One co-worker shows up in your cubical in tears.  There’s a drama queen two cubes over.  And the martyr down the hall laments the fact that she won’t get home to feed her cat because she simply can’t crawl out from under all her work.

In the office, we come across “personalities.”  But how can we prevent the work drama from ruining the bliss we try so hard to cultivate?  We work closely people, they become family.  In fact, we sometimes spend more time with them than we do our loved ones.  So how can we keep from being dragged under?

Zip your jacket.  This can be done figuratively or literally (er, imaginarily).  If you feel particularly open on a given day, having just enjoyed a great in-depth meditation or yoga class, you need to close yourself back up again.  People can sense when you’re open and vulnerable so it might be a good idea to envision yourself zipping up, cocooning in safe protective outerwear.  This can protect you from harmful energy.  All this is just a metaphysical way of saying that someone can get to you only if you let them.  But you can take this step toward shutting out the badness, keeping in the goodness.

Stay on point.  If you must have a conversation with someone who likes to be the center of office drama stick to the facts.  This person may be quick to go on tangents, gossip or fall into complaining.  You can indulge them for as long as is comfortable, but try to keep in mind the original point of the conversation.  Remind yourself and your co-worker, if necessary, that you’d prefer to avoid the negativity and the gossip.  Make an agenda if you need to.  Distribute it beforehand.  If it’s informal, simply remind yourself and your co-worker the reason for your appearance in her cube.  Stay on point and give yourself an out.  “Oh, I think I hear my phone ringing…I’ll follow up with an email.”

Honor the martyr with forgiveness and compassion.  You don’t have to reward the behavior of an office martyr with a gold star for her hours and hours and hours of effort.  But you could think about offering her some help.  Maybe that’s all she needs.  If not, if she thinks no one can do the work but her, then forgive her.  And hold her in a state of compassion.  She’s living in a perpetual state of difficulty, burden, and resentment.