When people interact in organisations, there is a social transaction in which one person responds to another. ERIC BERNE is usually credited with starting the transactional movement for psychotherapy in the 1950s. He observed in his patients that often it was as if several different people were inside each person. He also observed that these various selves transmitted with people in different way.
In the words of Eric Berne, “The unit of social intercourse is called a transaction. If two or more people encounter each other in a social aggregation, sooner or later one of them will speak or give some other indication of acknowledging the presence of the other. This is called the transactional stimulus. Another person will then says or do something which is in some way related to this stimulus and that is called the transactional response.”
A few definitions of transactional analysis are as given below:
“Transactional analysis (TA) is a technique used to help people better understands their own and other’s behaviour, especially in interpersonal relationships.”
“TA refers to a method of analyzing and understanding interpersonal behaviour. TA offers a model of personality and the dynamics of self and its relationship to others that makes possible a clear and meaningful discussion of behaviour.”
After Eric Berne, this concept was made popular by Thomas A. Harris, Munel James and Dorothy Jongeward and Abe Wagner. In later years Jongeward and Wagner have shown how the concepts of TA can be applied to organisations for analyzing interpersonal communication and related to the work of other theories such as Douglas McGregor and Rensis Likert.
TA is primarily concerned with the following:
(i) Analysis of Self Awareness
(ii) Analysis of Ego states
(iii) Analysis of Transactions
(iv) Script analysis
(v) Games analysis
(vi) Analysis of life positions
Analysis of Self Awareness:
The interpersonal relationships are composed of inter-self. Self is the core of personality pattern which provides integration. This relationship can be studied properly if a person can perceive his own behavioural style and at the same time how it is perceived by others. Self awareness is a cognitive concept; it describes the self in terms of image, both conscious and unconscious. Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham have developed a diagram to look at one’s personality including behaviours and attitudes that can be known and unknown to self and known and unknown to others. They named this diagram the Johari window.
This Johari window comprising of four quadrants is shown in the following diagram.
1. The Open Self:
The open quadrant refers to the behaviours, feelings and motivations of an individual which are known to self and also known to others in any specific organisational setting. Some individuals are straight forward, open and sharing. He himself is very clear about what he is doing, what he is feeling and what his motivations are. Similarly others are also very clear about his actions, feelings and motivations. In such type of interpersonal relationship, chances of conflict, if any, will be very little.
2. The Blind Self:
The blind self quadrant is unknown to self but known to others. Other people know what is happening to a person, but he himself is unaware of it. Very often such blind behaviour is copied by individuals from certain significant people unconsciously right since the childhood.
Since such a behaviour is copied unconsciously, people may not be aware of it. Another reason for this unawareness is that other people are not willing to be open and do not give relevant feed back to the person concerned. Even if there is a verbal or non-verbal response in the system, the individual may not be in a position to perceive it. There are chances of interpersonal conflict in this situation.
Jongeward and Seyer observes that, “Subtle bars to our personal effectiveness are often our blind quadrant. We may speak in a certain way with a tone of voice, a look on our face-a gesture-that we are blind to, but other people are acutely aware of it. In fact, our manner can affect how they perceive us and they believe they can interact with us.”
3. The Hidden Self:
The hidden self is the quadrant which is known to self but not known to others. This is a very private and personal window because only the person concerned knows what is happening. The individual is aware about the hidden self but does not want to share it with others. People learn to hide their feeling and ideas right from the childhood. Other people in the system are unable to perceive the verbal and non-verbal behaviour of the person in quadrant. Like blind self, chances of interpersonal conflict are there is this situation.
4. The Unknown Self:
This quadrant is unknown to self and unknown to others. The unknown self is mysterious in nature. Sometimes feelings and motivation go so deep that no one including the person concerned knows about them. In Freudian Psychology, this would be called the subconscious or unconscious. Many times only a small portion of motivation is clearly visible or conscious to oneself. People experience unknown parts of life in dreams or deep rooted fears or compulsions. In such situations, misunderstanding and interpersonal conflict is almost sure to result.
