Communication tips: The gift of Transactional Analysis

event_page  Communication is the most common activity amongst people. It can definitely add to people’s welfare and it can detract from it. We often misunderstand the messages we receive as we do not tend to acknowledge where the speaker is coming from. We often fail to communicate our message clearly as we are not aware of our own mental state while speaking.

Steward & Joines introduce Transactional Analysis (TA), a theory of personality which provides a theory of communication and a method of analysing systems and relationships both in personal life and in work situations. It can help people to stay in clear communication and avoid setting up unproductive confrontations. It can be suitable for use in leadership and coaching and it makes a powerful tool in management, communications training and in organisational analysis.

There are fundamental ideas of TA, the most basic of all is the ego state model which presents three types of ego state: the Adult, Parent and Child ego state. We are in an Adult ego state when our behaviour, our feelings and our thinking are related to what is going on around us in the here and now appealing to all the resources available for support as grown up persons. We are in a Parent ego state when we are thinking, feeling and behaving like our parents or others who have been parent figure to us. The model of a parent ego state can be subdivided into the category of the Controlling Parent and that of the Nurturing Parent. We are in a Child ego state when we tend to behave, think and feel in ways we did when we were children. This model can be subdivided into the model of the Adapted Child and Free Child. We all find ourselves in each state from time to time, as we try to meet our own needs. The awareness of the state we happen to be can give us an inner awareness that will give us the choice to remain to this state or to shift into a different state if that serves us better enabling us to communicate our message with greater clarity.

Transactional analysis provide insights on the way we behave, thus we can use it both to develop a greater awareness of the way we communicate and shift between the most suitable ego states for a given situation. We can use it in order to interpret messages as it enables us to understand the reasons why people feel, think, behave and communicate the way we do. Understanding  the reasons why is helping us to release judgements and develop an empathetic approach towards people.

Source: Steward, I & Joines, V. (2012) TA Today. A new introduction to Transactional Analysis

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