Speech Pathology and Transactional Analysis

Transactional Analysis is an important aspect of our communication skills. It is not what you say but how you say it. It is important to be aware of the various styles that individuals maintain and are using. Transactional analysis can explain communication breakdown and can assist us to improve our communication with our clients, staff members and loved ones.

Each person has Ego States, which has nothing to do with their age or ego.
Ego states are recorded in our brain and are formed from memories, life experience, perceptions and feelings associated with events and the distortions of memories. They tend to be dominated by our personality traits. Ego states are also formed by the conditions and environment with which we have been in contact.

They are inherent within all of us. Everyone has three distinct Ego states and we tend to move between each of them depending on the situation. The time spent within each Ego state varies from situation to situation and from person to person. These are:

  • The Parent Ego state. We tend to use phrases such as “Do as you are told”, and “You should do….”, “I expect you to…”. The parent state likes to control, sometimes out of caring. Sometimes this Parent state wants to make the other person wrong. The Parent Ego state is often evident when a person feels they are expected to know what they are doing and tries to tell the other person how to do things.
  • The Adult Ego state is a neutral state. It is logical and understanding. It sees and appreciates the big picture from both sides and is able to resolve problems and analyse information effectively and rationally.
  • The Child Ego state contains all the impulses of a child. Typically, behaviour is fun, playful, silly, rebellious or immature. This state can appear to be insecure. Common words in the child state are, “I want”.

Clues as to which Ego state they are in can be taken from the words we use:

  • “I should” = Parent
  • “I think” = Adult
  • “I want” = Child

When communicating with another person, you need to understand which Ego state they are communicating from and which Ego state you are in. Communication problems often occur when people come from different Ego states. The breakdown occurs because you are coming from different states, which means that you have taken a particular position or role.
Many roles are played out from Top dog versus Underdog positions. Resentment soon becomes established when someone feels that they are being dominated, undervalued or not listened to.

How people feel about themselves, reflect how long they spend in each ego state and how much they control their Ego state.

Each Ego state has a different internal representation:

  • Adult – “I’m okay, you’re okay”
  • Parent – “I’m okay, you’re not okay”
  • Child – “ I’m not okay, you’re okay”

The most effective business communication is from the position of the “I’m okay, You’re okay”, Adult ego state. Take a few moments to assess from which state or position you are communicating from. This insight may be surprising for you. Adjusting your position and communicative behaviour however, requires this insight and significant inner strength.

Mr Craig Gorman
Speech Pathologist
Melbourne Speech Clinics

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