Principles of Change in Awareness:
The awareness about self keeps on changing continuously. As the awareness changes, the quadrant to which the psychological state is assigned also changes.
According to Jongeward, there are eleven principles of such change:
l. Any change in one quadrant will affect the other quadrants also.
2. It takes energy to hide, deny or be blind to behaviour which is involved in interaction.
3. Threat tends to decrease awareness whereas mutual trust tends to increase awareness.
4. Forced awareness is undesirable and usually ineffective.
5. Interpersonal learning means that a change has taken place so that one quadrant is larger and any one of the other quadrants has grown smaller.
6. Working with others is facilitated by a large enough area of free activity. It means more of the resources and skill of the persons involved can be applied to the task at hand.
7. The smaller the first quadrant, poorer will be the communication.
8. There is universal curiosity about the hidden area, but this is held in check by custom, social training and diverse fears.
9. Sensitivity means appreciating the covert aspects of behaviour in quadrants 2, 3 and 4 and respecting the desire of others to keep them so.
10. Learning about group processes, as they are being experienced helps to increase awareness (enlarging quadrant) for the group as a whole as well as for individual members.
11. The value system of a group and its members may be observed in the way the group deals with unknowns in the life of the group and of self.
The process that affects the shape of the Johari window is the feedback. This is the extent to which others are willing to share with the person on how he or she is coming across. It is also the extent to which the person is able to perceive the verbal and non verbal feedback in the organisational setting.
Another important factor that affects the Johari window is the disclosure. This is the extent to which the persons are willing to share with the others the data that exist in their organisational system.
The NATIONAL TRAINING LABORATORY suggests the following guidelines for providing feedback for effective interpersonal relations:
1. Be descriptive rather than judgmental.
2. Be specific rather than general.
3. Deal with things that can be changed.
4. Give feedback when it is desired.
5. Consider the motives for giving and receiving feedback.
6. Give feedback at the time the behaviour takes place.
7. Give feedback when its accuracy can be checked with others.
Analysis of EGO States:
The ego plays an important role in human behaviour. “An ego state is a pattern of behaviour that a person develops as he or she grows, based on his or her accumulated network of feelings and experiences.” People interact with each other in terms of psychological positions or behavioural patterns known as ego states. Ego states are person’s way of thinking, feeling and behaving at anytime.
Sigmund Freud was the first to believe that there are three sources within human personality that stimulate, monitor and control behaviour. TA uses Freudian psychoanalytic theory as background for identifying three important ego states; child, adult and parent. These three ego states have nothing to do with the chronological age of the persons; they are related only with psychological age. A person of any age can have these ego states in varying degrees.
BERNE states that “although we cannot directly observe these ego states, we can observe behaviour and from this infer which of the three ego states are operating at that moment.”
A healthy person is able to move from one ego state to another. Further, these three ego states are not like Freud’s Id, ego and super ego. They are based on real world behaviour.
These three ego states are shown in the following figure:
1. Parent Ego:
The parent ego state means that the values, attitudes and behaviours of parents become an integral part of the personality of an individual. By parents, we do not mean the natural parents but all those emotionally significant people like elder brothers, and sisters, school teachers, elder relatives or friends, who served as parent figure when an individual was a child. The attitudes, behaviours, values and habits of these people are recorded in the mind of the individual and these become the basis of this personality.
The characteristics of a person with parent ego are:
(ii) Value laden
(iii) Rule maker
(v) Over protective
Parent ego is expressed by giving advice, admonitions, do’s and don’ts, showing displeasure, reliance on the ways which were successful in the past etc. These people tend to talk down to people and treat others like children.
There are two types of parent ego states:
(i) Nurturing Parent Ego:
Nurturing parent ego state reflects sympathetic, protective and nurturing behaviour not only towards children but also to other people in interaction.
