Understanding Human Behaviour and the Winning Recipe for Success
In the earlier stages of my career, I was young and naive, and understood very little about the different personalities that I encountered daily.
I quickly became fascinated by human behaviours and I often wondered about what makes people act the way they do, what makes them tick and after hours of research I realised there are no clear-cut answers to these questions. This is because there are so many variables that influence these aspects.
I was lucky to attend a very interesting occupationally directed workshop for leaders.
The pre-requisite at the time was only directed to employees in leadership roles, however there were so many missed opportunities.
One of the many concepts I had the privilege to learn was the Ego State and the benefits of these in daily interactions.
In every one of us there are 3 main ego states that embody our behaviours. These are the Parent, Adult and Child ego states. This can be further drilled down to a secondary layer.
The Parent ego state are behaviours, thoughts and feelings which are usually copied from parents or parental figures and can be distinguished in the graphic below.
This made so much sense to me as I could easily identify from my upbringing that my father was the critical parent and my mother was the nurturing parent, however these could be different for each family.
Considering this association, let us dive deeper using the following scenario:
I received my report card for the school term, and my average results ranked in the mid 70th percentile. At this point I did not know whether this is good or bad, nor I did care.
Showing this to my mother (nurturing parent), she was so proud of me and acknowledged my hard work and the time I put in during the examination period. I was care free to enjoy my midterm break.
Later that evening, with the excitement of my mother's words resonating through my mind, I showed my report card to my father (critical parent). It was the most confusing moment for me as a child, when he did not share the same enthusiasm as my mother. His voice became stern with patronising remarks, asking me “Do you think this is something to be proud of?”, he went on to ask me a few more questions in a tone that quickly indicated to me that it would be best, not to answer.
Now analysing the scenario above, it may seem like the critical parent is being very nasty and you would most likely link it to the fact that he may have had a bad day at the office, or he doesn’t understand the complexity of the examination. This is a usual defence mechanism that we as human’s resort to by default as this lessens the impact of the situation. “It’s not ME, it’s him”.
Contrary to popular belief there is a place for both these ego states to co-exist. The nurturing parent helps build the confidence whilst the critical parent drives performance and results.
The issue with the scenario above is simply a matter of timing.
It would have been best for me to show my report card to my father first, it would not change his reaction, however the comfort that I receive from my mother afterward would surely have lessened the impact to my confidence.
The Adult ego state are behaviours, thoughts and feelings which are direct responses to the here and now, usually task orientated.
In practical terms, this ego state allows us to just get the job done with no emotion only results orientated. This ego state is where we are optimally thinking and effortlessly performing as there are no ambiguities regarding the task.
The Child ego state are behaviours, thoughts and feelings replayed from childhood memories.
These ego states are directly linked to the dominant parent style in the household which a child is raised and exposed.
In cases where the nurturing parent was mostly dominant, the notorious child ego state often referred to as the free child, is cultivated. The free child as described above usually display skills that foster innovation, impulsiveness and all round FUN! The free child lives in each one of us, and is often seen during the holidays.
In households where the critical parent is mostly dominant, the rebellious child becomes active. Generally, this can be easily relatable when dealing with teenagers. This behaviour is born on the premise that the individual cannot take the torture, built up in their minds, of having someone constantly controlling, judging and patronising them.
Looking back at my youth I acknowledge that I was the product of a dominant critical parent household, which saw me rebel so often that eventually the rebellion did not make sense anymore.
Finally, the adaptive child, which is born from an equally strong nurturing and critical parent. The result is confusion in the mind of a child as they are not sure which way is correct. If you look closely in your social circles, you would most probably identify this person in your group. In my experiences, this person is not decisive and is often seen as aligning to the majority, usually afraid to make the wrong choice even when there is no wrong choice.
I have found that by understanding the 6 ego states, you are more prepared to deal with all types of individuals irrespective of their dominant ego state. When practiced consciously, it can effectively change the outcome of almost every interaction to become more meaningful and worthwhile.
I have tried many different combinations of the ego states to help me and the most successful recipe is to start all interaction with the nurturing parent, this allows you to build rapport and support you to move into adult mode. This is the time get to the point of the conversation as both parties are ready for the task and finally end of with the nurturing parent to ensure that the invite for further interactions is welcomed.
The winning formula: Nurturing Parent -> Adult -> Nurturing Parent
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned missed opportunities.
Do you see any other opportunity that this can be used aside from the workplace?
Many organisations provide the correct learning programme and workshops; however, to reap the rewards of this, the culture of the organisation must be supportive for employees to practice the newly acquired knowledge.
This has had an impact with the interactions in my household and by using the winning formula, this has helped me become an effective parent, which is truly amazing.
What ego state do you consider yourself to be most dominant, in the work place?
What ego state do you consider yourself to be most dominant, at home?
For further information on related articles, refer to the links below:
- Chapter 3 – Being Human in the World of a Corporat...
Soon after my journey of Self Reflection and making the conscious decision to leave the corporate world, I became determined to pass on my knowledge and experiences for others to learn and share.
© 2020 Mitara N