Conflicts in the workplace can impact the mental health of employees and without proper communication drama can sometimes feel like a ‘vampire’ draining ones life.
The Changing Course Foundation’s forum on ‘Eliminating Drama Vampires,’ lead by the foundation’s CEO and founder Cathi Neal, highlighted a few ways to maintain a peaceful environment in and outside of the workplace with a program aimed at targeting the root cause of conflict.
“It requires you to be a little bit vulnerable, it requires you to be aware of what you are feeling,” Neal said. “We feel a lot of stuff and sometimes we don’t even know why we feel that stuff. It’s easier just to feel that, react to it and go on. But the hard part is learning why.”
Neal, who has taught the Leading Out of Drama program nearly 15 times, began the forum at the Davis Chamber of Commerce by asking the group to go through a ‘self-awareness checklist’.
The boxes asked questions like “do you lose patience when things don’t go your way?” or “do you get frustrated with others who aren’t as committed as you?” Most of the room, consisting of healthcare and social workers, as well as community and business leaders, laughed as they checked yes.
Recognizing ones own behavior and knowing oneself are two key aspects of resolving conflict, Neal said. Everyone experiences trauma at some point, she said, and everyone reacts to situations differently because of this.
“Conflict is not either negative or positive, it just is and it’s how we accept it,” Neal said. “Conflict can actually be used to create positive things in the world if we could get past ourselves.”
In the LOD program, individuals are taught to recognize negative conflict behaviors, which form a ‘drama triangle’ of the ‘persecutor, rescuer and the victim,’ Neal said. Playing any of these roles can result in loss of trust, wasted energy, low moral and more, she said.
However, the ‘compassion cycle’ of ‘persistence, resourcefulness and openness’ helps individuals confront negative conflict with positive energy, creating open dialogue, problem-solving and accountability, Neal said.
Individuals rehearsed situations with Neal as she moved around printed copies of the terms placed on the floor, giving examples of each.
When Neal first began teaching the program, she said “I found out so much about myself”— this aspect of the program being one of the most important parts of maintaining positive mental health.
“We don’t know what we want so we’re always trying to figure out what our identity is and who we are,” Neal said. “Being able to figure out what we want helps that anxiety go away and it also will help with depression if we can know who we are as a person.”
Dealing with conflict in the workplace also impacts the company culture and the amount of turnover, Neal said. Because of this, culture often ranks above pay and glamour when employees measure their satisfaction.
“The people, who created this (program), when you walk in to their office, it is like heaven,” Neal said. “I mean truly, it is like tranquil.”  
For more information about the program and services the foundation provides contact Cathi Neal at 214-477-2673 or