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Friends don’t let friends get caught up in workplace drama

Say "no" without guilt and manage conflicts like a pro.

Do you ever find it challenging to say "no" to colleagues without feeling guilty or rude? If so, you're not alone. As high achievers, we often struggle with setting boundaries and managing conflicts at work. The Karpman Drama Triangle can help you break free from this cycle of drama at work. 

So what is the Karpman Drama Triangle? It's is a model of social interaction that was developed by psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Karpman. It describes three roles that people tend to play in conflicts: the Victim, the Persecutor, and the Rescuer.

When we say "yes" to something we can’t realistically do, we become the Victim, feeling powerless and resentful. When we push someone to say "yes" to something they cannot realistically do, we become the Persecutor, making them feel guilty and overwhelmed. And when we take on someone else's responsibilities to spare them from the consequences of their own actions, we become the Rescuer, enabling their dysfunctional behaviour. 

Here's an example you might recognise from Friends: Rachel kept borrowing Monica's things without asking, and Monica was starting to feel frustrated and resentful. The situation was a classic example of the Karpman Drama Triangle, with Monica playing the Victim and Rachel the Persecutor. Monica was unable to set healthy boundaries and say "no" to Rachel's borrowing, and Rachel was unable to empathise with Monica's feelings and respect her boundaries. 

The solution is simple: by communicating honestly and setting boundaries, they could have avoided the drama triangle altogether. They could have found a solution together that respected both of their needs and feelings.

See, setting boundaries doesn't make you a bad friend or poor team player, and saying "no" doesn't have to be confrontational. With grace and compassion, you can set healthy boundaries and avoid unnecessary drama in your relationships. So, how can you say "no" without the drama? Follow these steps: 

1. Start with empathy: When someone asks you to do something, show them that you’ve heard them and express empathy for their situation. 

2. Be clear and specific: When you say "no," you need to be clear and specific about what you can and cannot do. You can also offer alternative solutions.

 3. Practice self-compassion: Saying "no" can be hard, but remember that you have the right to set boundaries and prioritise your own tasks and needs. Practice self-compassion by acknowledging your feelings, reframing negative self-talk, and taking care of yourself.

 4. Follow up: After saying "no," follow up with the person and offer support or feedback. This shows you’re still committed to the relationship and the project, even if you can’t take on the specific task. 

5. Break the cycle: If you notice that an interaction is turning into a drama triangle, try to break the cycle by refusing to engage in the roles. Focus on finding solutions instead of assigning blame or trying to fix the problem for others. 

Remember, it's not about assigning blame or solving problems for others—it's about finding solutions together. If you want to learn more about how to manage workplace drama and set healthy boundaries, join my upcoming webinar you can get your ticket here. 

That's all for this week. I hope understanding the Drama Triangle helps you avoid drama while maintaining positive boundaries at work. Your dream job is possible! 

Have a wonderful weekend, 

Trinity and Andrea 

Views Professional Development


When you're ready, here's how we can help:

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