Transactional analysis is a model of human interactions, which was first developed by Dr. Eric Berne in 1960.
This model is based on 2 principles:
a) Our personality is made of 3 parts or ego states
b) These parts or ego states interact with each-other in transactions
The 3 ego states:
Each of us within ourselves is made up of a Parent, an Adult and a Child. These parts interact with each other during our internal communications as well as when we are communicating with other people.
We can interact as a parent in two forms:
i) The Nurturing Parent: it is a part which often displays care and concern, it could appear to be a mother-figure (this can be in men too). This part often tries to keep the Child satisfied, by providing love and protection to the Child when in trouble.
ii) The Controlling or Critical Parent: it is a part which compels the child to do things as the parent would want them to do. In these interactions the parent could handover their values and beliefs. There is a possibility of having a negative intent, where the Child could be physically abused to abide and forced to follow their beliefs.
It is a part in all of us which is enlightened, it is a part which communicates rationally, positively and sensibly, you could call this, the “Grown up” part; a part which is always poised and respecting other people’s view and opinions, is always calm and comfortable with itself, the part that does not try to control others, nor tries aggressively to react to other people’s views and opinions. You may call this part your “Ideal Self”.
We may interact as a child in 2 different forms:
The Natural or Free Child, which is not very self-aware and usually communicates by cooing or crying. These are playful, vulnerable, inquisitive, and constantly exploring the world.
The Adaptive Child is the one, which is stimulated by the world around them, they are either trying to adapt themselves to fit in, or rebel against the pressing forces. They could be disobedient, with deeper hostility and some negativity in them.
Transactions or Communications
Communication between two individuals is transaction. Most of our issues are a result of unsuccessful or unresolved transactions.
The communication from Parents to Children is in their role as a parent. They could speak to other Parents and Adults, about children.
The Nurturing Parent often communicates with the Free Child, while the Critical Parent encourages an Adaptive Child. In most of our communication we often evoke the opposite parts in us. Thus, when an Adaptive Child within me is communicating with you, I shall likely evoke the Controlling parent within you.
We often indulge ourselves in these games of communications, playing various positions and parts as we communicate. These communications often appear to be scripted or a set pre-recording, which plays out so easily. They help us understand our relationship with others, especially in establishing our role in the event and our ability to handle the situation peacefully and comfortably. While other conversations could be filled with a lot of negativity, which could easily destroy our relationships with others; these are born out of our sense of obsession to deal with matters in destructive ways.
Complementary interactions are those communications exchanged between personalities of similar levels. For example, conversations between one Parent and another. It is because both have a similar thinking pattern and hence their conversations are simple and easy.
However, when there are Crossed interactions, which occur when one personality is communicating with another personality at a different level, it may lead to conflicts and unresolved issues. For example, when a Parent (Nurturing or Controlling) is in conversation with a Child (Adaptive or Free) they usually have cross-communication resulting in conflicts and disagreements.
Remember, the best interactions are amongst Adult-Adult; here the communications are mature, rational and usually with positive results.
How can you resolve conflicts?
When you are communicating as a Controlling Parent, the other person quickly moves to the Child state, wherein they might obey you; but there is a possibility that they could be either an Adaptive or Free Child. The conversations could become interesting where they could easily adapt into opposing Parent or Adult states.
When you are operating as a Nurturing Parent or conversing at the same level as that of the other person, it helps in easily building trust between you.
However, when there are cross-communications, which often results in conflicts, one could easily achieve peaceful communication when one person adapts to the level of the other person. This could be Parent, Child or Adult, and is the best form of conflict-resolving communication.
For conflict-resolving conversations, Adult-to-Adult conversations are the best to adopt.
The information and views expressed in the blog are individual and inspired from writer’s experience and study in Mental Health & Hypnotherapy.