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Working with Triangles

This video delves into the dynamics of organizational and familial relationships, emphasizing the impact of triangulation. Focusing on healthy and dysfunctional systems, the author draws parallels between family structures and professional hierarchies, highlighting the pivotal role of effective communication. Triangulation, whether in family or workplace contexts, leads to conflicts and undermines relationships. The narrative discusses the importance of maintaining open communication channels and avoiding gossip or secretive discussions. By exploring examples from family therapy and corporate settings, the video underscores the significance of addressing issues directly with the involved parties. Ultimately, it advocates for breaking unhealthy triangles to foster better team dynamics and organizational success.


Working with triangles. It’s a major source of conflict and dysfunction in friendships, in groups, and in organizations as well. Here’s a healthy family system. You’ve got a grandparent, you’ve got parents, you’ve got children. And there’s a nice relationship here where all three are in communication. Here’s a dysfunctional family system. When the grandparent begins to overparent, or when the child begins to look to the grandparent for what’s important or for what to do and tunes out the parents, like when the grandparent kind of wedges the parents out of the way and tries to create a relationship just with the child, and in a sense, both of them tune the parents out in a dysfunctional family. That weakens the relationship here and actually can create major conflicts there. That’s a very unhealthy triangulation. I was an old family therapist years ago before I started my consulting work, and this is something that I ran into with my clients all the time. And then when I started consulting, I saw the same thing happen. You have a vice president, you have a director, and you have a manager in a healthy system. It works kind of this way. The VP connects with the director. The director connects with her manager. No problems in a dysfunctional organizational system. There’s the VP, here’s the director, and here’s the manager.

But if the manager begins to look to the VP, skips a level, starts to tune out their manager and actually realizes, oh, the real power here, the person I need to really worry about, even though this person may write my fitness reports, this is the person up there that really makes the decisions. I’m not going to pay quite so much attention to my manager. I’m going to create a relationship with her boss boy. That creates some unhealthy triangulation in a system. You can see what happens. It makes it very difficult for the director. It creates problems between the director and the VP and creates problems between the director and the manager. You can see how it could be dysfunctional right away. So a healthy organizational system works this way. The VP works with the director, works with the manager, and the dysfunctional system. You have triangulation, we call it when you talk about somebody. Here’s another example of triangulation. Let’s say that this person, forget about the boss-manager side. Let’s say that this guy has a problem with her. There’s some kind of a breakdown in their relationship now. He doesn’t want to talk to her about it. So he talks about it with his friend. He says, boy, you should see what she’s doing now.

What that does is it makes it very difficult for him to have a friendship with her because of this secret communication going on here. And of course, there’s already a breakdown there. So what you have is you have this unhealthy triangulation that occurs when you gossip with somebody. You know, it’s better to talk to the person if you talk about them. You create this. Now here’s how you break a tie. It’s very simple. Instead of talking about the person, you talk to the person. Pretty simple, sometimes easier said than done. You talk to the person instead of talking about them. And that way, you create a healthy triangle where everybody is on the same page, and you’re not gossiping with this person about this person. I’ll tell you what; most, I think most, I will say this most of the conflict that I get called in to work on in client organizations has some kind of an unhealthy triangle. At the base of it, there’s information that is not being spoken about to the people who need to hear it, or there’s some kind of an unhealthy dysfunction funnel grandparent skipping a generation, skipping a level in the organization, and not respecting the boss. If you can break those triangles, you will see your relationships. You’ll see your teams. You’ll see your organization function a whole lot better.


This insightful video delves into essential survival skills for navigating today’s workplace challenges. Covering skills seven to ten, it emphasizes the importance of developing courage to face challenges (symbolized by “tigers”), mastering cross-functional teamwork, adapting to rapid change, and finding purpose beyond routine tasks. The author encourages readers to view their work as contributing to a larger purpose, urging them to quit a mundane job and discover work that aligns with personal passions and makes a meaningful impact. With a focus on personal development, organizational growth, and effective teamwork, the video provides practical advice for thriving in the dynamic modern workplace.

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