(ii) Critical Parent Ego:
Critical parent ego state shows critical and evaluative behaviour in interaction with others. This ego state attacks people’s personalities as well as their behaviour. They are always ready to respond with a should or ought to almost anything people tell them. Each individual has his unequal parent ego state which is likely to be a mixture of helpfulness (Nurturing state ego) and hurtfulness (Critical ego state). People with parent ego “state have more choice over their actions.
2. Adult Ego:
The adult ego state is authentic, direct, reality based, rational, fact seeking and problem solving. People interacting with adult ego; do not act impulsively or in a domineering style. They assume human beings as equal, worthy and responsible. The process of adult ego state formation goes through one’s own experiences and continuously updating parental prejudices or attitudes left over from childhood.
Though certain values which are formed in the childhood are rarely erased, an individual at the later stage of the life may block his child and parent ego states and use his adult ego only based on his experiences. He updates the parent data to determine what is valid and what is not. Similarly, he updates the child data to determine which feelings should be expressed.
Thus, people, with adult ego state, gather relevant information, carefully analyze it, generate alternatives and make logical choices. This ego state can be identified by verbal and physical signs which include thoughtful concentration and factual discussion.
3. Child Ego:
The child ego state is the inner world of feelings, experiences and adaptations. In each case, the child ego is characterised by very immature behaviour.
The characteristics of child ego state are:
(viii) Emotional Sentimental
(x) Insubordinate and rebellious
Physical and verbal clues that a person is acting in the child ego are silent compliance, attention seeking, temper tantrums, giggling and coyness. Child ego state reflects early childhood conditions and experiences perceived by individuals in their early years of life that is up to the age of 5 years.
There are several forms of the child ego states are:
(i) Natural Child:
The natural child is affectionate, impulsive, sensuous, uncensored and curious. Nevertheless, he is also fearful, self indulgent, self centred, rebellious and aggressive and may emerge in many unpleasant roles.
(ii) The Little Professor:
The little professor is intuitive, creative and manipulative. He responds to non-verbal messages and play hunches. He can figure things out and believes in magic. People who express their creativity purposefully use their little professor in conjunction with their adult ego state.
(iii) The Adaptive Child:
The adaptive child is the trained one and he is likely to do what parents insist on and sometimes learn to feel non O.K. The adapted child when overtly inhibited, often becomes the troubled part of the personality.
Each person may respond to specific situations in quite distinct ways from each ego state. ABE WAGNER is of the opinion that a healthy person has a personality that maintains a balance among all three. However, practically speaking, it would be difficult. If not impossible to maintain a balance among all the three ego states.
An ego state from which a person behaves would depend upon, to an extent situation in which an individual operates at that particular moment. Sometimes, these ego states harmonise whereas sometimes they are in conflict. Some people respond with one ego state more than they do with other ego states.
Analysis of Transactions:
A transaction is a basic unit of social interaction. The heart of transactional analysis is the study and diagramming of the exchanges between two persons. Thus, where a verbal or non verbal stimulus from one person is being responded by another person, a transaction occurs. T.A. can help us to determine which ego state is most heavily influencing our behaviour and the behaviour of the other people with whom we interact.
Depending on the ego states of the persons involved in transactions, there may be three types of transactions:
(i) Complementary transactions
(ii) Crossed transaction
(iii) Ulterior transactions.
(I) Complementary Transactions:
Complementary transactions are those where the ego states of the sender and the receiver in the opening transaction are simply reversed in the response. In these transactions stimulus and response patterns from one ego state to another are parallel. The message by one person gets the predicted response from the other person. There can be nine complementary transactions:
1. Adult-Adult Transactions:
In these transactions, the manager and his subordinate interact with each other from adult-adult ego. This is an ideal transaction. Complementary transactions in these ego states are psychologically mature and effective because both the boss and the subordinate are acting in a rational manner. Both are attempting to concentrate on problems, developing alternatives and trying to choose the best possible alternative to solve the problem.
