelines

Make relationships a priority and support the relationships with a standard operating procedure and employee manual. Review at least once a year and let the rules be the “bad guy” when it comes to discipline.

Tweak the Open Door Policy

Change your open door policy from any time to specific hours and preferably by appointment. This prevents casual visits to vent or tattle.

Promote Problem-Solving

When an employee comes to you with a complaint, acknowledge the complaint, then schedule the employee to come back with all the facts, how the problem impacts productivity, and an idea or potential solution.

Stop Office Gossip

Sally comes to you and says, “Don’t tell Donna, I said this, but Donna is unhappy with…” Discourage hearsay with a calm question, “Why are you coming to me with Donna’s problem?” Send the message you do not tolerate “rescuing” behavior.

Require Rejuvenation

No rest and recovery equals irritability, impatience, rude behavior, and more mistakes. Managing energy is crucial to peak performance and productivity. Make regular breaks mandatory at least every two hours.

Lead by Example

Model the behavior you want employees to have. Master your emotions, take regular breaks, be fair, listen, have integrity, show respect, and have fun. Remember the words of William Penn: “No man is fit to command another who cannot command himself.”

—Marlene Chism is a professional speaker and author of Stop Workplace Drama (Wiley, 2011). Marlene has master’s degree in HR development and she works with leaders who want to run their office with no complaints, no excuses, and no regrets. To get resources for managers, go to or

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