Break Free from Workplace Drama

You may have wondered how you can break free from workplace drama. Karpman’s drama triangle, a concept that illuminates the dynamics of interpersonal conflict, helps us see how drama happens in the workplace in the first place. Within this triangle, three roles emerge: the victim, the “bad” person, and the rescuer. At some point in our lives, we’ve all found ourselves embodying one of these roles. Perhaps it’s the “woe is me” victim mentality that creeps in on challenging days. Or it could be the desire to swoop in and rescue someone from their troubles.

But what happens when these roles become a regular part in our daily interactions, causing a whirlwind of drama? When individuals consistently adopt the victim role, avoiding responsibility and relying on others to solve their problems, it creates a breeding ground for tension, conflict, and drama. This is something I have seen many times before. While there are true victims in workplaces, a lot of the time the victim is able to resolve their own conflicts. They just may not want to or know how to.

Understanding the Drama Dynamics

When someone steps in to rescue the victim, it may seem like a compassionate act. However, it often perpetuates the drama by entangling the rescuer in the middle of the conflict. This dynamic feeds into a cycle of dependency and drama. It prevents individuals from taking ownership of their actions and finding proactive solutions. In my experience, there are some personalities that very naturally fall into that role of rescuing.

Shifting from Rescuer to Coach to break free from workplace drama

The key to breaking free from the workplace drama triangle lies in redirecting the victim towards empowerment and accountability. Rather than playing the role of rescuer, individuals can adopt a coaching mindset. Instead of providing solutions, a coach asks probing questions that guides the individual towards self-discovery and action.

In coaching people, I have asked questions like:

  • What evidence do you have that contradicts or supports your belief?
  • What steps have you taken so far to move towards a solution to this issue?
  • What specific outcome are you hoping to achieve?
  • How might others involved perceive the situation differently?
  • What are some alternative ways to view this challenge?
  • Tell me a few assumptions you making about this situation.
  • What beliefs or assumptions might be holding you back from taking action?
  • What are some potential strategies or actions you could take to address this challenge?
  • How might reframing your thoughts or beliefs help you overcome obstacles?

Change their perspective to stop workplace drama

Also, coach individuals to look at the “bad” person with a different perspective. This involves helping them recognize that in most cases, the person is a challenger and not a “bad” person and is likely not out to get them and may have valid reasons for presenting the challenge. By exploring the potential motivations and circumstances behind the challenger’s actions, individuals can gain insight into the situation and approach it with empathy and understanding.

For example, the challenger may have encountered unexpected changes, such as shifting deadlines or new priorities, that have influenced their behavior. By considering these factors, individuals can reframe the challenger’s actions as responses to external pressures rather than personal attacks.

Ultimately, coaching individuals to look at the challenger with a different perspective empowers them to approach conflicts with curiosity and empathy rather than defensiveness. By reframing the situation as an opportunity for growth and learning, individuals can build stronger relationships with their colleagues. Some questions I have used to shift their perspective about the challenger are:

  • How might viewing this person as a challenger rather than an adversary change your approach to the situation?
  • What do you think might be motivating this person’s actions or behavior?
  • What positive intentions might this person have that you haven’t considered?
  • How might their perspective differ from yours, and what insights can you gain from understanding their point of view?
  • What questions could you ask this person to better understand their perspective and concerns?
  • How might reframing this interaction as a challenge rather than a conflict empower you to approach it with confidence and resilience?

Taking Control of Workplace Dynamics

Next time you sense the drama triangle rearing its head in your workplace, pause and reflect on your role within it. If you find yourself slipping into the rescuer role, pivot towards coaching instead. By empowering individuals to help themselves, you not only break the cycle of drama but also foster a culture of collaboration and growth.


In the realm of workplace dynamics, the drama triangle can be a pervasive force, undermining productivity and morale. However, by recognizing the roles we play and consciously choosing to shift towards coaching and empowerment, we can create a more harmonious and effective work environment. Let’s strive to break free from the workplace drama triangle and embrace a culture of accountability, collaboration, and growth.

If you want a head start on understanding personalities to further help determine how to break free from workplace drama, join us for DiSC for Managers training. Training – ThinkSmart Training and Consulting Inc. (

Lisette Jones

For the past eleven years as a consultant and trainer and certified coach practitioner, I've helped hundreds of people just like you overcome chaotic or challenging situations and experience productivity, and engagement. I have experience in many industries and levels of management through my work as a Workplace Education Instructor and Organizational Needs Assessment Consultant trained through the Department of Labour, Skills, and Immigration.

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