Victims, Villains & Heroes: A Workplace Drama

November 29, 2012

During the recent IAC meeting in San Diego, HR specialist, author, speaker, and founder of, Don Phin conducted a daylong workshop on “The Inspired Workforce”.

One of the segments that definitely got everyone’s attention was entitled “Victims, Villains & Heroes in the emotional drama of the workplace.” As Don explained,everyone from management to staff falls into various emotional traps that result in dysfunctional performance due to the role or roles they play.

The victim engages in destructive drama blaming others for their difficulties.  They feel that they have no voice, no control and are not understood, resulting in a feeling that the company lacks loyalty towards them.  The villain, on the other hand, appears to be uncaring and the emotions can be triggered when others fail to meet the villain’s expectations.  The hero is definitely caring, but falls into the trap of over-commitment and is viewed negatively by others when offering unsolicited advice.

Unfortunately, people don’t necessarily fall into a singular category, but can assume any of the three roles at various times according to circumstance.

During the workshop, Don explained the emotional energy related to each of the three categories and provided tools to help everyone better manage the energy.  To illustrate how to best manage communication between victims, villains, and heroes, Don put the group through a 40/40 exercise that showed the best way to engage in dialogue that would defuse the situation and enable everyone to move out of emotional paralysis into constructive performance.  A separate blog and video highlights the 40/40 exercise and explains how both parties can move into the hero role.

If you’re not sure if you have this drama going on in your workplace, just consider the following questions:

·     Do you agree the workplace is overrun with a victim mentality?

·     Do you sometimes find yourself feeling life at work “isn’t fair?”

·     Have you ever tried to help someone, but despite your efforts, that person never “gets it?”

·     Do you find yourself “owning” other people’s problems?

·     Do you get worn down from playing the hero role?


More information on this concept is available in Don’s book “Victims, Villains and Heroes”, which can be found at

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