What I love about Transactional Analysis (TA)

For those who came of age after the 70’s, Transactional Analysis is probably not even on the radar screen. TA, known for the widespread memes of ‘I’m OK – You’re OK,’ ‘Inner Child,’ ‘Life Scripts,’ and ‘Games People Play,’ had a profound impact on personal growth, psychotherapy, and even the EST seminars which have morphed over time into Forum and Landmark. TA is one of the Communication Models I was studying when I gave the name Communication Modeling to the profession of learning how to make work and personal relationships successful.

Just today in a life-coaching session I rediscovered what it is that I love so much about TA.

My client wants to design a life in which she will be happy. We talk about what is going on now in her life, including visits to her family, which provide insight also into her past.

With TA language, and the knowledge about how we develop our individual personalities against a backdrop of family and culture, I could speak directly to and about the Child, and the Parent and Adult, that form a whole grownup personality. The profound realizations, the next steps for my client as the resourceful woman she is, the understanding of how things make sense from a Child point of view, open doors to designing that life that she wants to lead.

The issues that block her are very clear and workable from this perspective. She can own complete responsibility for her actions and what she wants while I can provide new information that she did not receive the first time around.

Her grownup self can take care of her child self in such a way that she keeps the best of her early parenting and adds new aspects that give her consistent internal support.

Rather than getting caught up in the stories about the others in her life and how they are treating her, we can work from the center out. She can see the concentric circles of how she recreates old patterns. And she can learn what to do about it.

TA is known for simple, direct language. But it is not simplistic; it is understandable and recognizable to real human beings. It takes a decent amount of training to be good with TA, as with anything. It aims at high ideals, at healthy development, ok-ok relationships, autonomy and interdependence.

Although TA did not get a lasting foothold in academic psych, it is being taught and learned by people and helping professionals around the world. Perhaps the people who establish standards for counseling and psychotherapy – not to mention life coaching -are missing out on a major stepping stone when they overlook TA.

The USA Transactional Analysis association is launching introductory TA trainings around the country, as well as co-sponsoring a conference on Redecision Therapy and TA in November in New Orleans (go to www.redecisionconference.org for more info.).
As a coach, therapist, counselor… or modeler of communication, it’s worth checking out.

Competent Coaches, Diverse Clientele – an evening with NorCal Professional Coaches and Mentors Association (PCMA)

When I was invited to speak at the San Francisco meeting of the PCMA, I didn’t know what to expect. Would these be business or life coaches, backgrounds in business, therapy, training? Are they really practicing their craft or wannabees talking to each other? Would they be open or more competitive? Are they steeped in a particular model and interpreting the world through that lens?

The experience of the evening was a very pleasant and interesting one. The volunteers running the meeting greeted me and helped me get all the equipment situated, making sure I had a place at the dinner table. Lively conversations were going on at every table. Some members were continuing discussions that had begun in pre-meeting interest groups, including a learning lab on neuroscience with friend and colleague Janet Crawford.

A few familiar faces appeared and we renewed our acquaintance. Each person with whom I spoke knew at least several facets of coaching and were eager to share material. Among other topics, we touched on Somatic Coaching, Five Rhythms and Strozzi forms of movement awareness, Spiral Dynamics, differentiated from Five Dynamics, the Kolbe Conative Index, the Enneagram, and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. These people had a broad understanding of the field as well as their specialties.

When we did activities as part of my program, people engaged enthusiastically. They shared ahas and insightful questions. I felt comfortable in the community of peers.

Early in my talk, I asked the group what kinds of clients they were serving. Answers included
-business leaders
-healthcare professionals
-architects
-lawyers
-county and local government employees
-federal Health and Human Services employees
-accountants
-engineers
-sales professionals
and a few more.

Even in what we are calling a down economy, coaches inside and outside organizations are assisting clients in many fields. This form of learning and development, introduced in many workplaces beginning in the late 90’s, has apparently taken root.

With the overload of information and stimuli, increasing global and technical acceleration, and pressure-filled personal lives, one-on-one coaching appears to be a time-value activity that keeps people afloat. Rather than the remedial solution that used to signal a likely firing, coaching is a perk for the upwardly mobile and the people who are being stretched thin by expanding responsibilities.

It is a healthy sign for our society and organizational cultures if this is so. Many more executives, managers, and HRD departments would do well to take advantage of the available resources.

Vetting a coach is a skill set in itself, and should not be taken lightly. Competence and chemistry are very important. Potential coach clients should use references and their intuition in early conversations to determine whether a coach’s offer is right for them.

With this caveat in mind, I have to say that the roomful of people who attended my talk this week struck me as highly competent, clear on what they could offer, learning from and with each other, and probably a great referral source for people in the SF Bay area ready to check out working with a coach.

I am available to refer prospective clients to coaches based on a personal knowledge of various people’s work. Contact me at syntaxoffice@syntx.com and I will be glad to provide names of excellent Bay Area and East Coast coaches.

Optimize Your (Team’s) Time and Talent

What manager hasn’t suffered with the planning or execution of important meetings, having people nitpick or go off on tangents or engage in needless conflict?
I am a PROCESS COACH and help you and your team make the most of your time and talent. Calculate the cost of the talent in the room and the ROI of using a process coach becomes clear.
Contact me to pursue the possibilities for you, your team, your clients. We can partner to get great results through the Five Essentials of Good Groups. Also check out our book, Smart Work: The Syntax Guide for Mutual Understanding in the Workplace (Kendall-Hunt). See www.syntx.com for Syntax, the system we use.
Looking forward to hearing from you and smoothing the path to great results with good people!

Recent feedback:
Lucy Freedman possesses that rare quality of being able to lead and follow at the same time. In the space of only two days, she turned one dozen highly creative, independent, and successful entrepreneurs into a productive, unified team, with everyone smiling, pleased with themselves individually and everyone else as a group. I am still amazed at her organizational development skills. I got to watch a master at work.

Anne Teachworth, Southeast Rep, USATAA Council
Director, Gestalt Institute of New Orleans/New York
Fellow, American Psychotherapy Assn.
Author, Why We Pick The Mates We Do

Conscious Communicators Create the New World

How we communicate is not only how we get results for ourselves – how we communicate adds up to how the world communicates, what principles are manifested, and how our society works.
Our mental landscapes – consciousness, belief systems, knowledge, curiosities – set the limitations and possibilities of our lives. When we communicate we engage with everyone else’s landscapes to produce the reality we live in.
Hence it is stunning how unconscious most of us are about what comes out of our mouths. We tend to be run by imprinted patterns which may have been consciously learned or decided at an earlier time in our lives but have been forgotten. Especially if we experience the outside world as controlling us, determining our mood and our fate, what we say and do is pretty much set.
Communication Modeling is about being conscious and making new choices, expanding our ability to utilize our faculties in the moment, and to design our personal and working lives the way we desire. Many communication models have emerged since the 1960’s. Each one has added new distinctions and helpful strategies. Watch this blog for discussion, application, exploration, and information about how Communication Modeling keeps us growing as healthy social beings. Change comes from new memes and actions by the people, not from government or corporations.