Years ago, a lovely woman who works for me made it almost a daily ritual to tell me all the negative drama and complaints from people at my business. She truly believed she was doing me a favor, and I think she thought it was a compliment that people brought her their problems and complaints.

One day I asked her, “Why are you so available for this information? Why do so many people want to dump their negative drama onto you?” After a long conversation and a reminder about our company’s very effective and positive system for expressing grievances, she finally realized she was not helping the individuals work out their problems, she was not bringing me information I could use, and she was instead bringing stress and bitterness upon herself and her coworkers. This lovely woman is now no longer available for negative gossip and drama.

To eliminate stress from your workplace, try these four ideas for replacing stress-producing drama with fun, positive activities.

  1. Create a “Caught Ya” board. Whenever a staff member sees a coworker doing something wonderful, they’re encouraged to “write them up.” A “Caught Ya!” message could read something like, “To Derrick: Thanks for surprising me by cleaning up the stockroom.” Keep preprinted “Caught Ya” cards near your board and display it in the lunch area or break room where the “spoons” usually hang out-people who are back there stirring things up.
  2. What’s on your bulletin board? Take down anything negative and post stories of hope and inspiration for everyone to see.
  3. Devote time to a favorite charity. Doing something good for someone else brings your company together as a team and helps individuals step outside their own drama.
  4. Give people something to laugh about! It’s a medical fact that stress can lead to ulcers and other unfavorable physical calamities. When people laugh and have fun, their bodies release endorphins-the ultimate “natural high.” Give your team a daily dose of healthfulness by making your workplace fun.

As a leader, you have choices in life. You can spend your day looking for problems, and guess what you’ll find? Or you can spend your day looking for reasons to celebrate your fellow team members. At the end of the day, you can go home feeling drained, exhausted, and bitter because of all the problems you discovered, or you can go home feeling energized and grateful because you spent your day focusing on things that empower both yourself and your team. The second choice makes you a visionary leader. Which type would you rather be?

About the Author:

Winn Claybaugh is the author of Be Nice (Or Else!) and “one of the best motivational speakers in the country,” according to CNN’s Larry King. A business owner for over 25 years with over 8,000 people in his organization, Winn is the co-owner of hair care giant Paul Mitchell’s school division. Winn has helped thousands of businesses build their brands and create successful working cultures. His clients include Southwest Airlines, the Irvine Company, Vidal Sassoon, Entertainment Tonight, Mattel, For Rent magazine, Structure/Limited/Express, and others. Winn is a frequent guest on national radio and a regular contributor to online publications. Visit to sign up for his free monthly Be Nice (Or Else!) newsletter.