From Drama Queens to United Team: Resolving Workplace Conflict

BlogHR AdviceLeadership Development Posted: Friday 8th January 2016 by

According to the Karpman Drama Triangle there are three roles that most of us slip into when there is a bit of a ‘situation’ at work. These roles create interactions that are not particularly healthy. However, if you can identify which of the roles you are most likely to slip into you have an opportunity to change the way you interact and so prevent the drama.

The three roles are: Persecutor, Victim and Rescuer.

The triangle is usually perceived to be triggered by the Persecutor. This is the person disrupting the equilibrium, being aggressive and forcing their point of view on others. In turn this ‘creates’ a Victim – someone who feels attacked, powerless and thwarted. The Victim blames the Persecutor for their situation. In comes the Rescuer who intervenes to protect the Victim from the Persecutor and solve the problem for them. However, in this situation the Rescuer simply reinforces the Victim’s helplessness, the Persecutor has even less respect for the Victim and the cycle continues.

The thing is we do need people to change the status quo, but in order to generate a positive response in all concerned each person needs to re-evaluate their intention and their perspective.

We need Challengers rather than Persecutors. Challengers provoke action in others by urging them to create or learn something new or make a difficult decision. They do not intimidate or blame. This helps a potential Victim to recognise their ability to create. As a Creator, they stop focussing on the problem and their own anxiety and instead look for solutions.

Even without a change in the Persecutor, however, a change in the Victim’s perspective can turn them into a Creator. It involves objectively evaluating the situation and working out the steps towards a solution.

The Rescuer needs to see the Creator rather than the Victim too. They should show this by supporting them, encouraging them and asking questions to help clarify ideas and solutions rather than solving the problem or ‘saving’ the Victim. As such the Rescuer becomes a Coach.

If we are conscious of how we may create or respond to a difficult situation in the workplace we can begin to take the drama out of it. We can avoid our tendency to persecute others, feel victimised ourselves or rescue others and instead become Challengers, Creators and Coaches.


Human Results offer expert HR services on retainer, or on a one-off basis to help guide you through the daily challenges of managing your business from a people perspective, including employee engagement, dispute resolution and resolving workplace conflict.

We also provide expert leadership development coaching programmes to secure long-term capability within your organisation, and a critical support structure for your leaders.

For more information, call Human Results on 01952 288361 for a no obligation, confidential discussion.

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