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Unveiling the Drama Triangle in the Corporate Dynamics: Are you the Critical Parent, Rebellious Sibling, or Submissive Child

Unveiling the Drama Triangle in the Corporate Dynamics: Are you the Critical Parent, Rebellious Sibling, or Submissive Child

Growing up in my family, I was the oldest of 3 children. My sister directly younger than me was 5 and a half years younger and the youngest 9 years my junior. I didn't know it at the time, but we all had specific "roles" that we played. Similarly, my mom had her role too. It wasn't until I was well into college studying psychology that I realized the dynamic. We all grow up playing certain roles in the family dynamic. This is no different in corporate culture. Leaders, staff, front-line workers all walk in the workplace with their own lived experience, which often involves unresolved childhood family dysfunction and/or trauma. As a result, intriguing psychological concept that frequently unfolds within these settings is the Drama Triangle. Originally proposed by Stephen Karpman in the 1960s, this framework illuminates the dysfunctional dynamics that can emerge in various relationships, including those found within corporate environments. In this blog, we will delve into how the Drama Triangle manifests in corporate culture, its three key roles, and strategies to break free from its grip.

The Roles of The Drama Triangle
The Drama Triangle identifies three distinct roles that individuals can adopt in conflict-ridden situations: the Victim, the Rescuer, and the Persecutor. These roles are not static; rather, individuals often cycle through them, creating a complex interplay of power dynamics and emotions. In a corporate context, these roles can significantly impact teamwork, decision-making, and overall productivity.

The Critical Parent (Persecutor)
Within this family home, the Critical Parent assumes the role of authority, often critiquing and finding fault. In the corporate world, this role aligns with the Persecutor, those who use their power to belittle and criticize. Their actions create an atmosphere of fear and anxiety, stifling creativity and open communication.

The Rebellious Sibling (Rescuer)
Amidst the family dynamic, the Rebellious Sibling emerges, resisting authority and pushing boundaries. In the corporate realm, this persona mirrors the Rescuer, often embodied by managers who overstep their roles by trying to solve every issue. Despite their good intentions, they inadvertently undermine their colleagues' abilities and hinder growth.

The Submissive Child (Victim)
Within this familial context, the Submissive Child remains compliant, avoiding conflict and relinquishing power. However, in the corporate narrative, this role embodies the Victim, those who display helplessness and seek others to rescue them. This can lead to a culture of blame and evade responsibility, hampering overall progress.

Impact of the Drama Triangle on the Corporate Family
The Drama Triangle can exert a detrimental influence on corporate culture in several ways:
It Erodes Trust and Collaboration: As employees engage in power struggles, psychological safety diminishes, trust evaporates, collaboration becomes strained, and authentic communication is no longer available.
It Stifles Innovation: The cycle of blame and disempowerment discourages risk-taking and innovative thinking. Employees become reluctant to propose new ideas for fear of being labeled as a Victim, Rescuer, or Persecutor.

It Hampers Decision-making: When individuals are fixated on their roles, rational decision-making takes a backseat. Decisions might be driven by emotions and personal agendas rather than the organization's best interests. 

The Role of NLP & Emotional Intelligence in Breaking Free from the Drama

Learning the tools of trauma informed communication, NLP, and expanding emotional intelligence provides the foundation for escaping the clutches of the Drama Triangle requires a conscious effort to shift from these roles to healthier, more constructive dynamics:

Awareness: The listening gained by learning neurolinguistic programming helps you to recognize the automatic patterns as programming when they arise, and expanding emotional intelligence helps you to recognize the familiar feelings and emotions in your body that happen when you are slipping into the Drama Triangle roles. Self-awareness is the first step toward change.

Communication: Foster open and transparent communication. The tools of NLP bring the capacity to facilitate compassionate yet direct communication that focuses finding solutions instead of dwelling on problems. Furthermore, NLP communication brings specific conflict resolution strategies that focus on collaborative problem-solving rather than blame. NLP provides a listening that moves victims and persecutors out of their roles and into a more productive interaction.

Boundary Setting: Healthy boundaries between roles and responsibilities are essential. There should be clear communication of expectations. When this is present, leaders and managers can trust their teams to take ownership of their tasks, and the teams are motivated to do their best work.

Corporate culture is a dynamic ecosystem where relationships and roles intertwine to create a productive or toxic environment. Understanding and addressing the Drama Triangle is pivotal for fostering an emotionally and psychologically safe culture that promotes growth, collaboration, and innovation. By recognizing the roles, acknowledging their impact, and actively working towards healthier dynamics, organizations can free themselves from the grip of the Drama Triangle and create a more harmonious and thriving workplace.

Bring the tools of trauma informed listening and speaking into your organization and create psychological safety for your leaders and staff. Increase productivity, employee satisfaction, and retention. Contact us today to learn more about our workplace culture consulting and training.


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Saturday, 13 April 2024