Adult-Adult transaction is presented in the following figure:
However, there are some inherent problems in this transaction. At times, these transactions may prevent reaching any decisions because of rational data processing procedure and a deadline may emerge. Moreover, the absence of child ego state may make the transactions dull due to the lack of stimulation a child can provide. In such situations, the boss may move to the parent ego state to take a decision to solve the problems. In-spite of these problems, this type of transaction is generally considered best from the organisational point of view.
2. Adult-Parent Transaction:
In adult parent transaction, the manager has the adult ego and he attempts to use the information he himself has processed. On the other hand, the subordinate has the parent ego and he prefers to use the clicks and rules of the past. The employee’s parent ego tries to control and dominate the boss. This type of transaction can be effective only on a temporary basis and it can help a new manager in understanding the rules and guidelines under which his subordinate operates.
The following figure presents the Adult-parent transaction:
There can be a lot of problems in this type of transactions. In the long run the employee with the parent ego may have hostile feelings towards the managers with adult ego. Such problems can be further aggravated if the other employees working in the organisation have child ego and they are under the influence of the employee with the parent ego. As he may be having better interaction with the employees with child ego, the employee with the parent ego can come into direct conflict with the manager with adult ego.
3. Adult-Child Transaction:
An adult child transaction occurs when the manager has an adult ego but the subordinate has a child ego as shown in the following figure:
Such a transaction can be effective only if the manager is aware of the child ego state of the employee. Further, he must be aware that what type of child ego state the employees is in. If the subordinate has the little professor style child ego, the manager can allow the employee to be creative. But the problems in this interaction may arise if the employee behaves irrationally because of his child ego. Another problem may arise if the manager assumes the employee to be in adult ego, whereas he is in child ego. This may create frustration both for the manager and his subordinate.
4. Parent-Parent Transaction:
If the manager has got a parent ego, he will be characterised by admonitions, rewards, rules criticisms and praise depending upon whether he has a nurturing or a critical parent ego. As, on the other hand, the subordinate has also got a parent ego, this transaction can be effective only if the subordinate joins hands with the manager and supports him.
Such a transaction can lead to some problems also. There will be unnecessary competition between manager and the subordinate. The manager will want to enforce his own ideas, whereas the employee will like to promote his own ideas rather than that of the manager.
5. Parent -Adult Transaction:
In such type of transaction, the boss has got a parent ego whereas the subordinate has got an adult ego as shown in the following figure:
Such a relationship may not last for a long period because they will be frustration on both the sides. The manager will feel frustrated because the employee will not act as directed. The employer will feel frustrated because of the manager’s failure to act as an adult.
6. Parent-Child Transactions:
The parent-child transaction is considered the ideal situation. The manager will be satisfied because he can dictate his own terms. The employee will be satisfied because he will escape from responsibility and pressure. The child ego in the subordinate presents much conflict and there will be chances of smooth working in the organisation.
In the long run, this transaction will not be advantageous. The manager will start having the feeling that the employee is not capable of doing anything on his own. The employee will start becoming frustrated because he may feel that his personality is not developed and this interaction has made him surrender his adult ego.
7. Child-Parent Transaction:
This is not a very effective style of transaction. The manager with the child ego may be creative, but the role of the manager goes beyond creativity. In the child-parent transaction, there is a reversal of roles and the employee controls the manager. As the parent ego is strong and overbearing, the manager will yield to the employee. The manager will always perceive the employee as a threat because in his mind there will always be a fear of ridicule, loss of popularity and even of demotion.
8. Child-Adult Transaction:
When the manager has a child ego and the employee has an adult ego, the adult employee will control the child manager.
