Another exciting communication model is Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis.
The basic idea behind this theory is that people can have (and react out of) different ego-states, such as Parent (normative or caring), Adult (objective, solutions-oriented) and Child (spontaneous, intuitive, feelings-oriented, rebel/obedient).
Communication and interaction thus happen between different ego-states of the communication partners and can lead to
- parallel (approach is Parent-Child, response is Child-Parent),
- crossed (approach is Parent-Child, response is Adult-Adult) or
- hidden transactions, where the verbal communication indicates a certain ego-state, but the body language, tone, pitch, etc. will indicate a totally different state.
Berne goes on to talk about the phenomena behind these transactions, about life positions, script messages – injunctions and “drivers” – and it all makes for really fascinating reading – even though his views were not always shared by the scientific community.
In his opinion, we often act in stereotypical ways, possibly under the constraint of the instructions (or “good advice”) we received in verbal form and used to obey as children. He calls these mini-scripts “drivers” of our behavior. These messages we use to push ourselves are particularly amplified in stressful situations, and the more we listen to them, the more psychological comfort we feel.
One fascinating insight related to TA is about the games people play (this is also the title of one of his most famous books). To Berne, each transaction between people is a communication game. He thinks that, throughout our lives, we basically play a combination of only three major roles: Perpetrator, Rescuer and Victim.
So which are you? And how do you communicate? Check your egogram, drivers, life position and profile type. Are you normative, nurturing, submissive, creative or rebellious?
Here’s a batch of tests that supposedly can help you identify how you relate to your environment, how you act or are perceived to act. These kinds of tests have also been used for self-development, skill assessment and group dynamics. Take them at your own risk right here: http://www.transactional-analysis.info/menutests.php