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Escape the Drama Triangle

Have you guys ever noticed how a lot of what I yap about here on the blog about business really translates back to life?  If you haven’t noticed, then I want to highlight the point today.

One of the books on my shelf is The Power of TED (again, thank you Ken Abrams for turning me onto that), which is where I first learned of “The Dreaded Drama Triangle.”  As a human effectiveness expert, the description of the drama triangle quoted from their book’s website made perfect sense to me:

“Victim (the primary reactive role that is at the heart of the triangle); Persecutor (who or what the Victim blames for their suffering); and Rescuer (who or what intervenes to try and take away the Victim’s suffering).”

Do we not hear these stories all the time?  Listen for it.

Here’s what tends to bite in the butt.  We tell ourselves these DDT stories.  Recall that our memories are our perceptions, the stories we create for ourselves as we are distilling, distorting and generalizing incoming data.

Most people understand what doesn’t work about being in the victim role.  Victim = powerless to take positive action.

I get more questions about the persecutor, because after all, there are have and have nots.  The animal kingdom is set up on the basis of hierarchy.  There is a distinction between hierarchy and persecution.  One contruct describes a balance of power or authority.  The other requires subjugation and necessitates a powerless party.  Seems un-ecological to me.  It also implies that power comes from an external source.  Where is the persecutor without his victim?

So, what’s wrong with being a rescuer?  Again, it requires a victim.  It also requires resources.  What happens to the rescuer when there aren’t enough resources to rescue?  Being the rescuer seems romantic, but it requires a destructive, reactive cycle, especially for the victim who never learns the resources to manage their life.

TED, then, is a different triangle.  It stands for “The Empowerment Dynamic.”  The roles in that dynamic are:

“Creator (the central role in The Empowerment Dyanmic that is the antidote to “Victim”); Challenger (who or what provides the necessary impetus for the Creator take action and make positive changes);  and Coach (who supports the Creator as they define their current reality and take Baby Steps toward the achievement of goals)”

This is a great description of the model I’ve used with my clients for years.  Creators are focused on outcomes and results…. what they want.  Remember how the thinking that got you problem gets your more problem?  Remember how we get more of what we focus on?  I want you to be a creator!

Challengers are creators in their own right, and they also see out other Creators to provoke and evoke growth and development.  The intent of the Challenger is to spark learning, growth and change. (That’s who I want to be in the world, in case you haven’t yet noticed!)

Coaches see others as capable and resourceful (we learn that very early at CoachU) and to support them in the creating process by asking questions and facilitating their own clarification of envisioned outcomes, the current realities they face, and possible Baby Steps (small sequential actions that bring you ever closer to your goal) for moving forward.  The Coach sees the other as able to find their own solutions and act on them.  (That’s what I do, for all of you who still had questions!)

Come join me in this model.  Create this model in your own organizations.  Dump the drama triangle!  Contact me to set up your complimentary consultation, so that we can discuss how you create a TED in your life.

Be Your Best You Today,

Carolann Jacobs

p.s. – I used a lot of the same verbiage from  It’s well-written and worth a visit.

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