The child ego in the manager will discourage the employees, particularly, when decisions are made by the manager on the basis of his whims, fancies and emotions. This will pose problems for the adult employees who want to interact on the basis of their rationality. The organisation may lose many good employees particularly those who want to act on the basis of their rationality but their managers have got a child ego.
9. Child-Child Transaction:
When the manager has got a child ego and the employees have also got a child ego, the transaction will not be long lasting. The manager in such a transaction will not be able to lead the employees successfully and will prove to be a liability to the organisation. Because of their child egos, both the employees and the manager will act on their whims and fancies. It will jeopardies the performance of the organisation. Whenever there is a review of the situation by the management, steps will be taken to change this situation.
From the above discussion it is clear that all the complementary transactions are not ideal for the organisation or for the people concerned. Adult-Adult transactions are good from the organisational and people’s point of view. In some circumstances, parent-child complementary transactions may also prove to be good.
(II) Crossed Transactions:
A crossed or non-complementary transaction is one in which the sender sends a message or exhibits a behaviour on the basis of his ego state, but this message or behaviour is reacted to by an un-compatible and unexpected ego state on the part of the receiver. Such transactions occur when the stimulus and response are not parallel.
The following figure depicts one cross transaction, which may occur in an organisational system:
In this case, the manager tries to deal with the employee on adult to adult basis, but the employee responds on child to parent basis and the communication is blocked. Crossed transactions should be avoided as far as possible. Whenever such transactions occur, communication tends to be blocked and a satisfactory transaction is not accomplished. Conflicts often follow soon afterwards. The conflicts may cause hurt feelings and frustration on the part of the parties involved and possible dysfunctional accomplishments for the organisation.
(III) Ulterior Transaction:
Ulterior transactions are the most complex because unlike complementary and crossed transactions, they always involve more than two ego states and the communication has double meaning. An ulterior transaction occurs when a person appears to be sending one type of message but is secretly sending another message. Thus, the real message is often disguised in a socially acceptable way. On the surface level, the communication has a clear adult language, whereas on the psychological level it carries a hidden message. Just like crossed transactions, ulterior transactions are also undesirable.
In a layman’s view, a script is the text of a play, motion picture or radio or TV programme. In TA, a person’s life is compared to a play and the script is the text of that play. As Shakespeare said, “All the world is a stage. And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances. Each man in his time plays many parts.”
A person’s psychological script is a life plan, a drama he or she writes and then feels compelled to live out. These plans may be positive, negative or circular-endless repetition headed nowhere. According to Eric Berne, “A script is an ongoing programme, developed in early childhood under parental influence which directs the individual behaviour in the most important aspect of his life.” “A script is a complete plan of living, offering both structures, structure of conjunctions, prescriptions and permissions and structure which makes one winner or loser in life.”
Thus, every person has a script. A person’s script may resemble a soap opera, a wild adventure, a tragedy, a sage, a farce, a romance, a joyful comedy or a dull play that bores the players and would put an audience to sleep. According to Jongeward, “Life script resembles the script of drama-characters, dialogues, actions and scenes, themes and plays, culmination towards a climax and ends in final curtain. She also uses the concept of a person’s two stages for action-the public stage and the private stage.”
McClelland produces a scientific study of life script of people who have studied the relationship between stories heard and read by children and their motives in living. His researches have shown that achievers’ scripts are based on the success stories whereas the scripts of power oriented persons are based on stories of risk.
Every person in his life time plays three basic roles which are called as the prosecutor, the rescuer and the victim. These roles can further be classified as legitimate and illegitimate.
These roles are realistically appropriate to the situation. Some legitimate roles are:
Someone who sets necessary limits on behaviour or is charged with enforcing a rule.
Someone who qualifies for a job but is denied the job because of race, sex or religion.
Someone who helps a person who is functioning inadequately to become rehabilitated and self reliant.
The roles are said to be illegitimate if they are used like masks and People use them for the purposes of manipulation.
