The Many Faces of the Persecutor
Earlier this week, I (David) was facilitating a live session with a leadership team who wanted to develop more positive and trusting relationships. As part of our eCourse curriculum, we talked about the three roles of the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT). When I asked them to describe their perception of the Persecutor role, they used words like “angry, belligerent, controlling, demanding.” You get the picture. Their description was less than flattering.
The desire to be in control can show up differently depending on the situation. That is why we call it the “many faces of the Persecutor,” all of which are attempting to control the drama in which we are embroiled.
It is common to see others as Persecutors, but the truth is we all slip into the Persecutor role from time-to-time, whether we wish to admit it or not. It is one of the ways we humans try to control uncomfortable situations.
Remember, it’s often easier to identify the Persecutor role in others than it is in ourselves. By becoming more familiar with these “faces,” hopefully you can catch yourself and shift to more constructive ways of relating.
Here are just a few examples of the faces we have observed and how others are affected.
The Sergeant—Micromanages with a “my way or the highway” mentality. Co-workers or family members fear making mistakes and stop thinking for themselves. Opportunities for innovation or new ideas are limited for fear they will run head-on into the Sergeant’s strong opinion of right and wrong thinking.
The Critic—Uses their cranky and critical mood to control the family or work environment. Others walk on eggshells to avoid setting them off. Control is gained because others spend a lot of time and energy paying attention to their criticism.
The Silent One—Uses silence to control and punish by withdrawing and cutting off interaction to control the situation and other people. This creates powerlessness in others as they try to figure how to react to the “silent treatment.”
The Manipulator—May schmooze and relate to others to win their influence. Their motivation is questionable, and they may work hidden agendas. They befriend those who serve their agenda, and shuns those who don’t, creating suspicion and distrust.
The Cynic—Uses misplaced humor and sarcasm as a way of subtly belittling and staying “one up.” This may leave others confused and bewildered on how to react and they often see through the inauthenticity of the satire.
Whatever the “face,” when you live inside the Persecutor role there is a strong desire to control and manage the situation. And, very importantly, these are roles we and other people play when uncomfortable with the situation. This is not who we are as Creators.
The positive alternative to the DDT role of Persecutor is the Challenger in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)®. One way to begin the shift from Persecutor to Challenger is to ask yourself:
What is my intention in this situation? Is it to tear others down and be “one up” and take control? Or is it to build up and help support and improve the situation?
Challengers come from a “learning intent,” to grow, learn, and progress. Whatever face you may take-on when you slip into the Persecutor role, learn to observe your behavior. Tell yourself the truth the best you know how in the moment, then pause, reflect upon your intention, and choose to focus on what there is to learn—for yourself and others.