Drama seems to be present more and more in today’s society, or at least it feels that way.
From the apparent disparity in behaviour between Millennials and the Generations that gave birth to them, to the expressions of frustration and displeasure at those who organise the Obstacle Course Races ran, those who provide the products and services we buy or towards posts on social media.
Some reports suggest the increase in social media tools has given the world a greater voice, with some choosing to use that voice maliciously by trolling the very people they have taken an interest in following.
Others argue the relentless pursuit of improvement kick-started by the Industrial and Technological Revolutions has driven the developed world to the point where anything less than perceived perfection is a disaster, placing blame firmly at the feet of others.
However one question I rarely hear being asked is “what is our part to play in fuelling each drama we encounter?”
Interactions between two people are a complex exchange of experiences, emotions and beliefs that lead to an observed behaviour by one person and then a reaction in the other, with the world around each individual shaping the person that presents themselves to their outer world.
These exchanges, whether face-to-face or virtually are a cauldron of opportunity for frustrations to be expressed, blame to be placed and negative comments to aimed at others, with little apparent consideration for the impact those behaviours could have.
In 1968, Stephen Karpman M.D. proposed the Drama Triangle as a way describing the connections between personal responsibility and power in interpersonal relationships. If we consider this in today’s world, the same principles still apply.
When an individual dislikes the views of someone else, they often take on the role of Victim (“Poor me, I feel helpless”), Rescuer (“Let me help you”) or Persecutor (“It’s all your fault, and I’m going to tell you so”) in their response to it. This gives the individual taking one of these positions a good feeling inside.
However, this often goes a long way to perpetuating and escalating the conflict, with those on the receiving end taking a position in their own drama triangle – persecuting, rescuing or feeling victim to the comments heard, and seeking rescue from someone else.
So what if we chose not to enter our Drama Triangle’s when we experience an interaction we have a negative response to, where we look to hear the positive intent of those sharing their opinion, or where we look into ourselves and identify the fears or insecurities we are protecting ourselves from sharing with the outer world?
In working with our colleagues we could learn more about each other, what drives us, what challenges us, and what leads us to taking the approach we do to solving a problem, all with the intent of collaboration, collective learning and growth.
When pursuing our own physical goals, we could stop getting distracted by those around us, and focus our conscious energies on improving our own performance, potentially achieving our goals sooner than expected or even higher goals.
And in our engagements on social media, instead of trolling someone for what they’ve posted (where that behaviour is Victim and Persecutor rolled into one or more statements), we could use that post as inspiration to focus on our areas to develop, to seek support to overcome our fears or simply appreciate the good in what someone has done.
So next time you are faced with a drama, consider if you are taking a position in the drama triangle and ask yourself ‘what could I do right now to enable us both to become more?’