Conquering Blame, Valuing Differences plus Personal Stories of Inequity Concludes
CONQUERING BLAME WITH ED GUROWITZ
"We are hardwired as human beings to be victims because we are hardwired to scan our environment for threats, for something that’s going to happen to us. If you look at it in terms of inclusion, inclusionary leadership requires a relationship that allows for inclusion, and that allows for appreciation of differences. The Karpman Triangle does not allow for inclusion or appreciation of differences, because here differences are simply proof that there is something wrong." Ed Gurowitz, Co Founder of the Gender Leadership Group.
Today we share a talk by Ed entitled, Conquering Blame took place at the Better Man Conference 2017. He discusses the victim-persecutor-rescuer dynamic and the alternative in support of inclusionary leadership.
This is the part of the program I was most excited about. It has a lot to do with my own life experience and the way in which this subject speaks to almost everyone one, coaches, or all the people in one’s life. A coach of mine described this whole aspect as the triangle that’s known as the “victim-persecutor-rescuer” triangle.
It’s designed by a fellow that Ed has worked with, and Ed’s going to come up and give us a presentation. He was one of the very early people to research this phenomenon with Dr. Steve Karpman. It’s called the Karpman Triangle. It’s what he originated, he’s a founding partner of the Gender Leadership Group, he’s the Chair Elect of the Mankind Project, USA, and he’s been in the field of organizational transformation for over forty years. Here it is, this is the session on the Karpman Triangle, and the way in which all of our lives revolve around this victim-persecutor-rescuer. So, here’s Ed Gurowitz.
As soon as I walk on stage, my phone rings, I thought I had it turned off. But I don't want to talk to this person. Anyhow, in 1965, a psychiatrist here in San Francisco, named Eric Berne, published a book that, in retrospect, (what is it, 50+ years later?) had an amazing impact considering it was just a very small book by somebody very few people had ever heard of. It was called Games People Play. In it, Eric Berne described a dynamic in human interactions that basically prevented people from being authentic, prevented people from being intimate, and he called it“games”.
IT COMES DOWN TO THREE ROLES - THE PERSECUTOR, SOMETIMES CALLED THE VILLAIN; THE RESCUER, SOMETIMES CALLED THE HERO, AND THE VICTIM
Well, there was another psychiatrist working with Eric Berne, in fact, there were four people who were the founders of this; after Berne there were three (more). One of them was Steve Karpman. You see that picture next to him, that’s Eric Berne, my son is named after him. Steve was a student of drama and theatre, and he looked at Berne’s theory of games and he said, “There’s something really interesting here, because if you analyze almost every drama – it’s easiest to see with Shakespeare – it comes down to three roles." The persecutor, sometimes called the villain; the rescuer, sometimes called the hero, and the victim. Where the drama comes, and Berne had said this in his theory of games, is when those roles switch. So, Othello is the victim, Desdemona is the persecutor, Lago is the rescuer and Othello’s best friend, and then it all changes, and that’s where the drama comes from.
Steve published this in 1978, and shortly after that, I began to look at what are the energy changes that go with the roles. Because roles are just roles, they’re static, but there have to be energy changes. In 1980 I published an article on this and have been looking at it ever since. The thing that I realized is that what holds the drama triangle together is blame; as long as the victim can blame someone. Sometimes, it’s other people, sometimes it’s the circumstances; you’ve heard the expression “Victim of Circumstances." Sometimes it’s even myself, “There’s something wrong with me, I'm fundamentally flawed, and that’s why I'm a victim."
The victim says, “It’s not my fault, it’s your fault, it’s his or her fault, or it’s the fault of the circumstances." The persecutor says, “It’s your fault, there’s something wrong with you." And the rescuer says, “Oh, it’s not your fault, it’s his or her fault, or it’s the circumstances. Don't feel bad."
THE VICTIM HAS ALL THE POWER
If you look at the energetics of this, it’s pretty interesting, because the victim has all the power. That’s why Steve drew this triangle with the victim on the downhill point, because all energy flows to the victim. Think of someone in your life who’s a victim, who plays the victim card, and think of the energy suck that’s there if you try to rescue them. Berne said the classic rescue game is called, “Why Don't You – Yes But."
“Why don't you try this?”
“But that will never work."
“Why don't you try that?”
“But I tried that once and it didn't work."
THE KARPMAN TRIANGLE DOES NOT ALLOW FOR INCLUSION OR APPRECIATION OF DIFFERENCES, BECAUSE HERE DIFFERENCES ARE SIMPLY PROOF THAT THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG
And pretty soon the rescuer is exhausted, and here comes the drama now. The victim says, “See, you can't help me," and the victim becomes a persecutor that dances around and around and around. Why is this relevant to what we're talking about here? Well, first of all it’s relevant to everything in life. As Jan said, “This is a fundamental compelling dynamic of being human." We don't have time, and I won't bore you with it, but if you look at the neuropsychology of this, we are hard wired as human beings to be victims because we are hardwired to scan our environment for threats, for something that’s going to happen to us. If you look at it in terms of inclusion, inclusionary leadership requires a relationship that allows for inclusion, and that allows for appreciation of differences. The Karpman triangle does not allow for inclusion or appreciation of differences, because here differences are simply proof that there is something wrong.
