I’m guessing you don’t get asked very often, “Do you respond more like a parent, an adult or a child when confronted?” If I wanted to rephrase in psyche lingo I would have asked it slightly different: “What is your most dominant ego-state?”
Still not clear what I’m getting at? It’s about how we express our personality in the way we behave based on what’s come to be known as Transactional Analysis (TA). Before you let the complex label bore you, the following information may just save your career.
Understanding TA can help us make better choices when confronted with workplace decisions, especially ones that tend to be more difficult or risky. It is one of the simplest and easy to use communication models in psychology today. Not only is it basic to understand, it can be easily remembered for later use and requires little practice.
Here’s how it fundamentally works:
Everyone assumes one of three roles during any conversation – the Parent, the Adult or the Child. We tend to react in conversation based on what role the other person plays. As I describe each role below, you will probably identify with some.
These are the behaviors we copy from our parents and tend to be authoritative. You might hear someone say, “Under no circumstances,” or “always,” or other verbal commands. When in the Parent ego state, you might point a finger, raise your voice, clinch your fist, get flush in the face etc.
These behaviors are heavily feelings-based and lead to actions such as pouting, temper tantrums, rolling eyes, whining, teasing, delight, squirming and giggling etc. The child ego state can most often come out when stress or exuberance dominates reason.
These are behaviors that tend to focus on what’s happening in the present, uninfluenced by past or future. These are direct responses to the here-and-now and may be described as detached involvement. This is the ideal ego state for successful communication as you respond thoughtfully, without emotion.
Each time we enter communication with a colleague, we assume one of these roles. The role we assume is often based on the role played by the second individual. If the discussion gets heated, and your colleague gets angry, you may be either tempted to act like a Parent and get stern, or take the role of the child and storm out of the room.
The best way to respond is to assume the role of the Adult. Be calm and take in what the person is saying. Acknowledge how they are feeling and validate their viewpoint.
This type of self-control is what helps propel a career. Guidance is given throughout the scriptures on this type of self-control. Here are a few examples from Proverbs:
Proverbs 16:32 (NASB) "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city."
Proverbs 12:16 (NIV) "Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult."
Proverbs 19:11 (NIV) "A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense."
Now That You Know
So now that you know how important it is to be aware of your ego-state within a situation, how can you go about changing it?
You can use a process known as Thought Tuning™. Thought Tuning™ is a unique and powerful way to immediately shift your thinking when a tense discussion or activity presents itself. It gets its power from the realization of your five core values! Go here to download the always-free Thought Tuning™ guide to discover your five core values.
With knowledge of your foundational beliefs (core values) at the front of your mind, you ask yourself six questions that will instantly shift you from the Parent or Child ego state to Adult. It really is that fast. Over time, your self-awareness increases and you learn to enter each conversation prepared.
Recall your core values, take them with you and practice the six questions as much as possible in the smaller frames of day to day workplace discussion. Then, when a big opportunity arises for you to be calm, level-headed and Adult-like, you’ll be ready to make a great impact.
Shawn Sommerkamp is a motivational speaker and Executive Coach with 20+ years of Fortune 100 leadership experience. He founded Motivationeer™ to coach Christian professionals how to use their career to glorify God and support local church growth.
Shawn Sommerkamp, speaking to the Charleston Church of Christ at the New Year's Eve church service Dec 31, 2017.
Targeted goal-setting is powerful and effective. It helps us keep clarity of outcome. Breaking big desires down into smaller, achievable goals makes success achievable. The biggest challenges are overcome as we make a series of small goals that, collectively, lead to big outcomes.
And yet, just setting a bunch of goals can often be discouraging when we don’t reach them. Ever wonder why we often fall short? It’s because the goals weren’t smart! I’m not talking about whether the goals are stupid or intelligent either. I’m talking about a simple way of thinking about an activity designed to help us achieve results. It’s called S.M.A.R.T. and it stands for the following:
It’s early January.
The Holidays are over.
It can feel like we go from the ‘The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ to the most challenging time of the year.
A more appropriate lyric, now that it is time to make resolutions & get back to work, could be one of the following…
‘It’s The Most:
- Crazy busy
- Cash poor
- Weight Gaining
…Time Of The Year.’`
It’s not that you are
You want to enjoy it, but
it can feel more like “I just want to get through it.”
Although your MIND knows that God’s will for you (according to 1 Th 5:16-18) is to:
“Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances…”
...your HEART can lag behind & this simple command can seem overwhelming.
Sometimes you can put your finger on what’s dragging you down & other times it’s more elusive ~ not really sure what’s keeping things from being ‘Wonderful’.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
Give thanks, no matter what is happening in your life. This is easy…right?
A national polling firm named Penn, Schoen, & Berland conducted a survey, mid-2012, evaluating American attitude toward thankfulness. They conducted more than 2,000 interviews across the US general population. I’m only going to share a few pieces of the overall report:
Where is the one place people are least likely to express gratitude? WORK
Based on this survey, that hardest circumstance to give thanks exists in and around the workplace. Isn’t that amazing? The place we spend the most waking hours (about 2,200 hours per year, about 110,000 hours in working lifespan) we aren’t thankful for. Wow!
The truth is our career is not just a way to make a living - it’s a way to transform the world. It’s the place God placed us so that we could make the biggest difference in our service to him.
Do you remember when these 3D-Hidden Object posters
came out? They were quite the RAVE…
They were not what they appeared to be at first glance… If you wanted to understand what the poster was really about, you had to stop what you were doing, get real close to it – focus on it, and back away very slowly… and then – like magic – 3D images would appear / seemingly emerge right off of the paper (3D effect). The embedded 3D images were disguised and hidden to the untrained/unfocused eyes.
Some people (me included sometimes) would get frustrated if we could not see the 3D images fast enough – some were easier than others… and missed the ‘magic’ of the poster.