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We all know the drama agents: they suffer, exult, despair, rejoice. Some days they sweep into the office, other days they lurch about with endless complaints about clients and the business. These agents can be oh-so helpful in the beginning of a client relationship, but when the drama agent creates a Drama Triangle, the break downs can be ugly and painful for everyone involved.
The Drama Triangle was defined by psychologist Steven B. Karpman in 1968 and has been an essential element of inter-personal and corporate training ever since.
The Drama Triangle Participants
The Persecutor abuses power over another by knowing better.
The Rescuer abuses power by “saving” instead of empowering others.
The Victim/Martyr abuses power by claiming to be powerless, therefore not accountable or responsible.
Participants in these Drama Triangles change roles often, even in a single conversation. The challenge for the unwilling participants is staying centered, rather than drawn into the drama.
Many real estate agents are proud to be professional "problem solvers" and that's good when it's a quick transaction. But when listings last months or even years, when buyers shop for months and deals are difficult to close, sometimes our worst personal traits emerge and take over. In real estate it's usually the "Rescuer" type who accelerates normal difficulties into major challenges that only the Rescuer can solve, but simultaneously uses the sledge-hammer of Victim-hood to compel people to recognize his worth and contributions.
For example, last month when a seller's attorney and I walked into late Friday afternoon closing the buyer's agent pushed her chair back and loudly announced "we have a major problem": at the walk-through, they lifted the phone receiver and...and...wait for it...the ATT service was still on. Why hadn't it been turned off so ATT could come on Monday to set up internet service? AND she wanted proof that Nicor had visited the property to examine the supposedly defective meter. AND they couldn't find the manuals for the appliances... AND ... AND ...her buyer and her buyer's attorney squirmed.
The seller's attorney muttered "you handle her" and left the room....I couldn't blame him, it was late in the day, this should have been an easy-peasy closing and she still going at it.
Throughout the transaction this agent repeatedly found and then "fixed" problems for her clients. She found mold that was really ink marks in attic rafters, used the worst home inspector ever (but didn't attend the inspection), didn't explain "relo=as-is" to the buyer, declared a "clear to close" 3 days before the underwriter and asked for pre-possession. In addition to violating license law at every turn, she created constant rounds of agitation between the buyer, the attorneys, me and my already-relocated seller.
I can see why it took her 2 years to find these people a house (yes, they were relatives) and get them to the closing table. I had to deliberately fend off her Drama Triangles for six straight weeks to get the deal done, but I could feel myself slipping more than once. I myself was prone to this behavior during a difficult time in my personal life. Looking back, it was a combination of therapy and real estate coaching that taught me how to manage myself and other dramatists in the business.
Many people who live in a series of Drama Triangles experienced abusive childhoods or abusive personal relationships in early adulthood. The deeply insecure person who swings from Victim/Martyr to Rescuer to Persecutor is the engine of a Drama Triangle.
In a Drama Triangle there is always a scapegoat: the "banksters", the "fraudsters", the evil-doers at Zillow....the list is endless for the person who craves the Drama Triangle. The phone company, the Democrats, the appraisers, the REO agents, the Yankees, the Mexicans....there is always someone who can be publicly castigated for the evils of the world.
Facebook and blogging are prime venues for the dramatist who craves excitement, sympathy and recognition. But as we've all seen, any dissension when the dramatist is entrenched in full-scale victim hood is tricky. If you are a Rescuer and have agreed and soothed too many times but then disagree even once? The Victim become a Persecutor and the next attack could be directed at you, pushing you into your own Victim role if you're not careful.
The Victim-Persecutor-Rescuer cycle is powerful but it can be prevented or at least managed. Whether it's the agent on your team who is the "crap magnet" or the client who pulls you in, sucks you down and wants to keep you there with him, you can learn to keep boundaries around your "self" to stay healthy and sane.
There are hundred of articles and studies on this subject. A few references if you're interested:
Rich Casto: The Real Estate Coaching Company Training with Rich in 2008 and 2009 changed my business and my life. It's where I first heard about the Drama Triangle and "pop", the light bulb went on...and stayed on. Thanks, Rich.
This post was written by Leslie Ebersole of Baird & Warner Real Estate. Use or reproduction of the material published on this site is expressly prohibited without the express written permission of the author.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.