This is a point we always make in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) ™ workshops. It also came up in a conversation we had this week with several TED* Practitioners talking about feedback they had received from a recently completed 13-week TED* series. A couple of the written comments from participants indicated that, now that they know and can recognize the DDT roles, they can tell people when they see them playing the roles – and especially Victim.
That is when TED* becomes a “hammer.” Once you have named someone as a Victim, the almost universal response is going to be some form of reactivity – defensiveness; distance; attacking back.
This image of a hammer was given to David years ago when a workshop participant admitted that, after reading The Power of TED*, he would call people on their Victim behavior, only to have them react defensively and, often, shut down. “I realized,” he said, “that TED* had become a new hammer that I hit people over the head with when they were acting disempowered.”
We all desire to see those we care about, including those we work with, grow beyond the DDT roles into the TED* roles of Creator, Challenger and Coach. However, the best way to encourage people to make that shift happen is to change yourself and model the way.
Remember this: you can’t argue against someone’s sense of victimization. This is a lesson that many of us have learned the hard way (because of the reaction we have received when we do).
When someone is exhibiting Victim behavior (complaining, whining, blaming, etc.), this is the process we suggest:
- Allow them to “vent.” This can actually be healthy in that they get out what has them feeling like a Victim.
- Show empathy, so they know they are being heard. A simple “I can see you are frustrated” or “I hear your anger” is enough to let them know they are being heard and seen.
- Redirect the focus. Depending on the subject or object of their sense of victimization, you can then redirect them either as a Challenger or Coach. As a Challenger, you might point out that they have a choice as to how they respond to the situation they are speaking about. As a Coach, you might ask “Given the situation, how do you want to respond – what options are available to you?”
We are grateful that TED* opens up a new realm of possibility in the way we relate to others. At the same time, we have learned that bluntly pointing out to others when they are in the DDT is often counterproductive.
TED* is not to be used as a hammer, but as an invitation.