Career Advice: How to Manage Personal Drama at Work


Hi everyone! Emma is extremely busy after the grand opening of Boxx Restaurant, so I’ll be covering her blog posts for a little while.

Today I thought I’d write about how to stay focused in the office when the people around you are dealing with personal issues. As much as we try to stay professional, we’re all human, and sooner or later a situation like relationship troubles or family tragedy will get in the way of someone’s ability to work. Even though it’s not intentional, it can be hard on the people who have to cover for them. Here are a few tips I’ve learned on how to be a supportive coworker and still take care of yourself.

Have compassion

Always try to be sympathetic and understanding with people. It’s easy to get mad and point fingers, but I think that most of the time, people are doing the best they can and they deserve the benefit of the doubt. Getting upset won’t make it any better, and being kind might help them heal faster. As crazy or difficult as it might be for a little while, try to stay positive, upbeat, and solution-oriented. It will better for them and for you.


While it’s important to be kind and supportive, getting work done is still your top priority. That might sound a bit harsh, but if your coworkers are struggling with personal stuff and have to focus on themselves for a while, the best way you can help them is to keep business running smoothly until they’re ready to handle it again.

Take care of yourself

Focus on your work, get the job done, and then take time to help the people around you. It’ll get them back on their feet sooner and benefit the rest of the business – that’s what Emma likes to call a win-win. But please, please don’t forget to take care of yourself too. It won’t do anyone any good if you wear yourself out trying to fix everything. Get plenty of rest, take things one step at a time, and whatever you do, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Keep your personal life away from work

When your coworkers’ emotions and dramas affect their work, you’re going to have to leave yours at home. So no personal calls, no visitors, and no Internet browsing or personal emails. There needs to be a balance, and now is the time for you to be all work and no play, at least until you go home for the night. Of course, the other side of that coin is…

Don’t take it home with you

You’re under a lot of pressure, and it might be tempting to take work home to try and catch up, or maybe vent about the work drama to your friends and family – but trust me, this is a bad idea. You need your home to be a place where you can relax, recharge and focus on yourself. Change into comfortable clothes, have a healthy dinner, maybe enjoy a movie or a good book, and make sure to get plenty of sleep. If you have a creative hobby, now’s a great time to focus on it as an outlet for some of the pressure you may be feeling. All of these healthy habits will give you the energy you need to support people and deal with the stresses and challenges of another work day.

Write it down

Even if you’re used to juggling a dozen tasks at once, when things get tough, write everything down. Work drama can be full of surprises and distractions, and there’s nothing worse than stopping in the middle of something and being unable to remember where you left off. Plus, scientific studies have shown that writing things down helps you learn, focus and achieve your goals. So keep a diary of messages, to-do lists, errands and projects that you need to take care of for the day, and divide your work into smaller tasks so you don’t get overwhelmed. Every little bit helps.

Silence is golden

There’s a good reason libraries have a rule about keeping quiet – noisy environments can be really distracting and keep you from focusing on what needs to be done. If you’re dealing with a lot of stress at the office, keep your personal work space calm and quiet. Your desk might be located in a busy area, but see if you can minimize noise by closing doors or maybe finding a quiet corner to work in. It helps if you can train yourself to tune out conversations and background noise, and if all else fails, there’s always headphones. Soothing music, preferably without lyrics, is a good way to drown out distractions.

I know it can be hard, but your coworkers are just people. They have emotions and make mistakes, so do your best to stay as professional and supportive as possible, even when things fall apart. Remember, it will get better.

– Harriet