Triangles, Tangles and Blocks - Oh No! (Part One)

Many organizations don’t recognize them. Those that do spot them don’t do well at fixing them. Triangles, Tangles and Blocks side-swipe energy, blur focus, and strangle change.

If they take a stranglehold on your company, you won’t move. They grow with vague, un-prioritized goals, fuzzy communication, and an overwhelmed workforce. Best is to fix the root cause, but in the meantime, these steps can help to clear things up and create a healthier workplace.

Triangles can expand until they take up most of the energy in the workplace.

Triangles can expand until they take up most of the energy in the workplace.

Today's blog is about TRIANGLES, common strategies used by people who feel victimized. Those who feel threatened by change create triangles to gather support for their own inaction. 

This is how it works: Somebody (a sister-in-law or boss) or something (e.g. the government) acts like a bully or is perceived as acting as such. The Victim feels overwhelmed, unable to respond, and so adopts the role of helpless victim, in which he feels mistreated and misunderstood.

The triangle forms when the Victim, who is reacting to and blaming the Bully, is rescued by the Hero, who plays the Good Guy. The Hero’s role is to listen, perhaps sympathize, and probably try to to fix the situation.  

They sound like this: “I can’t help it.” “It’s not fair.” “I didn’t know.” “They won’t let us.” “Look what they are doing to us.” Sound familiar?

They sound like this: “I can’t help it.” “It’s not fair.” “I didn’t know.” “They won’t let us.” “Look what they are doing to us.” Sound familiar?

How to Break A Triangle

1. Firmly, with kindness, stop the Victim. Rescuers must develop a mindset of “do not do anything for people over the age of 18 that they should be doing for themselves.”  

2. Don’t debate with the Victim or try to convert him. That’s not your job. All you need to do is to stop listening. “That might be true, but let’s focus on what will work.” “No offense, but it’s getting old talking about what’s wrong and what won’t work. There’s a lot we can do. Let’s talk about that.”

3. Create a zero-tolerance policy. Victims will find the last remaining rescuer. We thought that one company with which our team worked was successful at a zero-tolerance campaign, until we noticed that a supervisor of the payroll department was very popular. Many employees dropped into her office during the day. Others marveled at her leadership ability and the magnet that she was for the team. Closer inspection revealed that she was the last rescuer and was enabling all the Victims in the department. Only when the triangle was exposed and she was stopped did morale improve.

Good luck, get agreement and Be Strong.