This is the second in a 3-part series providing an overview of each of the questions contained in “3 Vital Questions ™: Applying the Power of TED* to Work and Life.” 

Last week, we covered the 1st Vital Question: Where are you putting your focus?, which highlighted the Victim and Creator Orientations.

This week we explore the 2nd Vital Question:

How are you relating – to others, your experience and yourself?   Are you producing or perpetuating drama or empowering others and yourself to be more resourceful, resilient and innovative?

There is a direct link and flow between the 1st and 2nd Vital Questions.  Your Orientation, or mindset, fosters and perpetuates the way you relate to others, and yourself, as you move through your day-to-day life experiences.

The Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™

The Victim Orientation, which is focused on problems, anxiety-based and reactive in nature, is the mindset that results in drama-centered ways of relating.

In the late 1960’s, Dr. Stephen Karpman first formulated what became the Karpman Drama Triangle, with its roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer.  In the TED* work, we have come to call it the Dreaded Drama Triangle, or DDT, because of the toxic nature of the relationship roles and dynamics it describes.  Karpman’s triangle focused on dynamics between people, whereas the DDT offers a broader perspective.

The central role of the DDT is that of Victim. While a Victim may be an individual, it could also be a group (e.g. a team, ethnic or religious group, family, organization, etc.).  You, or the group, are in the Victim role any time you find yourself complaining or feeling powerless or hopeless.

To be a Victim, you must have a Persecutor, which could be a person (or persons), a condition (such as a health challenge) or some other situation (such as a natural disaster).  The Persecutor dominates the time, attention and energy of the Victim.

The role that completes the DDT is the Rescuer.  A Rescuer need not be a person. It can be any behavior or activity (e.g. addiction, shopping, web-surfing, etc.) that helps a Victim “numb out” from their powerless/hopeless feelings.  The Rescuer can show up in several ways: it may be sought out or “hoped for” by the Victim or the Rescuer may impose themselves into the system.

The reality is that we all play all three roles and we can switch roles in a “blink of the eye.”

For decades, those who wrote about the Karpman Drama Triangle had little to offer as an alternative way of relating in life and work, other than to say, “Now that you know about it, don’t do it anymore!” That is up ‘till now.

TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) ™

By adopting a Creator Orientation, in which you are outcome-focused, passion-powered and taking Baby Step actions, you are operating in ways that pave the way for a much more empowered, resourceful and fulfilling way of relating to others and to life… which is TED*.

The TED* roles of Creator, Challenger and Coach serve as the antidotes to the corresponding toxic DDT roles.

The central role of TED* is that of Creator – the antidote to Victim.  As a Creator, you develop your capacity to envision and create outcomes and, just as importantly, choose your response to life’s opportunities and challenges.

The antidote – or opposite – of the Persecutor is that of Challenger.  Whether a person, condition or situation, Challengers call forth learning and growth.  When you serve as a Challenger to others, it is imperative that you treat them as Creators and to challenge from a “learning intent.”

The helping role in TED* is that of Coach – the antidote to the Rescuer.  As a Coach, you support the other as a Creator who is ultimately capable and responsible for the outcomes they create and choices they make.  You support them primarily by asking questions that help them clarify outcomes, assess their current reality, and identify and commit to Baby Steps.

As you grow and more consistently move through life from a Creator Orientation, you will develop your ability to move between all three roles as a Co-Creator with others in work and life.

Making “Shifts Happen”

You have the capacity to consciously choose to shift from the DDT to TED* roles.  Adopting the TED* roles and making shifts happen is “simple, but not easy.”

In last week’s essay, we set up a simple scenario:  You are called to an unplanned meeting with your boss.  Your way of relating to your boss and the situation would be significantly different if you assumed a Victim versus a Creator stance.

The first would position your boss as Persecutor and/or Rescuer.  Meeting your boss as a Co-Creator and inviting him/her to be a Challenger and Coach could lead to all kinds of empowered, resourceful and fulfilling outcomes!   That is the reason the 2nd Vital Question asks:   How are you relating?