Someone who sets unnecessary strict limits on behaviour or is charged with enforcing the rules but does so with sadistic brutality.
Someone who does not qualify for a job but falsely claims that it is denied to him because of race, sex or religion.
Someone who in the guise of being helpful, keep others dependent upon him or her.
Every person from time to time plays the part of prosecutor, rescuer and victim. A person when confronted with a particular situation acts according to his script which is based on what he expects from his life or how he views his life position. Generally, man’s behaviour becomes quasi-programmed by the script which emerges out of his life experience. This life position of a person affects his interpersonal relationships. Thus scripts play a very important role in transactional analysis.
Analysis of Life Positions:
In the process of growing up, people make basic assumptions about their own self worth as well as about the worth of significant people in their environment. These assumptions tend to remain with the person for life, unless major experiences occur to change them. Harris called the combination of assumptions about self and the other person, a LIFE POSITION.
Transactional analysis constructs the following classifications of the four possible life positions or psychological positions:
(i) I am OK, you are OK
(ii) I am OK, you are not OK
(iii) I am not OK, you are OK
(iv) I am not OK, you are not OK.
These life positions can be shown with the help of the following figure also.
1. I am OK-You are OK:
This is a rationally chosen and mentally healthy position. It appears to be an ideal life position. People with this type of life position have confidence in themselves as well as trust and confidence in others. They accept the significance of other people and feel that life is worth living. The people who have this position behave from adult, nurturing parent and happy child ego state.
When managers have this type of position, they have complete confidence and trust in their subordinates. They display a very high level of mutual give and take. They delegate authority throughout the organisation. These managers encourage free flow of communication not only up and down the hierarchy but among the peers also. In short, people with these feelings have positive outlooks on life. They seem to be happy-active people who succeed in whatever they do.
2. I am OK-You are not OK:
This is a distrustful psychological position. This position is taken by people who feel victimized or prosecuted. They blame others for their miseries. This is the attitude of those people, who think that whatever they do is correct. Such behaviour is the outcome of a situation in which the child was seriously neglected and ignored by his parents in his childhood. Criminals often have this position, based on rebellious child ego, which in extreme cases may lead to homicide also. In his life position, people operate from critical Parent Ego.
Managers operating with this position will always be negative and will give critical and oppressive remarks. They tend to point out the flaws, the bad things, rarely giving any positive feelings. They feel that workers are lazy, irresponsible and untruthful; therefore, they need to be closely controlled and often coerced to achieve organisational objectives. They do not delegate any authority and feel that decentralization is a threat.
3. I am not OK-You are OK:
This is a common position for those people who feel powerless when they compare themselves to others. People with this position always feel themselves at the mercy of others and grumble for one thing or the other. They have a tendency to withdraw, experience depression and in extreme cases become suicidal. People who have this position operate from child ego state.
Managers operating from this position, tend to give and receive bad feelings. They use these had feelings as an excuse to act against others. But when the whole thing comes out, they feel guilty for their acts and turn their bad feelings against themselves. These people are often, unpredictable and erratic.
4. I am not OK-You are not OK:
People in this position tend to feel bad about themselves and see the whole world as miserable. These people tend to give up. They do not trust others and have no confidence in themselves. This is a desperate life position. In extreme cases these people commit suicide or homicide. This is the case of individuals who were seriously neglected by their parents in their childhood and were brought up by servants. At times, persons with this life position begin to use intoxicated drugs.
Managers who operate from this position are not competent, energetic, efficient and effective. They are indecisive, confused and make stupid mistakes. They provoke others to give them negative strokes in order to relieve themselves for stresses and strains.
One of the above four life positions dominates each person’s life. The desirable position and the one that involves the greatest likelihood of adult to adult transaction is “I am OK-you are OK”. It shows healthy acceptance of self and others. The other three life positions are less mature and less effective. However, regardless of one’s present life position, the “I am OK-you are OK” position can be learnt. If all the people in the society operate from this life position, there will be hope for improved interpersonal transactions.
