In my last blog, I have briefly introduced the Drama Triangle and the three roles in it. If the triangular setting is healthy and serves all players’ interests, there might be no reason to change it. Temporary discomfort may help people to achieve better results sometimes. However, if the triangular relationship becomes detrimental for those involved, and result in long-term conflicts, low performance, and resentments, it is probably the time to escape the triangle. 

One way to identify the point to escape the Drama Triangle is by probing the imbalance between players’ intentions as well as in the relationship. The players should take some distance and potentially exit the triangular setting if they are dissatisfied with the situation. Constructive changes help all people to refocus on the matter and the positive sides of things. It does not matter which player initiate the change first. All the three players are so closely bound together, change in one will automatically provoke a change in the relationship dynamics and the others.  

So how can we escape the Drama Triangle constructively? Here are a few steps we can consider. 

Create Self-awareness 

The first step to escape the Drama Triangle is to understand what it entails, be aware of the role you are playing in a particular circumstance, and be watchful not to take one of the three roles.  

You can ask yourself a few powerful questions to improve your self-awareness. Questions such as: What role you are playing in the Drama Triangle? How long you have been playing that role? How is it serving you? Is this role where you’d like to be? If not, what can you do to change it? What are the actions you need to take to escape it? 

By becoming self-aware of your stance in the Drama Triangle, you will become mindful and avoid taking any role in it. You will not be the passive Victims who’d be dependent on others to provide solutions, or the Rescuers who’d jump in other people’s issues uninvited, or the Persecutors who’d criticize others without being helpful to tackle the underlying problem. 

Change and Get Help to Change 

The next step after creating awareness is to take action and implement desired changes. Note that making and sustaining change can be challenging, as you are moving out from your ‘comfort zone’.  

It’s suggested that people can form groups and obtain support from each other who are facing the same type of challenges. It’s helpful to be part of a bigger group, where you can relate to and build rapport and trust with the people. Be part of a group helps you to realize you’re not alone, and that you can offer and receive support, encouragement, and innovative ideas to and from others.  

An alternative is to get yourself a coach, who can help you to gain clarity on your goals, empower you to plan actions, implement and anchor the desired changes. This is also discussed later in the Empowerment Triangle. 

Use Non-Violent Communication (NVC) 

In my last blog article, I have used a fictitious conversation at the workplace to demonstrate the Drama Triangle in motion. One simple way to escape the Drama Triangle in motion is to use non-violent communication (NVC).  

The NVC allows people to communicate with honesty and empathy, instead of implying wrongness on each other. It enables people to share their observations harmoniously, offers a great opportunity for them to exchange feelings and establish deep connections, helps them to understand the needs and requests from other parties, and set the tone for a win-win solution. 

As a result, all parties are more compassionate and less defensive, conflicts are less likely to occur, and people are more likely to take responsibility and work collaboratively to achieve a common goal.  

Adopt the Empowerment Triangle 

Womeldorff created a new triangle in The Empowerment Dynamic (TED), in which he has pivoted the Drama Triangle into a set of relationships or roles that are more passionate and empowering, and can lead to a positive approach to life’s challenges. 

TED shifts the roles from the Victim, Rescuer, Persecutor to the Creator, Coach, and Challenger. It helps us to change mindsets, work towards the desired outcomes, and generate greater awareness and more options. 

In the Empowerment Triangle: 

  • Victims change to Creators, who focus on outcomes, rather than problems. Creators get clarity over the outcomes they are trying to create in lives, and take responsibility for initiating actions to achieve those desired outcomes. 
  • Rescuers take on the role of Coaches, who are compassionate and believe in Creators. They empower Creators by helping them develop goals and action plan through inquiry. Coaches encourage challenge and support individuals to create their own solutions, instead of solving the problem on their behalves.  

Persecutors adopt the role of Challengers, who challenge assumptions and status quo and focus on growth and development. They hold Creators accountable for taking actions and making progress, they lift people up instead of criticizing or blaming. 

It is important to realise that shifting from the Drama Triangle roles to the Empowerment Triangle roles require a huge amount of creativity, courage and effort, especially for someone who has assumed themselves in a particular role for long. TED promotes a mindset change, and an empowered and resourceful way of thinking, which see obstacles as challenges and increases our ability to improve options and desired outcomes. 

I hope you found this article helpful. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Learn more about self-awareness, emotional intelligence, creating psychological safety, asking powerful questions, and professional coaching skills in our ICAgile Certified Professional Agile Coaching online course ICAgile Certified Agile Coaching online course.