Now, if you put three people in a room, you’re going to see this happen within half an hour, it’s that compelling. I began to think about, some years ago, what’s the alternative, what do we do about this, because no matter what you think ...this is like one of those finger puzzles, the harder you pull to get out of it, the tighter it gets. It has that quality to it of being stuck in it. I'm either a victim, or I'm going to be the persecutor and blame the victim, or I'm going to try and be the rescuer and try and help the victim. No matter what happens, I end up the victim.
I realized that it requires a whole different construct. You can't get there from here. You know a little story, I used to live in New England, a guy drives up to a village in Maine, there’s a fellow sitting down on the porch, and he asks, “How do you get from here to Brunswood?” The old guy says, “Well, you go down .... no, that won't work. Well, you go down that ..., no, that won't work.” Finally he says, “You know what, you can't get there from here."
SO, WHAT'S THE ALTERNATIVE? IT STARTS WITH OWNERSHIP
So I began to look at what’s the problem. Well, it’s hierarchical and its exclusive. The victim is less capable and needs help, the persecutor is more capable and is in the right, and the rescuer is more capable and occupies the higher moral ground. So what’s the alternative? I'm going to suggest to you that there is an alternative, and it goes like this. It starts with ownership.
TO BE CONTINUED…..
Question & Answer Session in Pt. 5 Personal Stories of Inequity
To wrap up our blog series entitled Personal Stories of Inequity, we share with you a video of the question and answer session with the four people who shared their stories during a talk entitled Sharing Our Truths: Intersectional Stories and Perspectives at the Better Man Conference 2017.
If you missed any of the Personal Stories of Inequity blog entry interviews, you can find the full series below:
Part 1 Personal Stories of Inequity - Our host, Sumayyah Emeh-Edu, Gender Leadership Group's Diversity and Inclusion Strategist invites special guest, Carin Taylor, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Innovation at Genentech to tell her personal story of inequity.
Part 2 From "Covering" to Feeling "Safe" - Noni Allwood, a Latin corporate executive specializing in optimization strategies for diverse talent and strategic business operations shares that she was "covering" or concealing who she was due to fear of not being accepted when she started her career here in the states. She then goes on to tell an inspiring story of an ally who supported her in advancing her career.
Part 3 Being Hearing Impaired, Microagressions and More - Joe Vasquez, Co-Director at Runway Incubator shares his stories and lessons of struggle with microaggressions as a hearing impaired Latino in the mainstream and corporate world. He discusses the importance of the variety of accessible gateways of expression, including art, and how they allowed him to fully reveal his perspectives to others. Through his experiences, Joe has developed a passion for helping entrepreneurs and corporations to innovate more support, love, and value in the workplace. Despite his hearing impairment, Joe has also learned how to be a male ally.
Part 4 From "I Quit" To Success - Myra Nawabi, a female refugee from a royal family in Afghanistan shares her story of fleeing her country to America as a young child in search of a brighter, bigger future only to find herself quitting on her dream of becoming an astronaut due to negative influences and sexist comments before eventually creating a successful career at Lockheed Martin Space Systems where she is now Senior Project Engineer & Program Manager for Advanced Technology Center. She is also Founder of the largest and most active LeanIn Circle in the US (Palo Alto). She credits much of her success due to her experience with a male ally or mentor.
The #MeToo movement and stories have inspired people to share stories of and have brought new awareness to just how rampant sexual assault is. Hearing stories helps those seemingly unaffected or those who aren’t aware of the issues at hand become aware, compassionate, empathetic and/or use their privilege to help make positive change. It is in this spirit that we invited 4 individuals to engage in #storypower by sharing their stories of inequity and/or lack of inclusion at the Better Man Conference earlier this year for a panel entitled, Sharing Our Truths: Intersectional Stories and Perspectives. The transcript and recording above is an excerpt from that Sharing Our Truths panel that was hosted by Sumayyah Emeh- Edu, Gender Leadership Group's Diversity and Inclusion Strategist.
Better Man Conference 2017 Recap Report
We are proud to share this recap report from the Better Man Conference 2017 as just last month, 200+ leaders and many great diverse speakers and panelists, both men and women came together to be a part of the movement to engage men as inclusionary leaders at the Better Man Conference 2017. This year we grew in both quantity and quality. That’s due to your involvement. We thank each and every attendee, speaker, sponsor, marketing partner, and supporter for being such an important part of the men's inclusionary leadership movement. See the recap report here.