If you’re a shoe fiend like me, you’ll probably notice that even though you’ve got a whole range of shoes for every occasion…and maybe even “breakfast shoes” like one of my friends (I won’t out her here); there are probably a couple of pairs of shoes in your collection that are your “go-to”, favourite pair that you put your hand to, without even thinking!?
There the ones that we naturally gravitate to. They are the ones that we’re most comfortable with. They’re the ones that perhaps represent our “signature style.”
When we talk about communication styles, and how we think, feel and act around others we also have a ‘signature style.’ A style and approach that is what we do when we’re not thinking about it consciously; when we are just being who we are.
One of the reasons why I did two-year course on “Transactional Analysis (TA) in Leadership & Coaching” a couple of years ago, was because, for me TA provides an accessible way of understanding what happens in conversations and relationships, and more importantly what we can do to create more productive conversations.
The fundamental proposition of Eric Berne’s’ theory is that each adult personality is composed of, and at any time may be operating “out of” one of three “ego states.” These three ego states are known, in terminology deliberately chosen by Berne to be easily understood by non-psychologists, as ‘Parent’, ‘Child’ and ‘Adult.’
And what does this have to do with shoes I hear you ask?
Good question. Much like your favourite, go-to shoes, you might have a favourite or default ‘ego state.’ In other words, you might naturally, for lots of reasons tend to think, feel and act from one or other of the Parent, Child or Adult perspectives, more of the time.
Generally, in our adult or work based interactions, thinking, feeling and acting from an Adult perspective is probably what is required for MOST of the time, but;
If you’ve ever heard yourself say about others, “why do they behave like children?” – maybe that’s a sign that you have a tendency to think, feel and act like a Parent?
If you’ve ever said or thought “why does no-one listen to me?” – maybe that’s a sign that maybe you have a tendency to think, feel and act like a Child?
So here’s a couple of questions for you to think about the next time you find yourself in the midst of a conversation that goes “belly up”;
- What am I doing that might be escalating things here?
- What Parental or Childlike vibes am I putting out there?
- If I want a different response from them, what else could I put out there?
I’ll talk another time, about my top tips for “staying in Adult” – so this is just to get you thinking about what happens to you in the heat of the moment.
Parent, Child or Adult – is there one of those that is your go-to stance….like a comfy pair of shoes?