Thursday, 15 March 2018

The Drama Triangle - book excerpt

Dear Reader,

Here is an excerpt from a book, I am reading. - The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever. This excerpt rang alarm bells in my head. It answered to a question I had been asking myself lately: “Why do I end up being over-busy and over-whelmed with unending tasks?” 

.. when this happens, Karpman says, we are bouncing around between three archetypal roles – Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer – each one as unhelpful and dysfunctional as the other. As you read the descriptions of each role below, do two things: bring to mind someone who’s particularly adept at each role, and bring to mind the circumstances in which you most commonly play each role.

The core belief: “My life is so hard; my life is so unfair. ’Poor me’!”

The dynamic: “It’s not my fault (it’s theirs).”

The benefits of playing the role: You have no responsibility for fixing anything; you get to complain; you attract Rescuers.

The price paid for playing the role: You have no sense of being able to change anything – any change is outside you control. You’re know to be ineffective. An no one likes a whiner.

Stuck is: “I feel stuck because I have no power and no influence. I feel useless.”

The core belief: “I am surrounded by fools, idiots or just people less good than me.”

The dynamic: “It’s not my fault (it’s yours).”

The benefits of playing the role: You feel superior and have a sense of power and control.

The price paid for playing the role: You end up bring responsible for everything. You create victims. You’re known as a micro manager. People do the minimum for you and no more. And no one likes a bully.

Stuck is: “I feel stuck because I don’t trust anyone. I feel alone.”

The core belief: “Don’t fight, don’t worry, let me jump in and take it on and fix it.”

The dynamic: “It’s my fault / responsibility (not yours).”

The benefits of playing the role: You feel morally superior; you believe you are indispensable.

The price paid for playing the role: People reject your help. You create Victims and perpetuate the Drama Triangle. An no one likes a meddler.

Stuck is: “I feel stuck because my rescuing doesn’t work. I feel burdened.”

These three labels aren’t descriptions of who you are. They’re descriptions of how you’re behaving in a given situation. No one is inherently a Victim of a Persecutor or a Rescuer. They are roles we end up playing when we’ve been triggered and, in that state, find a less-than-effective-version of ourselves playing out.

We all play all of these roles all the time. Often, we’ll cycle through all of the roles in a single exchange with someone lurching from Victim to Rescuer to persecutor and back again…. Think of the most annoying person on your team right now, the one who’s giving you difficulty even as we speak. Did you notice that in a flash, you jumped to Persecutor (They make me so mad!), Victim (It’s not fair, why can’t I get them onto someone else’s team?) and Rescuer (I’ll just keep trying to do their work for them until they get up to speed) all at once?...

When we’re in Rescuer mode, we’re constantly leaping in to solve problems, jumping in to offer advice, taking over responsibilities that others should rightfully keep for themselves. We do it with good intentions; we’re just trying to help, to “add value” as managers. But you can already see the price that’s being paid by both sides. You’re exhausted – and they’re irritated. You’re limiting opportunities for growth and for expanding the potential of those you’re working with. More provocatively you might be coming to understand that Rescuers create Victims, though we want to believe that its’s the other way around…

The author goes on to suggesting an approach that can be summed up as;

a.     You’ll fall often in the drama triangle. Quicker you learn to recognize, faster you will come out of it

b.     Ask: How can I help you? What do you want from me?

c.      Be prepared to say NO, if the request does not work for you. There is a whole chapter on that in the book.

May this excerpt inspire you to exit the drama triangle if and whenever you get caught into. It has helped me realize that jumping into the rescuer mode is instead damaging the very same person I rescued.

Warm regards