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Avoiding Drama Trauma - Part 1

By Renee Ruchotzke


Because of our strong attachments in our congregational communities, emotions can run high during times of change. The energy produced can be creative or destructive.  The savvy leader learns to recognize emerging drama both in themselves and others—and more importantly, learns to respond to different kinds of drama with authenticity and faithfulness. Here are some tips (adapted from the book The Drama-Free Office: A Guide to Healthy Collaboration with Your Team, Coworkers and Boss by Jim Warner & Kaley Klemp).  



  • Makes excuses for own mistakes
  • Blames others when things go wrong
  • Claims there is not enough time or resources
  • Steps back when decisions are being made

Responses to Complaining as a Leader

  • Focus on the facts and avoid judgment statements
  • Give them a little time and space to consider your feedback
  • Acknowledge their gifts
  • Offer choices, but let them decide their own plan of action
  • Resist rescuing them!

Responses to a Complaining Leader

  • Keep yourself centered and non-judgmental
  • Response positively when they show clear, decisive leadership
  • Let them know you have their full support
  • If you present a problem, be ready to share suggested solutions



  • Focuses on flaws and weaknesses of others
  • Reacts to authority with hostility or cut-off
  • Plays at manipulating the situation by pointless debate, playing devil's advocate or "poking a stick" from the margins
  • Refuses to reconsider their position

Responses to Cynicism as a Leader

  • Be direct, truthful, fair and clear about your goals
  • Challenge them to move beyond their comfort zone
  • Acknowledge their gifts and praise them when they show creativity
  • Ask them to imagine possible positive outcomes, not just problems

Responses to a Cynical Leader

  • Respond to their expertise with the spirit of learning from them
  • Help them to understand and appreciate your areas of expertise
  • Be prepared and actively engage when they need to debate -- they need to process in dialogue
  • Show your appreciation, but do so in private and without too much elaboration

To Be Continued.....

About the Author

Renee Ruchotzke

Rev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) has served as a Congregational Life Consultant in the Central East Region since September of 2010. As program manager for Leadership Development, she is responsible for providing consultation, programming and training material (including webinars and videos) on...

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.