The Persecuting role in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™ uses control and domination to take charge of a situation. Persecutors may be a person, or they may also be a condition (such as a health issue) or a situation, (such as a natural disaster). Regardless of the form, the Persecutor dominates the time and attention of the Victim.
In The Power of TED*, the “antidote” to the Persecutor is that of the Challenger. The Challenger provokes or evokes learning and growth. Rather than reacting and feeling persecuted by the condition, situation or person, a Creator asks, “What has this come into my life to cause me to learn, to change or to develop?”
As you increase your capacity to nurture empowering relationships, you will sometimes need to step into the role of a Challenger. When you do, you are entering into a powerful partnership with another Creator—holding strength and willingness to stand for envisioned outcomes and being a “truth teller” (and doing so without blame or judgment).
How you approach challenging another is a significant consideration. Being clear on the intention behind your challenge is an important discipline for a Challenger.
In our workshops, we share the idea that there are two different intentions behind our behavior. We learned this idea from Diana Cawood, an executive coach from Vancouver, British Columbia. Diana names the first intention the “looking good intention” and the second one is the “learning intention.”
Persecutors come from a “looking good intent.” Because of their desire to stay in charge, the Persecutor’s intention is about looking good, even if it is at the expense of others. Persecutors do this by one or more of the following characteristics:
- Being right or being the hero
- Appearing smart and as a “winner”
- Projecting judgement and control toward the other
- Using energy and techniques to protect how they are seen
- Connecting only when it serves their “agenda”
- Making others cautious of connecting or engaging
- Finding ways to be “one up” on the other
Challengers come from a “learning intent.” When you challenge someone with the clear intention for their good or the group’s good, you are learning with them. Characteristics include:
- Enhancing capability and capacity to learn and create
- Maintain integrity with no “hidden agendas”
- Showing respect and care for the other(s) – even when it involves “tough love”
- Using energy to create a safe space for learning and exploring
- Creating and sustaining connection, even when there are disagreements and/or difficulties
- Helping others to be willing to engage
- Building up others as Creators
Most of us have had people who took on the Challenger role in our lives. It may have been a teacher, grandparent, neighbor, sports coach or minister who was clear and direct about what we needed to learn.
If you have had such an experience, at the time, you may have seen them as a Persecutor—-cajoling and pushing you to step-up. Looking back now, a little older and wiser, you are most likely grateful for the Challenger they were in your life.
While you cannot control how the other(s) will respond to you when you Challenge them, pausing to make sure you are coming from a learning intent increases the probability of being perceived as a Challenger, rather than a “looking good” Persecutor.
The other’s job is to grow as Creators and accept their responsibility for learning and growth.