How to Survive the Team Drama Triangle

I’ve been there and maybe you have too — being held accountable for producing a result, then given people to work with who do not report to you.  Hah!  Good luck!  In executive team building the team drama triangle must be identified and squashed.  Sometimes unwittingly the executive team and even a conscious leader can generate drama triangles.

How do you create a drama triangle?  That is all too easy!  Let some worker complain about someone who is telling them what to do.  Be the “mama bear” or “papa bear” and ooh and aah over someone’s upset because their work wasn’t up to someone else’s standard, someone who didn’t appreciate them and their work. Let this victim drone on and on about how hard they worked — all weekend — and how important the work is to them, and how they aren’t appreciated.  Let them whine, and give space for their upset.  Whether you are their formal manager or an outsider with power, you are now playing the rescuer in the drama triangle.

If you want to stay in the triangle, by all means, don’t get both sides of the story when you’re rescuing that poor victim.  Don’t say, “You should be having this conversation with the person who is unhappy with your work product, not me.”  Don’t ask them where their culpability in the situation is or was.

Does this happen?  Every day.  Where does it happen?  It happens in middle management situations where the middle manager’s boss lends an ear to the people who report to the middle manager.  It happens to “outsider” consultants who are brought in to work with a team.

Psychiatrist Stephen Karpman names this drama triangle in the late 1960’s.  It’s sometimes called the victim-hood triangle—the dynamic between the persecutor, the victim and the rescuer.  What is interesting about this dynamic is no matter where you START in the drama, you end up in the victim position.

We sometimes act AS IF business occupies a higher realm where our humanity doesn’t show up, when in fact we do have our “best behavior” option available at all times.  Perhaps we are well behaved at work, meaning we exhibit emotional intelligence most of the time at work.

However, under stress we tend to react rather than respond and it is in these circumstances where the drama triangle can show up.  This video is an explanation of the “Dreaded Drama Triangle,” from a different view of it AND a solution for the workplace.

If you’re ready to break the cycle of the drama triangle, I have an effective, and confidential way out!




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