I work with TA (Transactional Analysis) a lot. As part of leadership programs or coaching conversations, when we need something through which to understand ourselves and the impact that we have on others.
One of the most useful ideas for exactly this is the notion behind the principle of our “TA Drivers”, which can help us to understand what we do when we feel not OK, or under stress. A Driver is a basic strong Parent Tape (or message), that we have picked up early on and which acts as an energiser or driving force within us for life. It gets our inner Child going, and we and we compulsively react to our internal parent.
There seem to be five main Drivers, which are. See which one feels like you:-
“BE PERFECT” – being focused on making sure EVERYTHING is perfect. “If a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing well”
“TRY HARD” – being concerned with doing the best I can in terms of effort. “As long as I’ve done my absolute best!”
“BE STRONG” – being focused on not showing that I can cope. “I’ve just got to suck it up”
“HURRY UP” – focused on getting things done at pace. “I’ve got to get things done quickly.”
“PLEASE PEOPLE”- a focus on what others need and making sure that they’re OK. “It’s not OK to say no, or ask for what I need”
Our Drivers are triggered when we feel stressed, worried or that there is some sense of ‘danger.’ So for instance, if I’m feeling pressure at work, & my primary Driver is to “Be Perfect”, I’m going to work really hard to make sure that I do everything perfectly. Oh, and by the way what is ever ‘perfect’?? I’m probably not going to want or feel able to ask for help; after all who could do this as well as me? And I’m probably going to sweat the small stuff and find it hard to let thing go, if things don’t meet my own exacting standards!!
When our drivers are triggered, we probably feeling under pressure and we’re probably also working very hard. They have one other effect – if we get into our driver, then other people will tend to get into theirs. Imagine the carnage when the Be Perfect clashes with the Hurry Up when time pressures are looming in a meeting!! When our drivers are triggered, suffice to say some interesting exchanges ensue!!
So, as usual in this type of work. It starts with us!!
When we become aware of our drivers, we can then begin to do things to reduce the damaging effects. One way to do this is to deliberately create a personal internal message that will mollify or counteract the NOT OK feelings that are associated with each driver. These are what’s called the ALLOWERS, and here’s a list of them in the table below;
So how do you use this I hear you say? Great question, I say!!
First take some time to identify which of the 5 drivers are the ones that are your normal default position. If you’re at a loss, ask your nearest and dearest, they’ll be able to tell you I’m sure!
Second, when you begin to feel stressed, anxious or worried just see if you can notice your thinking, feelings and actions – this might give you clues as to how your driver is coming into play.
Thirdly, once you spot it, remind yourself of the appropriate ALLOWER as outlined above. Regularly repeating your ALLOWERS will help to ease the tension that you’re creating for yourself and might just give you the chance to get out of your driver and into something else, that might be more helpful!!
As with all this personal development stuff, change takes time. So, think about the small, modest, low risk steps you can take to change your actions and reactions when you feel triggered….I GUARANTEE if you can control your driver you’ll have more productive conversations!!
I have a really simple, quick and dirty questionnaire that you can use to explore your own drivers. Let me know if you’d like a copy or if you’d like some help in managing your own, pesky drivers!!