Today’s guest is Donna Zajonc, MCC, she joins us to explore the concepts and roles within  drama triangle and the importance of empowering rather than rescuing our coaching clients.  Donna starts out by explaining her journey from the drama of rescuing towards healthy dynamics in her own relationships. Listen in as she explains how to stop rescuing and start coaching.

Donna and her husband, David Emerald, author of The Power of TED*(*The Empowerment Dynamic) work together at The Power of TED* and teach the concepts from this work around the world.  Donna, who has fifteen plus years as a professional coach, had to recognize that she was in a pattern of habitual pleasing and accommodating.  Becoming aware of this pattern motivated her to make the shift away from rescuing to empowering.  She is able to use her awareness of her past patterns and behaviors to teach others healthier, more productive roles.

In today’s interview, Donna shares her family and professional history.  She initially studied nursing and then immediately went into psychiatric nursing. Her job was to diagnose, treat, help and please. She became interested in Health Care and ran for the Oregon Legislature and served several terms in Partisan politics. It was only a few years ago that she realized that her motivation in running for politics was to fix the other politicians- possibly even to fix the whole world.  As her children grew up and had some issues with substance abuse she realized through working with Al-Anon and addressing her co-dependency, that her rescuing and pleasing tendencies were in evidence there too. Listen in to find out more about this concept and about why diagnosing and fixing is really not coaching!

Show highlights:

  • Donna’s realization of the amount of harm that rescuing and pleasing actually does.
  • Professional Coaches cannot actually coach if they are unable to see their own need to fix others.
  • The roles of victim, persecutor, and rescuer– the ways of managing stress that make up the Karpman Drama Triangle.
  • The rescuer is the role in society that is most supported.
  • The qualities that make up the role of rescuer.
  • The sense of, self-righteousness, or superiority that can come about, from being a rescuer.
  • Why rescuers ultimately always become victims.
  • The resentment or the animosity that can easily develop between the rescuer and the people that they’re trying to rescue.
  • The dance around the Drama Triangle can happen very quickly.
  • You have a choice about the roles that you choose to play.
  • If you, as a Coach are working harder than the client, it’s a tell-tale sign that you are rescuing.
  • You really dis-empower others by rescuing them, as a Coach.
  • As a rescuer, you unknowingly suppress what you really feel about a situation and you can eventually flip and become angry.
  • The fine line between caring and letting go and caring so much that it’s your only focus in life.
  • Being more aware of the value that you’re bringing to the client, rather than allowing their strength to come into the situation- another sign that you’re rescuing.
  • The mistrust that can result from rescuing, rather than Coaching.
  • Some things that you could apply immediately, to shift your mindset and your behavior, upon becoming aware that you’re rescuing.
  • Becoming the creator of your own life.
  • Shifting from persecutor to challenge.
  • Coming to see yourself as you truly are- as a Spiritual Being.
  • Realizing that there really is another way to live.
  • Self-care– this is learning to ask for help.
  • Notice your relationship with silence- check your level of discomfort there.
  • Limit your time with fellow rescuers and also with victims- they can trigger your rescuing behavior.
Links:Donna’s email:

Donna’s Website