Saturday 17 February 2018

Insights from Transactional Analysis

It has been a while since I did much with Transactional Analysis, though it remains on my radar as Keri Phillips, who has supervised our Coaching Supervision Group, is an expert in the field. 

However, it was on the agenda to discuss with some university Deans attending a leadership programme in Cardiff, so I brushed up my thinking, and led a brief conversation, touching on Games People Play, but really focusing on Ego States and the famous PAC (Parent, Adult, Child) model.

They found it very interesting and it provoked a lot of insight - a useful way to analyse some conversations (both real and virtual) that had not gone as expected.

As they were talking, I too, had an insight. Recently, I had received an email from a senior person at another university about a day we were co-facilitating. He was saying his diary had been filled and asking if it was OK if he joined the programme at lunch time.

I looked at the morning programme, reckoned I could run it solo, and started to draft an email back to him to say of course I could make that work.

And then I caught myself: was that really what I wanted? Was that really best for the participants' learning?  The answers to both questions were 'No.'  So I ditched that email, and wrote another, explaining what I wanted, and why I thought it would be better for participants. He graciously agreed, rearranged his diary, and attended the morning session too, as originally planned.

What I want to be very clear about is that his original email to me was absolutely Adult - Adult.  Yet I was on the verge of sending a Child - Parent response. And that was my stuff: my relations with figures whom I see as authoritative.  

I've been aware of that for many years, and in my coaching and other practice have, by and large, managed to overcome the habit of being 'courteously deferential.'  But in an unreflective moment, it was still there: the desire to please (and a misplaced desire, at that: I am sure that the individual concerned would far rather have received what he did: an honest email outlining what I really felt and thought, so he could make a better-informed decision).  And the PAC model was helpful as a way of provoking and framing that insight.  I should revisit it more often. 

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