HUMAN RESOURCES / AUG. 26, 2014
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Let Bill Murray be Your Guide to Ending the Cycle of Workplace Drama

Have you found yourself stuck in an endlessly repeating cycle of drama on the job? Every day the alarm wakes you up to a new day, but even before the arrival of your lunch break, you have been overcome by that feeling of déjà vu. Didn’t you just go through this exact same daytime drama yesterday? And the day before? And the day before. And so on. When going to work becomes the living embodiment of listening to that same snatch of music endlessly repeating when your turntable’s needle gets stuck in a groove, it’s time to do something dramatic yourself.

Something to put an end to getting stuck in the middle of an office melodrama.

Something just crazy enough to work. 

Something like getting workplace advice from Bill Murray. 

You’ve seen Bill Murray’s 1990s romantic comedy fantasy “Groundhog Day.” It plays on a channel on your cable lineup every February 2 and it is hardly missing in action the rest of the year. Have you ever watched “Groundhog Day” with an eye toward how it can become an amazingly useful lesson in teaching how to remove yourself from constantly getting stuck in the middle of drama queens and kings on the job?  

When a co-worker who feels the need to turn the office into a daily staging of an unproduced Shakespearean tragedy, everybody suffers. Productivity shifts into low gear for the short-term. The long-term effects can be poison. Feelings get hurt. Suspicions grow out of control. Big time revenge fantasies get acted out as petty revenge realities. When the workplace turns into the location of melodrama, everything it touches is corrupted just a little. Including you. Even if you neither want nor actively seek a role.  

So how can Bill Murray be of any assistance? Because if you remember “Groundhog Day” at all, you probably remember that it took quite a while for Murray’s weatherman to come to the realization that no matter how hard he tried, he could not extricate himself nor could he change the basic foundation of his predicament. He could even try to kill himself out of his dramatic looping record skip, but come the next morning he would still wake up in the same hotel in the same town on the same day.  

The lesson? You can’t change the drama around you. You can try all you want and perhaps one day you will be successful, but probably not. So quit trying.  

It takes Murray’s character a little longer to realize that no matter how much he changes, those changes don’t impact those causing the drama. It’s all about accepting that you are stuck in your own “Groundhog Day” scenario where nothing you do or say or try will change that situation. In most cases, the only realistic way to deal with drama taking place around you at the office is step out of it. Don’t allow yourself to be dragged into the discourse. Take no sides and express no opinions on any subject that is the source of the drama being enacted.  

Avoid letting yourself be drawn into the drama as a supporting player even when the action is taking place offstage. That means not siding with any one and not expressing opinions when you are alone with one of the drama queens or kings. More than that, it also means breaking the “Groundhog Day” cycle of the drama repeating itself in an endless loop. Getting away from the effects of workplace drama means realizing that this type of situation feeds upon itself. You may not think that a casual comment spoken to someone else who wants to be outside the drama won’t add to the problem. That is a huge mistake that has been committed by many others in exactly your situation and if you insist on making the mistake of contributing in any way to the feeding frenzy, the only thing you can be sure of is waking up again to the nightmarish world of your own version of "Groundhog Day." 

 

Image Source: Bill Murray staring at me

 

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