What pictures come to your mind when you think of the 4th? Houseboats? BBQ’s? Hot dogs in the park? Picturesque sunsets and fireworks lighting up the sky? It’s America’s birthday. Not to be a downer, but some flashbacks are family get-togethers that morph into an opportunity for that one relative to expose and continue the dysfunction of past squabbles. We all have at least one of those drama individuals in the family. If you don’t know who that is, it is you. LOL.
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You know the one. They ruin it for everyone. They create conflict and make themselves the victim so everyone will rescue them. They can’t help it. That is the way they have learned to get their inner needs met. The game begins with someone being the Persecutor. To be a Persecutor, there must be a Victim. Then a Rescuer arrives to save the Victim. This creates a dysfunctional triangle that wreaks havoc on everyone involved and even those that are witnesses to the dysfunction, as well as those 2nd and 3rd party to the roles in the triangle. It’s a vicious cycle that has no end. The Rescuer saves the Victim and becomes the Persecutor. Then the Persecutor becomes the Victim, and the original Victim moves to Rescuer. There is no safe place because once you get trapped in the game, the only place to go is to rotate around the Triangle. There is a name for this: Kartman Drama Triangle.
Uncle Bob is cooking breakfast for the young kids to let the parents sleep in. He’s having a ball making the kids laugh, throwing biscuits across the room, and making smiley face pancakes with tons of extra whip cream and syrup. A memorable moment for the youngsters for sure. A barking dog threatens to wake the entire family on a holiday morning. Bob innocently lets the dog out to do their business in the backyard. Uncle Bob doesn’t expect this would be a problem for anyone. A few moments later, the dog’s owner marches into the kitchen and yells in a scolding parental tone, “Who gave you permission to let my dog out?” The kid’s eyes widen like the plates of syrup before them. They cower in their chairs because they have heard this tone, and it means someone is in trouble.
A typical reaction would be for Bob to defend himself and his actions but he is not 6. Bob knows if he gets sucked into the Drama Triangle, there is no way out. Instead of reacting defensively and negatively to the scolding, he replies friendly and enthusiastically, “So nice for you to join us for breakfast. Would you like an egg and toast?” This pattern interrupt causes the Persecutor’s attempt to short wire, and they are stopped in their tracks dumbfounded by a positive reaction. The persecution is disarmed. The game is ended before it begins and a great example was set for the kids.
The Persecutor was expecting the typical defensive response that was premeditated unconsciously by the Persecutor to create drama asnd eventually lead them into the Victim position for rescue. Being rescued causes this person to feel loved.
This happens in sales all day, every day, and in more situations than we can write about. Think of a SM coaching a salesperson to improve. Think of a prospect that won’t answer questions with integrity and honesty. Think of the prospect who won’t introduce the DM. Think of power plays in corporate with political assignation. Think of a small family business. Think of mergers and acquisitions and protection of fiefdoms.
To avoid being trapped in the game, stay out of the game. Just don’t play. Learn not to react but to respond instead. Remember that every behavior has a possible positive intent, and look behind the behavior to find the positive intent. One of the Core Competencies for Sales and Sales Managers we measure is Staying in the Moment. This is also one of the 5 Most Critical Selling and Sales Management Skills (watch our Sales Leadership Webinar here) required to be effective in sales during a recession. This is the ability to be present in the moment.
In any selling situation, we must be Present. If we think about the past or the future we are listening to ourselves, and that means we cannot listen to the person we are engaged with. We may be thinking about how we are going to spend the commission money. We may be thinking about not being high enough on the internal leaderboard. We may be thinking about how we should deal with this objection or that one. We may be thinking of our plans for the evening or the weekend. Thinking means we are talking to ourselves and therefore, we are listening to ourselves. We can’t listen to ourselves and the person we are engaged with at the same moment. We may feel pressure to defend our pricing, defend our products and services, or defend our company.
When we are not present we are not listening to whom we are engaged with. Therefore, we don’t ask appropriate questions, enough questions, or the right questions. This causes us to be trapped in the Drama Triangle, defending our position.
Summary: For this holiday stay in the moment. Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into the game. Practice with family and friends to become more effective in your sales profession. Pay attention to when you feel the urge to defend. Apply the Drama Triangle to what you observe. Finally, stay out of the games and with AMERICA, Happy Birthday! Freedom is not FREE. One more thing, hug a vet, buy them dinner, send over a cold one when you see a uniform or recognize a tattoo. If not for them our first language may be something different.