It Takes Three to Tango! Exposing The Three Roles of Drama

Posted on July 18, 2015 by Nate Regier / 0 comments
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It takes three to tango! In other blogs I’ve written about Karpman’s Drama Triangle and the three roles that people play to perpetuate the negative conflict of drama. I’ve proposed a working definition of drama. Now it’s time to expose the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors associated with these roles. The purpose of this post is to help trainers, leaders, and other change agents identify when drama is occurring in order to stop it.


Attitude: Because you are the problem, it’s OK for me to use fear, intimidation, guilt, and manipulation to get you to do what I want.

Belief: “I’m OK, You’re not OK.”

Behaviors: Verbally attacking others for being lazy, stupid, uncommitted, unorganized; blaming; manipulation; giving ultimatums; coercion.


Attitude: I will feel hurt and personalize the behavior of the Persecutor and Rescuer because I don’t deserve to be treated with dignity. Maybe I can get what I want when people feel pity for me or try to save me.

Belief: “I’m not OK, You’re OK.”

Behaviors: Withdrawal, making silly mistakes, avoiding conflict, lack of assertiveness, self-doubt.


Attitude: Because I know best, I need to help you and you would be better off if you took my advice. I can get what I want by inviting you to let me do the thinking and doing for you.

Belief: “I’m OK, You would be OK if you accepted my help and were grateful.”

Behaviors: Offering unsolicited advice, meddling, withdrawing support to “toughen people up,” unrealistic expectations.

All of us play one or more of these roles when in drama, and do it on a daily basis. In this dysfunctional dance of drama every role needs the others to keep the drama going. Do you recognize yourself? Your peers? Your clients? Your boss?

Great leaders see drama a mile away and choose not to play. They develop alternative ways of influencing excellence.

HelpWriteNextBookWe are developing this is a concept in our new book, Compassionate Accountability. What’s your perspective? Will you share your comments?


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Verbally attacking; criticizing people for being stupid, uncommitted, lazy; blaming; manipulating; giving ultimatums.

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