About interpersonal triangles at work

This week’s video talks about someone who is good at keeping the peace. She gets caught in a triangle between two squawking co-workers. We identify the situation as a case of triangulation because, instead of dealing with each other, the arguing coworkers deflect their responsibility by pulling a caring colleague into the mix.

That’s one kind of triangle. There are many more that we can easily be pulled into. For example, have you ever had someone confide about the way a certain colleague gets on their last nerve? Instead of approaching the culprit, your workplace friend complains to you. Or, has your boss ever asked you to “take care” of another employee who’s unable to carry his or her weight? Again, you become trapped in a triangle where you rescue your floundering colleague instead of the boss and that under-performing employee working out the problem themselves.

Triangles can be hard to spot immediately. And, if you’re a very capable person, it can be tempting to step into a triangle with the intent of helping out. But there’s very little to win.

My best advice is to become at triangle vigilante. If you notice someone trying to recruit you as third party, carefully step away. Encourage the two original parties to work their differences out. Sometimes silence is golden.

One Response to “About interpersonal triangles at work”

  1. Neville Bean

    I have worked with with 3 different married business partners over the years. This triangle can be very tricky. With one couple, I became very good friends with both and when they argued, they would try to draw me in. It took diligence to maintain neutrality.

    Reply

Leave a Reply