Transactional Analysis

by Len Horridge

Your ego state

Your ego state, or at least the score you got from our questionnaire, is only an indicator. Your state will change, partly in response to the person with whom you are interacting and also depending on how strong your preference is for any particular state.

You may well now be in a position to consider what your predominant state is and how it impacts on others. Remember, no one state is right or wrong. However, some people have an overriding state that can impact negatively on their transactions with others and therefore their own performance levels. In some extreme cases, it may affect their enjoyment of their role and their life.

Please do not beat yourself up about your preferred ego state; this is not an in-depth psychological analysis, just an indicator of one theory of people’s behaviours. It should be seen as a tool to help you improve through realising certain things about yourself. Bear in mind, however, that you completed the questionnaire yourself and it is only a surface questionnaire, so we are not suggesting it is completely accurate.

So look at the results, make a note of your ego state score and see what you can learn from it. Below are a few suggestions.

Analysing your score

The first obvious use is to analyse your scores and see if there is anything you need to alter.

Berne would look for a ‘balanced’ score of the three egos; if your scores are similar, there is probably a balance to your approach which suggests a balanced ability to adapt to each different situation you face.

Parent score

If you have a high parent score, you may want to consider the impact on others and perhaps even yourself. In business, the heavy parent state suggests not trusting others, wanting to do things for others and a potential time management problem.

A low parent score, on the other hand, could suggest a reluctance to take on responsibility and control.

Child score

A high child score could suggest an emotional approach that will lead to decisions based on instinct (not always bad) and broken relationships.

A low child score could suggest that you need to let out some emotion, along with a build up of stress and problems (psychologists talk of ‘getting in touch with your inner child’).

Adult score

A high adult score is mostly good but may suggest that you could be too cold and unemotional.

Changing states

When considering the implications of your score, you need to ask yourself some questions:

  • What is my dominant state?
  • Do I really need to change?
  • How does this impact on others?
  • How does this impact on outcomes?
  • What could I achieve if I changed?
  • What could I improve if I changed?
  • How do I get them to change?

And if you have a strong preference for a particular ego state, well, so what?

In many cases, it may not matter, but think of this: how would you feel if you got a different response from a relationship?

Remember your response to school teachers. Was it a parent to child transaction? Assuming this was so, if you met them again today, what would the transaction be? You may be older and more mature, but you might resort to type and become a child again.

Is your response helpful?

With any relationship, we may go into the same games, which are simply methods of replaying what we expect from the relationship.

When you go back to see parents, do you behave like their child? When you meet people in authority, do you behave like someone who respects authority?

Or, to see it from the other perspective, do you expect or demand respect from others? If you don’t get it, what is your response?

How would it be if you changed your state and expectations in these situations?

This is what the analysis is all about: is your ego state holding you back, helping you or hindering you? If you changed your state, what different response would you get and would you be happy with that?

If you are not happy with a relationship/transaction, how might a change in your ego state impact on that and potentially improve it?