This short (7 minutes) video introduces Transactional Analysis (TA). Business relationships – How the parent, adult, child (PAC) model helps with difficult interactions.

(Video script)

Hi, I’m Kim Tasso

I’d like to share with you today a psychology concept to help you deal with difficult interactions – both in business and personal relationships. It comes from Transactional Analysis (TA) and is sometimes known as the PAC model. Here are today’s characters – Parent, Adult and Child.

What is Transactional Analysis?

But let’s start by understanding TA.

It was developed by a psychiatrist in the 1950s – Eric Berne.

You may be aware of books such as “I’m Ok, you’re ok” and “Games people play”.

Originally it was developed as a personality and therapeutic counselling tool but became popular when people realised it helped in everyday conflict situations.

The core idea

The basic idea is that people experience their personalities through a mixture of behaviours, thoughts and feelings. There are three ego states which have positive and negative aspects:

Parent – Their response unconsciously mimics how their parents or parental figures acted. For example, they may have learned to shout at someone who is frustrating them because that is what seemed to be a communication approach adopted by an influential person in their past that seemed to work.

Their focus is on rules, judgements, decisions, counsel, care and punishment

  •   The good parent – tries to keep people safe, is calming, nurturing and supportive
  •   The bad parent – is controlling, critical, patronising and finger pointing

Adult – Responses are direct responses to the here and now. There’s a reliance on information, sensory, perceptions and facts. And little emotion.

It’s all good with adults – they are reasonable, logical, rational, neither threatened or threatening.

Child – Replays behaviours, thoughts and feelings from childhood

  • The good child – Curious, playful, creative and spontaneous (we all need to get in touch with our inner good child sometimes!)
  • The bad child – Rebellious, tantrums, difficult and insecure

Here’s a table summarising that info for you…

How PAC work together

Now let’s see how they interact…

Berne labelled each interaction a transaction – they are both explicit (what you say) and implicit (how you say it and what you might really mean)

Some people may have unconscious scripts – where they take preconscious life plans into their current interactions and relationships

He also talked about strokes – we are all familiar with the idea of “ego stroking”. HE argued that we all need interpersonal recognition and these are recognition, attention or responses that one person gives another

He talked about positive strokes as “warm fuzzies”

And negative strokes as “cold pricklies”

He suggested that people hunger for recognition – even if they lack positive strokes – and that – as children – we test out what behaviours seem to get us strokes.

Different kinds of transactions

Reciprocal transactions – imagine an adult talking to another adult. It’s calm and reasonable and rational.

Crossed transaction – This is where someone adopts a different style

So if our adult moves to parent mode – it is likely that the other person will move from adult mode to child mode in response

Or if someone moves to child mode – the other person may move to parent mode

Complex or Covert mode – This is where the words spoken are in adult mode but the body language indicates a playful child

So problems can occur in communications when people adopt or slip into their parental or child mode

Now think back to a recent interaction where things didn’t go well –

  • Were you in adult mode?
  • Did you find yourself slipping into parent or child mode?
  • What triggered you to slip into parent or child mode?
  • How would things have been different if you had both stayed in adult mode?

You might also take a look at Cats, dogs and bears personalities video or one outlining an model of better business relationships

Thanks for watching and listening….

Further resources on TA:

Introduction to Transactional Analysis (TA) 

An introduction to Transactional Analysis by Eric Berne MD

The book “Games People Play – The psychology of human relationships” by Eric Berne MD

The book “I’m OK, You’re OK” by Thomas Harris MD

Better Business Relationships by Kim Tasso