Stroking is an important aspect of transactional analysis. The term stroke refers to “giving some kind of recognition to the other.” Strokes are exchanged whenever two persons interact with each other. The word stroking originated from the studies of the needs that babies have for physical affection for complete psychological development. As we grow from infancy into childhood and adulthood, we do not entirely lose our need for stroking. A part of original need for physical stroking seems to be satisfied with symbolic stroking like verbal recognition and eye contact between persons.
Jongeward and Seyer observe that “People need strokes for their sense of survival and well being on the job.” Lack of stroking can have negative consequences both on physiological and psychological well being of a person.
In-fact, strokes are a basic unit of motivation because:
(i) The quantity and quality of strokes serves as either positive or negative motivation for employees.
(ii) A good share of satisfaction we get from work depends on the strokes available from other people.
(iii) We can get strokes from the activities of the work itself, especially if what we are doing really fits and we can take responsibility for it.
There are three types of strokes:
1. Positive Strokes:
The stroke that makes one feel good is a positive stroke. Recognition, approval, pats on the back are some of the examples of positive strokes. For positive results on the jobs, it is crucial to give positive strokes to people.
2. Negative Strokes:
A stroke that makes one feel bad or not good is a negative stroke. Negative strokes hurt physically or psychologically. Hating, criticing and scolding are some of the examples of negative strokes.
3. Mixed Strokes:
A stroke may be of a mixed type also. An example of combination of positive and negative strokes may be the boss’s comment to a worker “you did an excellent job in-spite your limited experience.” Excellent job is a positive stroke and lack of experience is a negative stroke.
People do not always seek positive strokes. The negative stroke completes a social transaction as they think it should be and provides social equilibrium from their point of view. People feel relieved of their guilt if they get the expected negative stroke. For example, if the subordinate has committed a mistake and his boss criticizes him for that, the subordinate will feel relieved of his mistake since the expected punishment has been received.
The supervisor will normally secure better results by giving positive strokes, like initiating an adult to adult communication. He should avoid the punishing parent to child approach. People can learn to give and receive positive strokes by making source efforts.
When people fail to get enough strokes at work they may try a variety of things. One of the most important things is that they play psychological games. According to Eric Berne, “A game “is a recurring set of transactions, often repetitions, superficially plausible, with a concealed motivation or more colloquially, a series of moves with a share or gimmick.”
James and Jongeward note that “games prevent honest, intimate and open relationship between the players. Yet people play them because they fill up time, provoke attention, reinforce early opinions about self and others and fulfill a sense of destiny.”
A psychological game is a set of transactions with three characteristics:
(i) The transaction tends to be repeated.
(ii) They make sense on superficial or social level.
(iii) One or more of the transactions is ulterior.
The set of transactions end with a predictable payoff-a negative feeling. This negative feeling generally reinforces a decision made in childhood about oneself or about others. They reflect feelings of non-oneness. Psychological games prevent people and organisations to become winners.
However, people still play psychological games in the organisations because of the following reasons:
1. To get Strokes:
Every person wants to have positive strokes on the jobs. When they are not in a position to get these strokes from the others, they try to play psychological games to satisfy their need for strokes.
2. To Strengthen Life Positions:
Games are generally played to strengthen life position which the people hold. If people hold non. OK positions, they try to emphasise it through the games. Sometimes, a person acts like a loser in order to win the game. For example, in a game of KICK ME a player provokes someone else to a putdown response.
3. To Avoid or Control Intimacy:
Some people are afraid of openness, accountability and responsibility in relationships. Such people generally play games to avoid or control intimacy, because games generally put distance between people.
Types of Games:
People play games with different degrees of intensity from the socially accepted, relaxed level to the criminal homicide/suicide level.
According to Eric Berne, following are some of the games:
(i) A first degree game is one which is socially acceptable in the agent’s circle.
