Triangulation: vestries be mindful
In human interactive terms, a triangle occurs when each of two opposing parties seeks to join with a third party against the other, with the third party finding it necessary to cooperate now with one and now with another of these opposing parties. Triangulation works like this:
- A has a grievance against C (whether valid or invalid), but instead of going directly to C, A instead talks to B about it.
- A wants B to confront C but without telling C that it is A who has the grievance. In this scenario, A wields power over C (unidentified discontent) and B (manipulation). B wields power over C because for C to get to a resolution with A, C must go through B.
- B should encourage A to talk to C and state her concerns personally
- Alternatively, B should lovingly tell A that he will go with her to C, or that B will be happy to convey A’s concerns to C but that B will need to reveal A’s identity to C because he is sure that C will want to discuss these concerns with A. In any event, B should not carry A’s message anonymously.
- Lay the ground rules, starting that we don’t communicate anonymous messages. Period. If A wishes to remain anonymous, the complaint goes unreported. Healthy leaders never play the triangulation game.
Reprinted from Beyond Business as Usual by Neal O. Michell, with permission from Church Publishing.