Karpman’s Drama Triangle

Karpman Drama Triangle | agile-od.com

In coaching enabling conversation skills, I find Karpman’s Drama Triangle (1968) very useful.

(1) Blaming, shaming and guilt tripping, (2) victim mentality and (3) “chief problem solving officer” are three recurring patterns of impediments to enabling conversations.

The Drama Triangle very nicely puts this in perspective with “actors” named as each the (i) Persecutor, (ii) Victim and (iii) Rescuer. The beauty of this model is that it accurately portrays how quickly people can move around all three roles.

The teaching is very simple and universal too.

(i) From Persecutor to Challenger

You won’t get a listening ear when using confronting language. Nonetheless, there are times we need to deliver a challenging message. Nonviolent Communication and Radical Candor are good frameworks to learning how to have these crucial conversations without invoking people’s defensive routines.

(ii) From Victim to Survivor/Thriver

Victim’s seek external solutions – it’s a form of entitlement. The world’s an unfair place, therefore I deserve better treatment. This is one display of a Fixed Mindset. Growth mindset people accept the struggle, and find to problem solve themselves.

(iii) From Rescuer to Coach

Stop solving people’s problems, coach them problem solving instead.

Here’s a more detailed version, courtesy of Patricia Morgan:

Patricia Morgan Drama Triangle
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