My aim in this article is to help you:
- Recognise when you are in the drama triangle
- Reassure you that you are not alone
- Resource you to get out of it.
What is a Drama?
Drama is when you spend more time talking about someone rather than talking to them. Drama is when your insides feel permanently in a knot or your head is clouded and unable to communicate what you truly want. Drama is whenever you do speak it is misunderstood, misinterpreted and it causes conflict. Of Course their are many other examples but hopefully you get the idea.
The Drama Triangle
The drama triangle is a psychological and social model of human interaction in transactional analysis (TA) first described by Stephen Karpman, in his 1968 article “Fairy Tales and Script Drama Analysis”. Below is an explanation from Caitlin Walker and Sarah Nixon’s one year self coaching diaries and if you want to find out more I highly recommend the book From Contempt to Curiosity
The Ego States
You may blame or PERSECUTE someone else, from this position you are likely to believe it is the other person that has to change. You are likely to look for evidence to prove your point. You are likely to ignore any evidence that contradicts your point. You may be shouting and clearly angry. You may be calm or even smiling. You will be pointing out that someone else is in the wrong. You will be unlikely to be taking any personal responsibility for change.
This is when you believe and we do truly believe in the moment our happiness or success or the lack of it is someone else’s fault. You will hear things like:
- If they just did ……….everything would be okay
- If they were motivated we would all be happy then…
- If they were not so idle, rude disrespectful then…
A different ‘Drama’ role is that of VICTIM, from this position you are likely to believe you are powerless. You are likely to look for evidence to prove your point and again, you are likely to ignore any evidence that contradicts your point. You may be shouting and clearly angry. You may be calm or even smiling. You will be pointing out that someone else is in the wrong. You will be unlikely to be taking any personal responsibility for change.
You might hear:
- Is it just me that can think for myself
- It seems like it is only me they can’t get on with
- I have worked so hard and given so much how come they don’t appreciate it
Another and often deceptive ‘Drama’ role is that of RESCUER, from this position you are likely to believe you are helping everyone else. You are likely to look for evidence that you have to keep doing what you are doing.
You are likely to ignore any evidence that you are maintaining a problem. You are likely to train other people to behave like victims or to dis-empower them. You are likely to pacify persecutors and build up latent anger towards them. You are likely to burn out as what you do is unsustainable.
You might hear:
- If they are not going to do it well enough I will have to do it myself
- I have to do that or they will feel left out
- Can I suggest you do…
Do you recognise yourself yet? Do you recognise someone you know?
I promise you, you are not alone and if you can spot someone else in the drama triangle then it is very likely that you are there with them too. Perhaps as persecutor because you think they have to change not you??(Just a thought)
Many businesses are stuck in drama right now. Many personal relationships fall apart because they end up in drama and of course everyone is someone else’s difficult person.
First Step, is to recognise when you are communicating with others from one of those ego states. You can share this with a trusted friend and ask them to notice if they think you are communicating from drama. You can also observe your own language and be mindful of your intention.
You can practice here by reading these statements and determining where in the drama triangle you think the person is:
- If you they were a good employee they would make time for follow up
- They just want to be paid for nothing
- They want their cake and eat it
- They don’t appreciate me
- They don’t have the same pressures as I do
- I have to come up with all the solutions and ideas, no one else ever contributes
- I have to do it because they won’t get round to it
- I have to do it because they will get stressed otherwise
- I have to do it because they are not skilled enough yet
Can you recognise Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer now?
How to get out of drama?
- Get really clear what you would like to have happen. Ensure your language is solution focused. It is what you want not what you don’t want
- Have confidence in asking for what you want and need
- Develop compassion and understanding for the difference between what is said and what is heard and give evidence based feedback
If you want to know more about ‘how’ to get out drama check my video: “How to do, delegate or ditch with confidence?” where I share 3 communication tools that can help you take the drama out of your communications.