The first step in drama prevention is really to just prevent the creation of feelings in the first place. At its core, drama originates when people develop feelings–feelings they have been wronged, betrayed, lied to, manipulated; that they misjudge someone’s character, they devoted more to the relationship than what they got in return, someone else received special treatment. So, if we want to prevent drama from occurring in the first place, then we must prevent those feelings from developing in the first place. Easier said than done, right?
The first rule in drama prevention is to have clear communication. In my experience, I’d say 95% of drama occurs due to poor communication; I thought you said one thing, but you really meant to say something else. When we are clear communicators–we tell people exactly our needs, when we intend to respond back, minimize the use of ambiguous pronouns, speak directly–we eliminate these moments of miscommunication that could potentially lead to the creation of feelings.
In addition, we do not talk about other people unless they are there to defend themselves; if I cannot make my comment in front of the person, then I probably should not make the comment at all (this is where the other 5% of drama is created).
This is how rumors begin. I say, “Did you hear So-And-So got fired from her job?”, someone else chimes in, “Really? I saw her running out of the boss’ office today. I wonder what she did!”, and someone else responds, “I heard she pilfered donuts off the snack cart!” (and then fear starts in set in with the employees that they, too, may be fired, because they once snagged a snack off the cart as well). If So-And-So were there to defend herself, we might learn that she did not, in fact, get fired, but rather was in the boss’ office to discuss a transaction, and then realized she left her car windows open as it began to rain, and ran out of the office to close the windows.
Certainly, situations in our lives come up that provide a limited amount of slots. Denver Bronco Cheerleaders: 26 slots. Your favorite movie: 1 slot. But, then there are other situations that don’t come with a limited amount of slots that we still find ourselves being competitive with. The New York Times’ Bestseller List. Number of dancers doing the advanced turn section. Amount of A’s on transcripts.As maturing individuals, even as adults, we often see ourselves in competition with others, when in reality, we should see ourselves in competition with ourselves. As a teacher, it often comes to me that a student will say, “you graded me unfairly. So-And-So said they got a better grade and I know my paper was better”, and I always respond with two comments: you don’t know that So-And-So is telling the truth, and you don’t know the circumstances revolving around those grades.
These circumstances could include, but are not limited to: So-And-So has a family issue going on, So-And-So receives special accommodations, So-And-So came in to ask for extra help. I’ve had it happen before that So-And-So’s dog unexpectedly died, mom was sent to a behavior center, grandma just got diagnosed with cancer. It could be that So-And-So and I are working through an anxiety issue, and just turning IN the paper is a step towards progress. If the teacher, or the coach, is doing is well, an Outsider should never know the details surrounding So-And-So’s circumstances, and when we look at ourselves in competition with So-And-So, and we perceive So-And-So as receiving different treatment than the self, those feelings that we don’t want begin to surface.
Always be solution oriented: Say, for example, the girl you dance next to continually jumps on the wrong count (you know its supposed to be 4, but she clearly jumps on 5, and it messes up you getting to your next formation). The tendency in this situation is to roll your eyes at her, and when your mom comes to pick you up, spend the entire car ride complaining about what a terrible dancer she is, how she can’t count, and how her boyfriend has weird teeth. You stir up negative feelings about her, project those into the next practice, and when you jump into your mom’s car the next day, you’ve found more things to bash her on. Your mom asks you, “How was So-And-So today?”, and you tell your mom that So-And-So STILL can’t count, her boyfriend STILL has weird teeth, and today, she ate this weird green stuff at lunch.
But, what problems do these conversations solve? Sure, these conversations may release a little bit of steam, allow you to vent off some frustration–one time–but ultimately what happens is you start to LOOK for things to bash So-And-So on, so that when you jump in the car with your mom, you have something to talk about.
When we keep ourselves solution-oriented, we limit these types of conversations. Rather than bashing So-And-So about her not being able to count the jump, to be solution-oriented, we might ask So-And-So to stay after practice for a minute to review the counts. Not only do we build a relationship with So-And-So, we prevent ourselves from that very, very dangerous territory that leads us to questioning the weird green stuff she eats at lunch.
Lastly, be reflective of the self, because maybe it is, in fact, us that has caused the drama. One year, I called an extra practice on a Friday evening–timing was not ideal for anyone, but the practice was necessary for the team to review some choreography, and one team member decided that she had other plans, and told the team she contracted strep throat, and then proceeded to post pictures of herself on Snapchat at a concert. Naturally, the team felt betrayed–lied to, their trust in their team mate diminished–and her team mates felt it unfair that they all sacrificed their Friday nights while she ran around and socialized, and they confronted her about it.
Did YOU send the ambiguous text message? Did YOU spread rumors? Did YOU participate in the creation of feelings? If so, you can’t really ruminate in, “I hate drama”, because you, too, are not being solution-oriented…