Recently I had a lengthy phone conversation with a friend who wanted some help with cooking a particular dish. He’s had a few health problems recently and has decided to do a bit more home cooking with fresh ingredients instead of picking a ready-meal to microwave, but he really hasn’t cooked very much for himself at all. I talked him through all the instructions and we had a good chat about it.
After I had put down the phone, I paused for a moment and then decided to send all the instructions in a text as well. I wasn’t sure he was writing down my instructions as we spoke on the phone.
Almost immediately he sent back a text saying “I knew you would do that – just like my mother!”
On the phone we had had an “adult to adult” fun conversation about cooking and lots of other things. But the “parent” in me surfaced, and I sent him all the written instructions afterwards – just like his mother, my mother…and everyone’s mother!
So our exchange turned from “adult to adult” into “parent to child”.
How many times does that happen for each of us in our relationships?
There’s parent, adult and child in all of us. And Transactional Analysis recognises those different lines of communication, and the “scripts” that we live our lives and relationships by.
They can get very negative at times if we adopt a “critical parent” mode and the other person engages and responds from an “adapted child” mode as well.
But how much do we really recognise that for ourselves and the others we relate to?
Starting to recognise the processes can be the start of addressing relationship difficulties and recognising our own part in those exchanges.
I rang my friend back and we had another good conversation about the processes for both of us – adult to adult!
Just take a moment to review some of your recent conversations and exchanges with those around you. You might be surprised!