Handling Colleague Related Stress -Part I

Back by popular demand, part one of a two part series by Michael McElhenie, PhD: Handling Colleague Related Stress.

Handling Colleague Related Stress -Part I

by Michael McElhenie PhD, Senior Associate Dynamic Results

Handling Colleague Related StressIn every workplace and culture, we see that difficult social situations are major causes of workplace stress. Though it may seem that this stress comes from certain difficult people, we observe that everyone involved can have certain relationship patterns that contribute to this stress. Every one of us has some potential for very effective as well as some extremely counter-productive behavior patterns.

Based on the work of Stephen Karpman, the left triangle in the following diagram illustrates three types of “difficult people” and the kind of drama they exhibit in relating to their life challenges. 

We believe that to successfully deal with such behaviors, the solution must start with someone taking personal responsibility for finding a way to restore focus, and we’re suggesting that this person is you.

In learning to recognize these dramas, you are on your way to becoming part of the solution. We firmly believe that the only behavior anyone can change is their own. So, as opposed to trying to change the other person’s attitude, why not shift your pattern and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome? In changing your role, you open up to more effective ways of relating to others.

Putting your relationships on a new footing may require some changes in your own behavior. Should this be the case and you need a starting point, here are two suggestions:

Always observe impartially what’s happening, both internally and externally. This creates distance. Distance increases awareness, and increased awareness gives you leverage. Manifest this leverage by participating in a simple, direct and non-confrontational way.

Stay objective and keep your focus on the issues; stay far away from the charted behaviors and always model the behavior you want to see in others.

In our next issue, we will outline more of the functional aspects of working through these dramas.

Michael McElhenie PhD
Senior Associate

Michael is a Senior Associate with Dynamic Results and is also the co-creator with Henry Evans, Managing Partner with Dynamic Results of the Retention Edge our 21st century executive assessment tool that uses behavioral interviews and our statistically validated assessments of work-related personality traits and key leadership competencies to help you recruit and retain top talent.


Remove the drama triangle from your organization. Learn how by reading our book.

Winning with AccountabilityWant to know more about creating accountable cultures? Take our free assessment and buy the book here.

As always, we welcome your comments. Join us on facebook to share your experiences or email us at [email protected].

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *