drama masksGood leaders learn how to stay out of the drama and focus on creating space for the positive resolution of conflict. 

People. Can’t live with them….can’t work with them.  So many people have said to me over the years “I’d love my job, if it wasn’t for the people”. Without doubt, the majority of workplace issues that arise are caused by people and their behavior.

In the 1960’s Stephen Karman M.D. created the Drama Triangle, a social model used in psychology to explain human interaction. Here’s a classic version of it:

The model consists of 3 habitual psychological roles which people often take in a situation:

•   The person who plays the role of a victim;
•   The person who pressures, coerces or persecutes the victim; and
•   The rescuer, who intervenes, seemingly out of a desire to help the situation
or the underdog.

It’s also common to switch roles – from persecutor to victim, to rescuer etc. There are many ways these situations can play out.

If you’re involved in a situation which has the potential for conflict, take a step back for a second and ask yourself which role you are playing.

Karman described this as a “game”: by playing a certain character, unconsciously we are able to find justification for our behavior and feelings be that anger, hurt, fear, or whatever.

To be a real leader is to be able to take yourself off the Drama Triangle and be the OBSERVOR. By refusing to play a role in the drama, you are able to look at the situation objectively and create a space where opinions and grievances can be aired and resolved, and optimal outcomes achieved.

Next time you find yourself in a situation where you are getting angry or feel really disappointed in someone, stop for a second and ask which role on the Drama Triangle you are playing, and step off the Triangle to ensure a better outcome.




PS If you’re interested in learning how to build your profile, your network and your confidence to speak up and speak out at work, watch this space for some exciting news about a new workshop series launching in June.