AgentIndustry Voices

Breaking free from the drama triangle

By reframing your role in the drama triangle, you can break through and change the agent-buyer dynamic.

If you’re not familiar with Dr. Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle, I can guarantee that you’ve been caught in it, and it’s tough to escape.

We’re all in different situations where we may view ourselves (or be perceived by others) as a victim, a persecutor or a rescuer. These three roles make up the “Drama Triangle”. They are roles we unconsciously play, or try to manipulate other people to play. It happens all the time in a real estate transaction. Once we fully recognize what each of these roles entail, we can prevent ourselves from getting pulled in or regressing into one of the roles on our own.

It starts with the victim

It always starts with the victim. Everything is happening to them and it’s “poor me.” They are extra sensitive and want special treatment from others. They don’t take responsibility for their negative circumstances and feel powerless to change the situation.

To be a victim, you need a persecutor. This can be a person, situation or circumstance. The persecutor criticizes, blames the victim and the implication is “it’s all your fault.”

When the victim encounters a persecutor, they quickly look for a rescuer. They want to be saved. And rescuers need to help other people to feel good about themselves, often neglecting their own needs.

Breaking free

Why do we find ourselves getting caught in the drama triangle? It’s because victims are seeking out saviors, rescuers become enablers and persecutors need a scapegoat. So how can we break free from the dreaded drama triangle?

The Empowerment Dynamic is the way to escape. David Emerald Wolmerdorff has written the book The Power of TED. He creates a new triangle.

  The Victim becomes a Creator

  The Persecutor becomes a Challenger

  The Rescuer becomes a Coach

The creator is focused on the desired outcomes, not the problems. They look at their long-term vision for their life. Most importantly, they take responsibility for initiating these actions.

The creator welcomes a challenger who inspires ideas by confronting their assumptions and the status quo. The challenger’s focus is to help the creator improve, develop new skills, make tough decisions or do whatever is necessary to achieve their vision.

Finally, the creator looks for a coach who asks the right questions to help the individual make informed choices. They make sure the creator is taking full accountability for initiating action.

Now we understand what the Drama Triangle is and that the empowerment dynamic is where we want to find ourselves. So when your buyer continues to lose out on offers and falls into victim mode and then wants to give up because all sellers are against them and the market is too challenging (the persecutors), are you jumping in to be the rescuer instead of their coach helping them to be the creator? Here are the steps on making the transition:

 1. Gain awareness – Acknowledge what role you’re in

 2. Take responsibility for your actions that led to this

 3. Learn to recognize patterns in the Drama Triangle

 4. Set boundaries and proactively withdraw

 5. Choose to play the role of Creator, Challenger or Coach

Making this transformation will result in a profoundly higher quality of life and more fulfilling relationships, both professionally and personally.