Denial Doesn’t Stop the Backstabbing – Denial Stops Productivity
Are you ignoring the backstabbing and drama in your office? Do you walk away from conflict instead of facing it? Are you afraid to look at your sales report for the last quarter? Perhaps your staff is on the Drama Triangle. What’s worse, you are also on it but you just don’t know it.
The Drama Triangle is a model developed by Dr. Stephen Karpman that can be used to quickly assess behaviors that are creating dysfunction at work. The model looks like an upside down triangle and the positons on the points of the triangle are victim, rescuer and persecutor, with victim taking the bottom point.
The three positions, or roles indicate behavioral and emotional responses to interpersonal and intrapersonal conflict. The patterns show up at home or at work.
If you manage or supervise people, you have already seen it all: The Victim complains and makes excuses, the Rescuer tries to fix it, and the Persecutor comes running to the office to tattle. It’s paridoxical that sometimes the managers can identify everyone else on the triangle but doesn’t see their own role.
Here’s a clue that you are on the triangle: If you are experiencing upsets, stress or otherwise painful interactions, if you don’t know how to deal with your staff and their problems, then you too are on the triangle!
“But I know I am not a victim or a rescuer” I can hear you saying. Perhaps that is true.
You may not be ON the trigngle but you are IN the triangle. You are smack dab in the center of the triangle, the fourth position that we call denial.
Denial is what happens when you don’t acknowledge what is going on around you. An easy illustration of denial is to take a personal example: Your spouse says, “We’ve got problems and we need to talk,” and your response is, “I don’t have any problem. The problem is yours. Everything is fine, as far as I’m concerned.”
However,if you are a part of the relationship (assuming you want to continue the relationship) and the other person thinks the two of you have problems, then either someone is delusional or someone else isn’t paying attention. Either way, you’ve still got problems. Denying that the problem exists creates a sense of safety, by believing that if you stick your head in the sand the problem will go away.
So what does this have to do with business? Lots.
Here’s how it shows up in the business world. An employee finally gets the courage to approach a supervisor to tell the supervisor that she doesn’t like his yelling and ranting. The supervisor says, “I’m not yelling. It’s only your perception.” Or, the accountant notices discrepancies in the bookkeeping but knows that adjusting it means that no one gets the bonus. Or as a manager you know that one employee has been harassing the other employees, yet the one you have to discipline is the one who brings in all the sales, so you make exceptions. Avoiding the issue is a way to avoid taking responsibility to change the problem.
What you don’t know or acknowledge about yourself or your business will hurt you, yet coming out of denial is also very painful. Just think back to a time when someone told you something about yourself (or your business) that you didn’t know or didn’t like, for example, you interrupt, you are not a good listener, or your customer service stinks.
There are many theories about the dynamics of denial regarding relationships and personal growth. David Hawkins, Ph.D. in his book Power Versus Force, says that denial comes from pride. Hawkins says that most people are more attached to being right about their situation, than they are committed to facing the truth of their situation. (You’ve probably heard the Proverb “Pride goeth before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction.”)
My theory is that coming out of denial is painful because it is like awakening after a surgery. As long as you are under the anesthetic, the surgeon can cut through your skin and sew you back up and you don’t feel a thing. But, you can’t stay asleep forever. Eventually you have to come out of the anesthetic (denial) and face the pain.
Recently I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Karpman to get his insights to my theory. Dr. Karpman added that when a person comes out of surgery and off of the anesthesia and experiences pain, it takes lots of support to help that person while he heals. The same is true when someone is ready to step out of denial and face the facts. Staying under the anesthetic of denial is a way to avoid the inevitable pain.
Although coming out of denial is painful, there’s a price to pay for ignoring the facts, or from not being willing to investigate. Whether in your business or in your personal life, denial serves as a way to hide from the facts so that you can avoid responsibility.
Marlene Chism is a consultant and speaker working nationally with companies and associations to help them “Stop the Drama,”so that they can become productive and reach their potential. To visit the web go to http://www.attitudebuilders.com or call 1. 888.434.9085 for more information.