In our continuing series on managing and leading in the 21st century, Founder and CEO, Jerry Houston, takes us into a very interesting topic, Transactional Analysis, or, in other words, the transactions that occur between people. While this is not a new science, it is as valid and important today as when it was developed back in the 1970’s. We hope you find value in the concept of Transactional Analysis and find applications where it can be put to work in your organization today.
People operate from three distinct perspectives, the parent, the child and the adult ego-states. Eric Berne, the father of Transactional Analysis (TA) defines each of these states of mind as a “consistent pattern of feeling and experience related to a corresponding pattern of behavior.” None of this has to do with your age, by the way! All three of these states exist in all people at different levels. Our minds have the ability to take in and “record” information and experiences. This starts at birth and continues for the rest of our lives. Understanding TA helps us to understand where we are coming from, and also where others are coming from when we “transact” with each other.
Simply put, the three ego-states are:
The Parent Ego State
The old saying that a child that grows up with criticism will criticize is absolutely true. If the “parent” is overprotective, judgmental, critical, supportive, then so might we be as we replay those recordings. Think about that as it relates to being a manager. Do you nurture, demand, compensate your employees?
The Child Ego State
Think about how children behave…some good, some not so good. Here are some words that might describe the Child in us. Whining, crying, blaming (it’s not fair!), happy, joyful, innocent, playful, creative, inquisitive…you get the idea. Now apply this to yourself or your employees. Where do you fall and where do they fall when in the “child.”
The Adult Ego-State
When we are very young (about 10 months of age) we begin the ability to make choices about the input we are receiving. This is because we gain the “power of locomotion.” Information is gathered as we experience new things and how we feel about those inputs. Your adult ego-state grinds out data to make decisions after computing the information from the Parent and the Child states. Your Adult is very useful on the job. It is rational, reasonable, practical, balanced and does not give in to emotion. The Adult is a problem-solver. If you want to change something about your life, it is your Adult that always has the correct thinking. It takes issues that are created in the Parent or Child states and makes sense of them. It is the objective and rational state that we are in…sometimes.
Understanding the three ego-states and where you spend your time as Parent, Child or Adult is critical in interpersonal relationships and personal improvement. In our next article we are going to talk about CROSS TRANSACTION, or in other words, what happens when you are in one ego state and the person you are transacting with is in another state.