Dealing with Conflict in the Workplace

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After the practical, I realized I could look at conflict from a different point of view – a game of strategy and something to rise above instead of something to just fear. I learnt about ‘The Drama Triangle’ which involves the persecutor, rescuer and victim. The persecutor is someone who only acts in their own interest and plays the dominant role in the drama. Their aim is to punish and they often disregard other people’s feelings to get what they want, i.e. to punish the person they think is to blame. The victim, on the other hand, is someone who is suffering or potentially suffering from the conflict. However, they either do not have the resources to solve their own problem or like to push the responsibility of the problem onto someone else. The rescuer is someone who is concerned for the victim but likes to take over the responsibility of thinking and problem solving. They, intentionally or unintentionally, tend to take on more than their share of their responsibility or do things they do not want to do in order to help other people. As the drama plays out, people can and often change roles (e.g. the rescuer can become fed up and switch to the role of the persecutor). More than one person in the drama triangle can also play the same role. Something important to realize is that there are no winners in the drama triangle, only drama.

In contrast to ‘The Drama Triangle’, ‘The Winners Triangle’ consists of someone who is assertive, someone who is caring and someone vulnerable. Someone who is assertive acts in their own interest by asking for what they want but allows room for negotiation. Someone who is vulnerable is self-aware of their feelings, shows vulnerability but takes responsibility for the problem and is involved in the problem solving. The caring person is concerned for the parties involved but will not take over unless asked and only if they themselves want to help.

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The reason I chose this tutorial is this tutorial felt personal to me as I am experiencing some conflict currently in my life. From this tutorial, I realized I often played the role of the victim/ rescuer in the drama triangle which was affecting my wellbeing. Being able to understand there was such a thing as ‘The Winner’s Triangle’ was an eyeopener. I realized I needed to be more assertive by being more confident in myself. I realized unconsciously due to past experiences, I stopped telling people when they made me uncomfortable to avoid potential conflict and was in the mindset of “I just have to suck it up”. It made a lot of sense to me when the drama triangle and the people in the drama triangle were described to be like a pig wallowing in mud who is doing their best to beckon you into the drama to fuel it. And it is difficult but not impossible to rise above it by staying in the winners triangle.

Inability to deal with conflict not only affects a person’s working life, it also affects their personal life and well-being. It often leads to miscommunication, disrupting relationships between colleagues and also with clients. It may also break relationships irreparably. In a veterinary setting, a person who plays the role/ persecutor/ victim would not take responsibility for their mistakes. They either blame it on someone or something else (e.g. the lack of cooperation from other people, the working conditions etc.). The victim role would think ‘Why me? Why does everything happen to me?’ and think because they cannot solve the problem, they will not even try. Either of these roles will not learn from their mistakes and will not progress far into their career. It also impairs their ability to self-reflect which is a day one competency for vets. A rescuer who takes on too much at any one time might quickly find themselves exhausted which is not great for their well-being. All the roles in the drama triangle impairs a veterinary surgeon’s ability to work. One of the examples discussed during my tutorial was when a fellow employee was isolated from work opportunities in the vet clinic.

Trying to avoid conflict by enduring it will only cause people to think they can walk all over you and make it difficult for the situation to stop. Not standing up to them / seeking help from elsewhere allows the bullying culture to perpetuate. It is not easy and may not always be the obvious thing to remember when we are in the middle of a conflict, but we are never alone and there are always people or organisations like VetLife and the Veterinary Defence Society should we need them. We are seldom alone – something I need to remember to bear in mind!

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Dealing with Conflict in the Workplace. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 19, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/dealing-with-conflict-in-the-workplace/
“Dealing with Conflict in the Workplace.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/dealing-with-conflict-in-the-workplace/
Dealing with Conflict in the Workplace. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/dealing-with-conflict-in-the-workplace/> [Accessed 19 May 2024].
Dealing with Conflict in the Workplace [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2024 May 19]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/dealing-with-conflict-in-the-workplace/
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