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In this podcast Joel and Antonia talk about The Drama Triangle and how we as humans have a tendency to live in one of three roles. A better way to look at these roles is to use something called The Empowerment Dynamic.

In this podcast you’ll find:

  • The drama triangle is something that was written for transactional analysis in which everyone has to fall in a triangle – hero, victim, and villain.
  • Villains – Feel safe by hurting others and pulling them down. For the most part, nobody sees themselves as the villain.
  • Victim – Unable to stand up for self and avoids confrontation. When we don’t believe that we can do anything in a given situation.
  • Hero – Feels good at the expense of others power to take care of themselves. The catalyst for somebody else’s ability to get through something.
  • If you’re the victim, you’re helpless.
  • We see this in family dynamics, movies, stories and basically everywhere.
  • Nobody really needs to be saved, nobody is really the hero who’s going to save them and nobody is a villain that’s making all bad things happen.
  • One of the best antidotes to the drama triangle is another model called empowerment dynamics. This restructures the roles into: Villain – Challenger, Victim – Creator, Hero – Coach.
  • Having a model that serve as a guidance can be very helpful.
  • The coach has the ability to create boundaries and has the ability to say no, emanating empowerment.
  • At every level the drama triangle only produces one thing and that is drama.
  • Creators seek coaches who can help them with their work.

Exercise we recommend in this podcast:

  • Go through 5 of your closest relationships. Take each person’s name and write them in a piece of paper and figure out if you are in a drama triangle with these people. Are you placing yourself in the drama triangle at your own will or are these people putting you in the drama triangle. Observe some patterns emerge. Then, think about how you can empower your relationships.
  • Once you’ve identified your role (victim, villain or hero) how can you empower your character? We want to hear from you. Leave your comments below.


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Showing 3 comments
  • Dana

    I encountered these [overlapping? reframed?] models for drama and empowerment a while ago but hadn’t thought about them much until recently. The way you ‘unpack’ the underlying concepts and draw out examples in your discussion definitely highlights situations that I can identify with. I especially liked Antonia’s example of women authentically complimenting other women. I making an effort to be more intentional with my compliments to friends and co-coworkers.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the comment, Dana! Bravo for taking the initiative to make the world a better place! 🙂

  • Katie

    Have you read the novel, Jane Eyre? When she is a child at school, she makes friends with an amazing girl named Helen Burns. Helen is thoughtful and kind, and also messy and forgetful. There is a teacher at the school, Miss Scatcherd, who has taken it upon herself to reform Helen. She is caustic and petty in the way she does this, which infuriates Jane to no end. She sees Miss Scatcherd as the villain and Helen as the victim.

    Jane confronts Helen at one point and asks why doesn’t she stand up to Miss Scatcherd when she is so cruel to her?

    Helen responds, “She is not cruel. She is severe. She dislikes my faults.”

    Your post reminded me of Helen’s patience and unwillingness to cast Miss Scatcherd in the role of villain. She was ahead of her time.

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