(ii) A second degree game is one from which no permanent irremediable damage arises, but which the player would rather conceal from the public.
(iii) A third degree game is one which is played for keeps and which ends in the surgery, the courtroom or the morgue.
Games are programmed individually. If parent’s games are initiated, they are played from parent ego state. If the games are deliberately planned, they are played from the adult ego state. They are played from the child ego state, if they are based on early life experiences, decisions and the positions that a child takes about self and others.
Game players generally assume one of the three basic roles; prosecutor, rescuer or victim.
Prosecutors are generally those people who make unrealistic rules, enforce rules in cruel ways and pick on little guys rather than people of their own size. Victims are the people who provoke others to put them down, use them, hurt them, send them helpless message, forget conveniently and act confused. Rescuers are the people, who offer help to keep others dependent on them, do not really help others and may actually dislike helping and work to maintain the victim role so that they can continue to play rescuer.
These three roles are not independent; rather the players of psychological games often switch back and forth in their roles. On many occasions, the characteristics of these people may not be imaginary. For example, people may actually be victimised personally or discriminated against on the job. In such situations, they are the real victims. Nevertheless, actors in the psychological games assume the role of game players and differ from reality.
Methods of Preventing Games:
Since games prevent open, warm, intimate and honest relationships between players, it is essential to develop methods to discourage games in organisation.
Jongeward has suggested the following steps to overcome psychological games:
1. Avoidance of the complementary hand
2. Avoidance of acting roles involved in games particularly, victim roles.
3. Avoidance of putting other people down.
4. Avoidance of putting oneself down.
5. Giving and taking positive strokes as against negative strokes.
6. Investing more of life’s time in activities and intimacy and
7. Levelling the thinking with others.
Benefits and Utility of TA:
Transactional analysis is an approach towards understanding human behaviour. It is particularly useful in studying interpersonal relationships.
The understanding of TA can help us in the following ways:
1. Improved Interpersonal Communication:
With the help of TA people can understand their own personalities. It can help them understand why people sometimes respond as they do. With the help of TA, a manager can understand when a cross communication occurs and he can immediately take steps to convert into complementary communication. As a result there will be improvement in interpersonal communication.
2. Source of Psychic Energy:
The purpose of TA is to bring positive approach towards life and hence positive actions. A clear change can be brought from negative feelings to positive feelings. Such a change from negative attitude to positive attitude is a source of psychic energy. Thus, the application of TA can enhance the trust and credibility felt towards the organisations which are essential for good employee relations.
3. Understanding the Egostates:
With the help of TA, managers will be able to identify the ego states from which both parties are interacting. A better understanding of themselves and of other people will make them more comfortable, confident and effective. The improved interpersonal relations will make the organisation more effective. This will lead to self-development of individuals also.
TA helps in changing the managerial styles more suitable to the emergent situation. TA can be applied very successfully in motivation where it will help in satisfying human needs through complementary transactions and positive strokes. If the manager emphasises adult-adult interaction with life position “I am OK, you are OK, it will be motivating for employees and beneficial to the organisation as a whole.”
5. Organisational Development:
TA can help in organisational development process.
Jongeward has identified the role of TA in six areas of organisation development:
(i) To maintain adult transactions
(ii) To give an OK to the natural child
(iii) To identify and untangle quickly crossed transactions
(iv) To minimize destructive game playing
(v) To maximize encounters.
(vi) To develop supportive systems, policies and work environment.
TA is used in business and industry as a way to increase the capability of the executives to cope with problems and deal more sensibly with people. Besides the major area, TA can be utilized anywhere the people come to interact.
To conclude, we can say that research on TA has to be continuous and action oriented. There are many areas in organisational behaviour which are yet to be explored. The present study and existing structure merely touches the fringe of a complex subject, which has numerous dimensions. Professional expertise, academic knowledge and scientific skills are needed to explore this subject further.