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Are You Working from Presence or the Drama Triangle?

When a work team and its leader have a low level of presence, one of the inevitable outcomes is what is known as "the drama triangle". In the drama triangle, people enact the parts of victim, persecutor, and rescuer and so create a continuous cycle of drama. Such interactions harm both individuals and teams. But it doesn't have to be that way.  

In this course, you'll learn why people play the roles of victim, persecutor, and rescuer in the drama triangle and how these roles can be transformed through conscious presence.

As usual in these courses, we'll give you the course transcript to read first, followed by the video for you to watch, and ending with a quiz to find out what you've learnt.

Our thanks go to Jim Dethmer and The Conscious Leadership Group for the concept and video.

So, let's look at the key points.

1. Are You Working from Presence or the Drama Triangle?: The Key Points

Conscious leaders know the difference between working from presence and working from the drama triangle.

Presence is above the line and drama is below the line. Most leaders and most organizations spend most of their time in the drama triangle. Drama is characterized by blame, wanting to be right, toxic fear, and adrenaline.

Like good dramas at the movies, all drama has characters that play certain roles. The drama triangle has a hero, a villain, and a victim.

The job of the hero is to seek temporary relief. The key word is temporary. The hero is the one who gives a hungry person a fish sandwich rather than teaching them how to fish. The hero doesn't want others or themselves to feel bad. So they say and do things that make the immediate pain go away without facing and dealing with the core issue.

When I'm exhausted from overworking, I "hero" myself by eating and drinking mindlessly or surfing the web, or exercising. When another feels sad, I "hero" them by saying things like, it'll be okay or I'll do it for you. The hero seeks value by being needed by others.

The second role on the drama triangle is the villain. The villain's job is to blame. I can blame myself, others, or blame the group. When I blame myself, I say things like, I shouldn't have eaten that donut, or, I should work harder, or, I messed up that presentation. When we blame others, we say it's your fault we didn't get that project done, or, you didn't give your best effort. When we blame a group we say, they messed it up for all of us, or, they just don't get it.

The final role on the triangle is the role of victim. The victim is "at the effect of". Life is happening to them. For the victim, a person, circumstance, or condition is doing something, or not doing something, that is causing the victim's life to be as it is.

I can be at the effect of anything, including my boss, my kids, the weather, my job, the traffic, the economy, my body, and my mood. When I'm in victim mode, I'm feeling powerless.

Every role in the drama triangle is a form of victim consciousness and, in the end, everyone is trying to prove that they are the biggest victim.

When people in teams work in presence, the roles change.

The victim moves from victim to being the creator. They take responsibility for their lives and stop complaining about what is happening to them.

The villain becomes the challenger. Challengers bring healthy pressure to the creator to support them in facing and dealing with their lives in a way that creates a breakthrough. Unlike the villain, they don't blame or criticize.

In presence, the hero becomes the coach. The coach doesn't try to fix anyone. They see everyone as fully empowered creators of their own lives and seek to support them in taking responsibility for creating the life they most want.

Leaders and teams that learn to play in the creator, coach, or challenger roles of presence find they are more creative, engaged, aligned, and energized. They have more fun and get more things done.

So, are you working from presence or the drama triangle?

Now, to reinforce these key points, let's take a look at the video.

2. Are You Working from Presence or the Drama Triangle?: The Video

3. Are You Working from Presence or the Drama Triangle?: The Quiz

Use the quiz that follows to check how much you've learnt in this course. Simply type in what you think are the missing word or words in each of the statements.

We hope you score well, but, if you want to have another go, re-read the texts in this course or have another look at the video. All the answers are in there somewhere!

By entering your email address at the top of the quiz, we'll be able to send you your score and show you how well you did on each of the questions.

Good luck!


4. Are You Working from Presence or the Drama Triangle?: Your Action Plans

That completes this online course but, as a learner, it should be just the start of your application of the knowledge and skills in this course.

So, in our final exercise, use the form below to record the action you'll now take to put what you've learnt into practice.


That completes this MTL course but, hopefully, for you, it is the start of new opportunities in your life and work.

While you are here, take a look at all the other MTL courses on this site.

Remember, everything is free on MTL Masterclass, the site where you can both teach and learn on your mobile phone in simple, easy, and time-saving steps.

From all the MTL team, thanks and good luck with all your learning!