3D Juggling 609: Going Round in Triangles

Claire writes: “It’s not often that a day goes by without hearing someone talking about what has been done to them or hasn’t been done for them.  Whether it’s about parents or children, partners, colleagues, volunteers or bosses, it happens.  It can sabotage adult to adult relationships. We hear it in organisations all the time.  People perceive that others have power over them and are ‘doing to’ them (persecutor). Others feel that they have less power than others and experience feelings of being victims.  And often managers or leaders or vicars or parents or friends or coaches want to or are invited to take the role of rescuer and we end up going round in circles.

Karpman drew from his experience in transactional analysis and noticed that when these three positions are taken, it’s not long before people change roles.  The victim becomes the persecutor, the persecutor is invited to rescue, and so on.  Karpman called it the Drama Triangle.

If you are a manager or leader or vicar or parent or friend or coach and are asked to – or tempted to – step into the rescuer role, remember that you could make the situation worse by taking that power.  It’s not that complex to make a difference because instead of doing that, you can share the power:

In some teams and organisations, there are many victims, persecutors and rescuers and it is costly in time and money and relationships.  You can begin to shift that one conversation at a time.  In fact, that’s not too difficult.  What is harder is to do that consistently. That’s where culture changes.  But some of us rather like being rescuers.  And in the short term, it is quicker.

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