Transactional Analysis, introduced in the late 1950s, by Dr. Eric Berne, is a highly effective and accessible way of understanding our interactions with others. Here are 3 ways TA can help you:
# Speak from the Adult Ego State
Berne in his seminal work, Games People Play, defined an ego state as “a consistent pattern of feeling and experience directly related to a corresponding consistent pattern of behavior”. As far as possible, initiate your interactions from the Adult ego state, which means gather your data from the here and now, rather than falling into thinking patterns of the past. After getting your inputs from the present state, then respond calmly and logically. This prevents emotional baggage from the past clouding your present interactions.
# Make for Complementary Transactions
Complementary Transactions are those in which the Transactional Response is from the same ego state to which the Transactional Stimulus is directed. So, if your co-worker is feeling frazzled during a stressful work day and comments, ” Will this day never end!”, understand that he/she is speaking from a Child ego state and is looking for reassurance. Instead, if you respond from your Adult or Child ego states, like “You will be free to leave at 6 in the evening, you know” or “You don’t see me complaining, do you?” respectively, communication will get difficult. Rather be compassionate and respond from your Nurturing Parent ego state like, “Completely agree – should I get you a cup of coffee”?
# Avoid drawn into Games
Berne’s Games People Play is fascinating for its accounts of the many psychological games people play in their relationships. Games here means, “recurring set of transactions… with a concealed motivation”. Analyzing your transactions with others can help you spot such repeated negative patterns which merely end in feeling bad and confirming unhealthy life positions. Avoid getting drawn into such games and instead, try to rewrite a healthier life-script.