Joe Patti published a spectacular article on 9/18/2013 titled Drama Is A Choice that, among other things, examines the long term impact of becoming conditioned to operating in high drama environments. He suggests that even though there are no shortage of reasons why arts groups are operating in extended crisis management mode, that doesn’t mean some of it isn’t brought on by choice.
Patti’s post reminded me of an article I published nearly a decade ago titled Seeing Past The Anger that examined how managers can actively filter out unnecessary drama. The article is old enough that it predated reader comment functionality (can you imagine it?) and I recall being surprised at the number of email messages from managers taking issue with the post and asserting that there was value in listing to vitriolic complaints.
I had more or less forgotten about that post until reading Patti’s opening paragraph (emphasis added):
You may have heard the phrase, “He who yells first, loses.” This is a rule that is often used in beginning acting classes because anger is an easy emotion to go to when faced by the obstacles presented by the other people in your scene or exercise. In order to force the student to explore and exercise all the options available in human interactions, anger is often removed as a choice.
Certainly, it is one thing to remove anger in an exercise but something entirely different in real world conditions. Nonetheless, everyone in the field has a responsibility, doubly so during the Season of Discontent, to make an extra effort to refine the skills needed to see past the anger and remember that drama is a choice.
But now that comments are a reality, I’m curious to know what you think; but first, go read Patti’s post and my post from 2004. Yes, that’s a good bit of reading but you’ll be glad you did.