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Brain Food with Ken Keller - Do you have a 'drama triangle' at work?
Ken Keller web
Ken Keller

      In 1968, Dr. Stephen Karpman described the "drama triangle" in his article "Fairy Tales and Script Drama Analysis."
The article discusses human interaction and the various roles that people assume in their lives.
      There are three roles in the triangle. The first is that of victim; the second is rescuer; and the third is persecutor.
      Why is any of this a concern to a business owner? The owner, along with employees, clients, vendors and prospects each take on a role depending on the situation, feelings, stress level, position, role, title and responsibility level.

      The owner of any business is by default the leader and cares more about certain aspects of the company than anyone.
Owners focus on reducing costs, taking care of clients, adding new clients, cash flow, inventory, profit, new product development, strategic relationships, improving the performance of people and caring about things when no one else seems to care.
      To achieve these goals, the owner must be a persecutor. The owner is the one who initiates difficult discussions, decides who to do business with and who not to; decides who gets added to the payroll, who stays in the company and who gets terminated; what gets sold; what the priorities are and forces change on an organization whether the change is welcome, understood, wanted or not.
      The persecutor blames, criticizes, gets mobilized by anger and usually takes an authoritative stance. The persecutor believes it is always someone else's fault.
      The owner is the persecutor of all things related to processes, people, growth and execution.
      An owner who relishes in the role of persecutor does not always build respect or trust in an organization. Letting
people go, for example, may not be a pleasant responsibility, but that does not mean it has to be enjoyable.

      Owners can also play the role of rescuer.
      A good example of this is the owner who tries to save the employee who is constantly underperforming. The owner feels guilty if he or she doesn't make some sort of effort to "save" the person.
      Often an owner will rescue someone even when the employee doesn't want to make the effort. What this does is keep the employee dependent. But the owner tries over and over in his or her attempts, all the while knowing that the employee will ultimately fail. The owner actually cares more than the employee does.

      Most owners will never admit to being a victim, but their attitudes, behaviors and words say otherwise.
      For those who have made excuses, blamed others for things not their fault, complained about others, repeated activities and behaviors that were ineffective, "tried" to do something knowing it would fail before even starting, believed that "something has to be done" or put problems on someone else - you have practiced the behavior of a victim.

      The only way to stop being a victim is to become a creator. Creators seek solutions; they understand that they have the ultimate tool to get out of a bad situation and move forward by using their experience, intellect, expertise, connections and willpower.
      The process starts by accepting responsibility for the current situation, and for anything that happens going forward.
This means "owning" the problems. But it continues beyond owning to taking action, doing new and different things, making a commitment and following through.
      Creators use the word "I" and do not use the words "they," "you" or "we." By doing this, creators take control of the choices they have made for their businesses and their lives.
      1929 was the year of the great crash of the stock market, which ultimately led to the Great Depression. President Herbert Hoover took on the role of victim. "Hooverville" homeless camps sprouted up across the country.
      In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt became president and said to his team: "One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment ... If it doesn't turn out right, we can modify it as we go along."
      As the owner of a business, if you find yourself acting and believing that you are a victim to change, for yourself, your family, your employees, your vendors and your clients - you have a responsibility to change.
       Ken Keller is president of STAR Business Consulting Inc., helping top executives make better decisions. He can be reached at (661) 645-7086 or


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