I’m OK and You Are OK: Effective and Ineffective Modes of Communication

Transactional Analysis is still one of the main corner stones of and updated by many modern communication and personality models (I am a certified coach of one of those, but not eager to write professional texts in English myself).

You can read the whole article here: Transactional Analysis /www.businessballs.com

Effective and ineffective modes of communication

Definition of ‘Effective’

By effective, we mean that:

  • a communication is likely to achieve the intended response or result. Information is received, necessary action(s) follow and good relationships are maintained or developed
  • communication will (if necessary and desired) be able to continue – either now or later
  • each party to the communication, whether they agree with each other (or not) or like each other (or not) maintains an I’m OK, You’re OK position.

Definition of ‘Ineffective’

By ineffective, we mean that any/all of the following apply:

  • the intended communication is not understood the person receiving the communication is themselves invited into a “not OK” position or invited to make someone else “not OK”
  • communication may be broken in some way and so does not continue, or it escalates to even more discomfort or misunderstanding for those involved. In extreme cases the rift may be permanent
  • what needs to be done is less likely to be done – or may be done incorrectly.

 Effective modesTA-modes-model-mountain

To help you understand the TA OK Modes Model and to avoid having to keep scrolling back up the page, the diagram is repeated alongside the explanation below. It’s the same diagram.

Note that the ineffective Modes are quite logical and easy to understand when seen as negative or unhelpful extremes of the correlating effective Modes. For example, being overly Supportive quite naturally equates to Interfering; Being overly Playful quite naturally equates to Recklessness.

Mindful Process – Not a Mode, this is a requirement or condition enabling effective Modes to be accessed/used. When we are operating mindfully, we communicate ‘OK to OK’ messages. We operate appropriately in the here-and-now and have access to the positive aspects of the care and structure we have received in the past and the experiences we had in childhood (Deelia: referring to the the parent, adult and child themes also explained in the article). As this Mindful process is here-and-now, we are able to choose which of the effective Modes of behaviour to draw from, dependent on the situation. When we are stable in this Mindful process we respond appropriately rather than ‘flipping’ or switching (generally unconsciously) into an Ineffective Mode.

Each of the effective Modes, dependent on the Mindful Process, communicate “I’m OK and You’re OK”.

Structuring Mode – This is the boundary setting Mode, offering constructive criticism. In this Mode we are caring whilst firm.

Supporting Mode – When in this Mode we are affirming and considerate.

Co-creating Mode – From this Mode we develop ways to help us live and work with others.

Playful Mode – This is the creative, fun loving, curious and energetic Mode. We can confront people playfully as a way of dealing with a difficult situation. This can diffuse a potential problem and get the message across.

When working with others we can choose where we come from (communicate from).

Effective communication happens when we are in a Mindful Process.

If someone else invites us, because of how he/she communicates to us, to go into an ineffective (red) Mode, importantly, we don’t have to go there, we can instead ‘cross the transaction’ and come from (respond from) one of the green Modes.

Ineffective modes

The ineffective (red) Modes all emanate from outdated experiences, which are not relevant or appropriate in the present.

Criticizing Mode – communicates a “You’re not OK” message. When in this Mode you will believe that others cannot do things as well as you can, or perhaps only certain chosen people can. If you lead from this position you are unlikely to develop a loyal supportive team or culture.

Inconsistent Mode – As a leader we might be inconsistent in our style – changing our behaviour in unpredictable and apparently random ways. This is not helpful for followers (or leaders).

Interfering Mode – communicates a “You’re not OK” message. When in this Mode the person will often do things for others which they are capable of doing for themselves. People who find it difficult to delegate might be in this Mode.

Over-adapted Mode – This expresses an “I’m not OK” or “I’m not OK and You’re Not OK” message. When in this Mode we over-adapt to others and tend to experience such emotions as depression or unrealistic fear and anxiety. When in this Mode we are unlikely to make good team members and will be highly stressed if we have to manage others.

Oppositional Mode – Even when opposing others, we are not actually free to think for ourselves as we are reacting to them in the belief that we need to ‘resist’ them. It is important to be clear that this is not simply about being in disagreement, but a style of going against whatever others put forward.

Reckless Mode – In this Mode we run wild with no boundaries. Here we express a “You’re not OK” message. At work we tend not to take responsibility for our actions and are unlikely to progress as we need a great deal of management in order to focus our energy and keep boundaries.

© Chris Davidson, Anita Mountain (Mountain Associates) original content and diagrams other than where stated, Alan Chapman edit and contextual material, 2000-13. Transactional Analysis theory was developed by Dr Eric Berne in the 1950s. The Blame Model was developed by Jim Davis TSTA. The OK Corral model was developed by Franklin Ernst. The 2011 Transactional Analysis OK Modes Model and diagram is © Mountain Associates, 2010-13. Please retain this notice on all copies.

Other links:

The Official ITAA Website

Transactional-Analysis, The Personality Tests of T.A. (link corrected)

Wikipedia

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