Peer Drama

6

Drama happens. People get bored, they like to talk, and sometimes the quickest way to feel a bond with someone is to talk badly about another person. Sometimes rumors and gossip are somewhat harmless, but other times they can really cause damage. If you are the person being talked about, it can feel pretty devastating. You might feel like you have no one to talk to, or no one you can trust anymore. Being part of Give Us The Floor’s supportive group chats can help you feel less alone, so if you aren’t part of one yet, now is a good time to join! 

When you’re embroiled in drama with your friends, especially if multiple people are involved, it can be hard to know the right thing to do. Here are a few steps you can take to navigate drama with your friends. 

The most effective way to stay out of drama is not to involve yourself with people who like drama in the first place. If you notice your friends are gossiping about other people, try not to join in, or give neutral responses like “Oh, they’ve never done anything bad to me.” If you have a good relationship with the gossipers, you might even consider gently asking, “Why do you feel like you have to tear that person down? I would be really upset if I heard someone talking about you like that!” 

Five tips to stop gossip are to: Ignore it, use humor, correct the rumor, speak up and tell an adult.

Making a point to never repeat what you hear. While you can’t control what other people say or do, you can become the kind of person where gossip comes to die. You can also set a good example for the people around you by modeling good behavior and kindness, giving others the benefit of the doubt, or just making it known that you don’t want to hear that kind of negative chatter by changing the subject. 

But if you become a target of gossip or drama despite your best efforts, remember that it will in all likelihood eventually blow over. The less you engage or react, the faster the instigators will get bored. That doesn’t mean you have to tolerate bullying. Find a trusted adult you can confide in. Lean into the friends you know you can trust. Most importantly, remember that the bad behavior of others is not a reflection of you. It does, however, speak volumes about the person behaving badly. “The most important thing to realize about these kinds of problem behaviors is that they aren’t about you. They are actually the behavior of someone who is nervous and anxious about their position within an organization. People lash out, gossip, and snipe at others to protect their fragile selves. They tear you down to make themselves look slightly better by comparison.” ~ Michael Kraus of the Yale School of Management. 

Remembering that it’s not about you can help you not take things so personally - while you may not be able to stop what’s happening, you can stop letting it negatively affect you. We know it’s hard, but it’s possible. 

There is only so much you can do to control the situation, but you can control how you respond to it. Take a moment to step back and let yourself feel your emotions. It may help to label what you’re feeling - just naming your emotions can go far in regulating them. Use stress-relief methods to keep calm. Write down what you’re feeling. Move your focus onto the things that are going well in your life and what you have to be grateful for. That simple shift in perspective can have a huge positive impact on your emotional wellbeing. 

Again, be sure to tell a trusted adult if the situation is getting really out of hand, and seek help if you feel your mental health is being impacted. Particularly if it’s happening in a school environment, it is the responsibility of adults to step in and put a stop to things like emotional abuse, physical threats or cyberbullying.

While it might be difficult to see it in the moment, know that these kinds of situations are helping you become stronger and more resilient. You will encounter difficult people and situations your whole life. Learning how to respond to them and take good care of yourself will help you in all kinds of scenarios. Hang in there!