This issue of TED* Thoughts is a follow up to last week’s posting on “Reactive Strategies,” in which we looked at a tense situation through the frame of the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™, also known as the Karpman Drama Triangle.  Let’s start with the same scenario as last week: 

The situation is tense at work or at home.  You are overwhelmed with all that you have on your plate to do.  An important colleague or one of your family members comes to you with an urgent request that you had not anticipated. 

How could you respond to this scenario from within the relationship roles of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)™?

As a Creator, focusing on the outcomes we are committed to is paramount.  At the same time, we respond to the other as a Creator in their own right, capable and resourceful in accomplishing the outcomes to which they are committed.  In speaking to outcomes, while being supportive, we might say: “I know your request is important.  However, I have commitments that I need to focus on right now that are important for me to complete.  I am willing to take 5-10 minutes to help you brainstorm how to get your needs met.”

As a Challenger, we may see the situation as an opportunity for learning and growth for the person bringing the request.  Again, it would be important to see them as a Creator in their own right, responsible for the situation at hand.  “I cannot take the time right now to help you.  If you could have given me some advance warning, I would have been happy to help or to work it into my other commitments.  In the future, I would appreciate more lead time. I am willing to take 5-10 minutes now, though, to help you brainstorm how to get your needs met.”  Tone-of-voice is critical here and the goal is not to make them feel badly or make them “wrong,” but to offer a perspective that can lead to learning.

Rather than dropping everything and becoming a Rescuer, a Coach would offer to ask questions to help the other clarify what they want/need and how they might go about accomplishing the outcome.  We might start with the same statement as a Creator (“I know your request is important.  However, I have commitments that I need to focus on right now that are important for me to complete.”) and then move into the Coach role.  “What are some ways you can get your need met that do not involve me right now?  What other people or resources might be available?” may be questions that helps the other person create a solution.

Such situations arise all the time for us – they are part of the human experience.  When they happen, we can cultivate the capability to RESPOND, rather than react.  As a Creator, Challenger and/or Coach, we have a range of empowering and co-creative responsive strategies available to us.  All we need do is create them!