"Triangulation, a form of manipulation, describes a person's use of threats of exclusion or manipulation. The goal is to divide and conquer. It involves the use of indirect communication, often behind someone's back.
In the list of toxic behaviors, triangulation may be the most well-known.
Triangulation is an approach used by many different people who share one thing in common: insecurity. As a result, they're willing to manipulate others in harmful ways to get what they want or feel a sense of security in a relationship.
It's a highly effective strategy to earn an advantage over noted rivals by manipulating them into conflicts between one another. Triangulation is a method used by selfish individuals to comfort and protect their egos.
Typically, there is limited or no communication between the two triangulated people except through the person doing the manipulating. It may appear in various ways, but all are about dividing and conquering or putting people against each other."
Source: Arlene Cuncic MA. Reproduced from:
Triangulation is a process whereby Person A communicates malicious information about person B to multiple other people without communicating to person B. In this way, A hopes to undermine the credibility of and public confidence in Person B by manipulating the opinions of the people with whom them communicate. It is a particularly toxic form of gossiping, and, according to Rev Dr Dennis Maynard (www.Episkopols.com) in his book "When Sheep Attack" (ISBN 978-14515139-12) it is a particularly selected tactic of people seeking to disrupt a church.
The purpose of triangulation is to unattributably weaken the position of someone towards whom the person spreading the rumours bears malicious intent. People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder frequently adopt this tactic "to increase their feelings of supremacy, secure their self-esteem, and devalue other people while keeping potential competitors off-balance."
A secondary effect of triangulation is to create dissonance whereby the person who receives the triangulated communication is forced to make a choice between two people whom they know and is intended to create a division between the recipient and one of the people. People who receive triangulated communications are often reluctant to alert the person to whom it relates for fear of causing them distress. Repairing the damage caused may be a lengthy process.
When someone experiences triangulation, they may fear what other people think and feel humiliated, concerned, and self-protective.
They might feel the need to set the record straight, or may even want to confront the other people involved. However, by doing so, they allow the perpetrator to win. Sometimes, the triangulator is hoping for this kind of reaction, hoping that their target will lose control and act out in impulse and fear.
The biggest danger is that unaware people will be drawn into the conspiracy and will pass the accusations on to other people, thereby lending the authority and credibility of their voice to what is basically maliciously-intentioned gossip.
Spreading or repeating malicious allegations may be contrary to civil or even criminal laws relating to libel depending on where it occurs. Under certain professional codes of ethics (e.g. the Church of England's Clergy Discipline Measure) being party to or initiating triangulation may constitute a disciplinary violation.
TRIANGULATION IS SINFUL
The Bible forbids Christians from becoming embroiled in gossiping. In Hebrew, the word "Gossip" means "one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger."
"Do not go about spreading slander among your people." Leviticus 19:16
"In you are slanderers who are bent on shedding blood." Ezekiel 22:9a
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Matthew 18:15-16
HOW TO RESPOND TO TRIANGULATION
If you are approached by a person trying to involve you in triangulation:
Politely let the other person know the information they are telling you is none of your business. It may sound harsh, but think of the way you would feel if someone was talking about you. Whether you are actually speaking the gossip or simply listening to it, it is still wrong. Standing up for someone who is being hurt by someone’s words demonstrates you are a good friend and have integrity.
Inform the person who is being triangulated. it is far better for them to hear about this attack on their good name from a friend who can assure them that they do not believe it than to hear it from some random person or even worse - from someone they know to be hostile towards them.
Tell the person who is trying to draw you into triangulation that you will pray for them.