Wellbeing & Health

The Winners Triangle – UPDATED 2022 – A Complete Guide

4 Mins read

Workplace drama is something we encounter in our daily lives in various forms. This type of situation can be harmful to people, workplace relationships, and productivity. A drama triangle represents the destructive roles people play whenever there is a conflict at work. The tricky part about it is that we get sucked into it unknowingly. 

In this post, we talk about the winners triangle which is the opposite of the drama triangle, and how to turn a drama triangle into a winners triangle. 

Winners Triangle – A Complete Guide

The Winners Triangle is a concept introduced by Acey Choy in 1990 which explains how one can convert a drama triangle into something positive and create a win-win situation out of a conflict. A winners triangle has three positive roles corresponding to the drama triangle. To understand these roles, let us first learn in detail about the drama triangle and the winners triangle. 

Understanding The Drama Triangle & The Winners Triangle

The Drama Triangle is also known as a rescue triangle that is formed when people take up and switch roles in situations of conflict and stress. It is exactly what it sounds like – creating stress, drama, and conflict and rescuing people from their responsibility. Being a part of a drama triangle can keep people away from creating a life they want to live. 

The drama triangle is a lose-lose situation for everybody taking part in it. It consists of three roles people generally take in a stressful situation:

Victim – As victims, people feel hopeless, ashamed, powerless, helpless, and unable to make decisions, enjoy work, solve problems, or achieve goals. They seem to attract bad people and situations and feel that something always keeps getting in the way. 

Rescuer – They are the enablers who always want to rescue others. They find value in being needed but they don’t take any action to solve their problems. Rescuers feel good about themselves by helping victims and ignoring their own issues. 

Persecutor – In this role, people feel that the fault is somebody else’s and not theirs. They think they know better and have a right to tell other people what they should do. They are angry, oppressive, rigid, authoritarian, blaming, controlling, and critical. 

Winners triangle

The winners triangle, on the other hand, has three positive roles where the Victim becomes Vulnerable, the Prosecutor becomes Assertive, and the Rescuer becomes Caring. Here are the three roles:

Vulnerable/Creator – These people accept their vulnerability but also understand that they have the abilities to meet their needs and find their way. They ask for help and accept when offered to empower themselves. The most important skill they possess is problem-solving. 

Assertive/Challenger – In this role, people use their time and energy in resolving issues rather than blaming others. They are good problem solvers and always find ways to meet their needs without shaming others. 

Caring/Coach – Rather than imposing the solutions, they show compassion by asking how to help. This empowers the vulnerable to decide what they want and the caring role can learn to listen and allow others to find their way. 

Opposite of Karpman Drama Triangle 

Dr. Stephen Karpman had identified an inside game played commonly in the workplace environment. The Drama Triangle is explained as a social interaction that consists of three dysfunctional personas trapped in an endless cycle of conflict and switching roles without coming to a resolution. The role that people take up depends on their experiences and background and is closely related to how they perceive the world and the people around. 

The Karpman Drama Triangle can be seen in personal and work lives as well as in the biggest organizations. It can be, however, transformed into the winners triangle by breaking the unproductive patterns through self-awareness. When people start understanding the roles they play in any situation and hold themselves accountable for their own thoughts and actions, it is easy to stay out of such dynamics and respond as mature individuals. 

Winners Triangle Scenarios 

To understand how the winners triangle is different from the drama triangle, let us consider a work scenario where a disgruntled manager calls an employee selfish for turning up late again. He takes the role of a prosecutor here. The colleague becomes a victim by giving the excuse of delayed trains for getting late. A co-worker gets in the way and offers to help the late colleague with some work and suggests solutions; he becomes a prosecutor. 

As the discussion goes on, the three people change their roles again and again. Such a pattern can be broken only if the victim accepts the fault and changes his role to transform the drama triangle into the winners triangle. Roles should be changed for empowerment to bring a sustainable solution to the problem instead of blaming one another. Such a change shifts the role of the victim to make him a problem-solver who sees the issues positively. The rescuer supports them by taking the role of a coach, empowering the creator to find solutions themselves. 

The same conversation turns into something fair and assertive. The manager could ask the late employee to have a discussion about being late often. The employee accepts the mistake and conveys his willingness to make changes. The co-worker suggests some solutions and the three can discuss the situation, getting a positive outcome and resolution while avoiding the results of negative behavior. 

Winners Triangle Worksheets

Drama triangles form every day in people’s lives, at home and work. When these situations occur in workplaces, they disturb the environment and hamper productivity and relationships. Winners triangle worksheets are designed to help organizations introduce the framework in the office through role-playing games and activities. Employees get a chance to analyze their roles in different situations and see how they can switch their personas in specific scenarios to create a win-win situation. 

Final Thoughts

Learning how to avoid forming drama triangles can be difficult, particularly when they are initiated by others. However, by learning how to switch roles and choose the right responses, we can influence the behaviors of others and encourage positive patterns around us. We hope this guide helps understand how winners triangle can be introduced in workplace environments for more positive and empowering interactions.

Further Reading

Smart Goal Setting Method
Employee Commitment Strategy
Idiosyncratic Rater Effects

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