How to move from Drama Triangle towards Empowerment Dynamic


In TMAP it is all about improve product, process, people. The "improve people" track is not often highlighted. This blog is about improving people.

Some time ago Bijoya Brakenhoff experienced what it is like to land in the situation of a Drama Triangle. At that time, she was not familiar with this concept, but was excited to learn about it. That's why she shares it with you in this Blog.

Some time ago, I experienced what it is like to land in the situation of a Drama Triangle. At that time, I was unfamiliar with this concept, but I was excited to learn about it. That's why I want to share it with you as you might not have heard of it before.

The Drama Triangle is a model that shows 3 roles people often play in tense situations: victim, persecutor, and rescuer.

Victim This person feels helpless and as if they have no control.
Persecutor This role involves blaming others. 
Rescuer They try to help the victim, but sometimes this keeps the victim feeling powerless.

To move away from these roles, you should adopt the Empowerment Dynamic. It changes the roles to:

Victim Creator Be proactive in seeking solutions. 
PersecutorChallenger Challenge others positively. 
RescuerCoach Empower others to find their own solutions.
How to move from Drama Triangle towards Empowerment Dynamic

Let me make it more clear to you with an example: a team is working on a new feature for their application. The deadline is tight, and the team is under pressure.

Drama triangle 

Victim: Developer

Situation: The developer is struggling with a complex piece of code. They feel overwhelmed and believe they don't have enough time or support to complete the task.

Behavior: Complains about the unrealistic deadlines and how they always get the hardest tasks. They express feelings of unfairness and helplessness.

 ⏵ Feels powerless and oppressed, which can lead to a lack of initiative and dependency on others to solve their problems.


Situation: The Product Owner (PO), is focused on meeting the deadline and delivering the feature to stakeholders.

Behavior: Hears the developer’s complaints and reacts harshly, criticizing them for not being competent enough and for always complaining instead of finding solutions. The PO points out that everyone else is managing their workload.

 ⏵ Takes a critical and blaming stance, which can create fear and resentment among team members.


Situation: The Scrum Coach, wants to keep the peace and ensure the project stays on track.

Behavior: Steps in to alleviate the tension. They offer to help the developer with their task and speak to the PO about easing the pressure. The Scrum Coach tries to smooth things over between the victim and the persecutor without addressing the underlying issues of workload management and communication.

⏵ Tries to help and fix the situation but may inadvertently worsen the victim's sense of helplessness and the persecutor's domineering behavior.

Moving away from the Drama Triangle starts with a crucial step: Self-Awareness. It’s essential to recognize when you’re in one of these roles. Ask yourself: Am I feeling like a victim, blaming others as a persecutor, or constantly stepping in as a rescuer? Awareness is the first step towards change. This reflection can be eye-opening, revealing how we unconsciously fall into these patterns in our daily interactions.

Once we’re aware of our role in the triangle, the next step is about understanding that, despite the situation, we have a choice in how we respond. Instead of feeling powerless as the victim, we can choose to seek solutions. Instead of blaming as the persecutor, we can choose to understand and communicate. And instead of rescuing, we can choose to empower and support others in finding their solutions. This shift from a reactive stance to a proactive one means you are moving towards the Empowerment Dynamic.

When moving into the Empowerment Dynamic it is essential to be vulnerable, regarding the role. That is how I broke out of the drama triangle myself and made the first step towards a solution to our conflict. It’s more than just tweaking how you behave; it’s about a whole new way of talking and working together. It started with me being open and willing to change, and that made all the difference.

Let me elaborate on this by continuing the example:

Empowerment Dynamic

Victim → Creator

The developer can seek constructive feedback from their fellow developers, on how to write the complex code, ask the Scrum Coach to help with prioritizing their work, or the PO for clarifications on the requirements and priorities.

Persecutor → Challenger

The PO can make an effort in understanding the perspectives on deadlines, workload, and task distribution of the developers. And ask the Scrum Coach for advice on team dynamics and how to communicate effectively without coming across as overly critical.

Rescuer → Coach

The Scrum Coach can empower the team by facilitating open discussions about workload and deadlines, guiding them to collaboratively find solutions to challenges. The Scrum Coach can encourage team members by promoting a culture of mutual support and clear communication. The Scrum Coach helps the team navigate project pressures more effectively and independently.

As I reflect on my own journey through the Drama Triangle and towards the Empowerment Dynamic, I am struck by the profound transformation that took place within me. This wasn't merely a change in perspective but a significant shift in the way I engaged with my world. It was one of those moments in life that taught me the power of being vulnerable, showing me that opening up and embracing vulnerability can truly make a difference.

This personal transformation has broader implications. When we adopt the Empowerment Dynamic, the impact goes far beyond our individual experiences. It reshapes our interactions in relationships, in the workplace, and within our teams. By moving away from a mindset of blame and helplessness, we cultivate environments of psychological safety, where creativity, accountability, and mutual respect are not just encouraged but thrive. In such settings, individuals feel secure to express their ideas and take risks without fear of negative repercussions. This dynamic isn't simply about switching roles; it's about fostering a culture of empowerment, one that can ripple through every aspect of our social fabric.

In the coming days, I encourage you to embrace vulnerability in your daily interactions. Reflect on moments when you might be playing a role in the Drama Triangle and ask yourself: How can I shift my behavior towards the Empowerment Dynamic? It starts with being open to change within yourself. Practice vulnerability by acknowledging your feelings and challenges, and then consciously choose a role from the Empowerment Dynamic. Notice how this shift in your behavior affects not only your perspective but also your interactions with others!


Published: 21 December 2023
Author: Bijoya Brakenhoff