In the 1950’s, this guy Eric Berne …
. devised what is known in Counselling as TA (Transactional Analysis) and the PAC (Parent Adult Child) model.
In this blog post I’m going to explain to you why it is still so useful.
Essentially Berne believed that in any interaction with another person,
people adopt one of three ‘Ego States’ Parent, Adult or Child.
‘Parent’ can be Controlling: “Let me tell you”
Parent can be Nurturing: “Let me take care of you”
Adult is mature and present: “I hear you”
Child can be Free: “Let me show you”
Child can be Adaptive: “Let me please you”
Berne thought that we should strive to have Adult to Adult interactions whenever possible.
But most of us don’t know about this so we tend to interact impulsively,
based on our learnt patterns of behaviour and communication.
When we argue with someone it is because one person is communicating from
an Adult state and one person is communicating from a Child state.
When we feel pacified by someone it is because one person is behaving in
a Child state and the other is responding from a Parent state.
When we are both being Adult we are communicating calmly, listening to one another, respecting one another and striving to meet the needs of the other person (whilst having our own needs met).
So here are my top 13 tips for staying in your Adult State:
- Share this concept with people you struggle to communicate with. (Partner, parent, child, sibling, friend etc) and agree to use this strategy for improving your relationship.
2. Strive to remain in your Adult state. Keep composed, listen, know what is right for you, respect that the other person views the world in their own unique way.
3. Agree that you can politely remind one another if they begin to deviate from their Adult state.
4. Voluntarily and sincerely apologise if the other person tells you that you have upset or hurt them. This may not be your truth but be respectful of their truth.
5. Agree that you can request an apology if you feel hurt by them.
6. Always apologise if you know that the other person needs to hear it.
7. Treat apologies as a testament to your ability to maintain your Adult state.
8. Once you feel suitably respected you will be able to calmly discuss the issues or events that led to the breakdown in the relationship.
9. Agree to always hear one another. Both of you must communicate your thoughts and feelings. Both of you must respect what the other person says.10. Seek a workable solution:“Perhaps we should…”“From now on, how about…”“I promise I wont do/say that again…”“I promise I will try harder…”11. If you can’t find a way to resolve the situation then try saying things like:“On this occasion perhaps it is okay for us to disagree…”“We could take some time out and revisit this later…”“Perhaps it’s okay if I do X and you do Y…”12. Express your gratitude for the Adult interaction.“Thank you for discussing this with me…”“Thank you for hearing me…”“Thank you for making me feel listened to…”13. Hug it out if it’s appropriate to do so and if not end by offering to something nice to the other person:“Would you like me to make you a cup of tea?”“Would you like to take a walk together?”
Granted you can’t always share this theory with a person you have poor communication with but you can always strive to bring your own Adult responses into any given interaction which will automatically diffuse the other person. If you don’t rise or lower to their state, they won’t be able to maintain it.
Staying in your Adult will create a more peaceful and harmonious life for you and those you communicate with.
If this post has resonated with you and you can identify that this is an area of concern,
you can seek out a TA therapist who can help you to review your relationships in more depth. This will give you clarity and support as you try to implement better communication patterns.