Act your age?

And other forms of dealing with issues

I recently read an article by Garry Platt in Training Journal ( which reminded me of what little knowledge I have of transactional analysis beyond the Adult, Parent, Child models. It also served to remind me that there are so many models and methods that essentially cover the same topic, i.e. how to deal with people both at work and in our social circles.

The common theme is that it is the way you react, rather than the other person that makes the difference. In transactional analysis acting as an adult defuses the parent and the child, and deals adult to adult should the other person manage to act that way too. One of my favourite behavioural gurus is Barry Oshry who advocates ‘taking a stand’ which is basically being aware of the other person and acting in a way that makes them more receptive to your ideas rather than reacting reflexively and blocking or rejecting them. It’s also true of behavioural safety observations; “telling” a person what is wrong is nowhere near as effective as having a conversation with them and letting them tell you what is either safe or unsafe about their actions or conditions. This conversation is as much about being an ‘adult’ as being a safety specialist. It is the way in which you act, your behaviour, that creates the conditions in which the person can be act without fear or be developed without feeling inadequate.

And this whole business of “telling” people just doesn’t fit with my own values which are based on Kolb’s Learning Cycle, where it is the personal rationalisation of an actual experience that provides the best learning.

So if everyone acted as an adult perhaps the workplace would be a more productive (in more ways than one) environment.

As ever, what do you think?

Image credit: Crimfants via flickr

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About the author

Dave Dyer

Dave Dyer is a principal consultant within the Operations Improvement team in ABB Consulting. His speciality is in bringing sustainable change and operational benefits to an organisation through the engagement of its people. He hopes to share good ideas and good practice, to inform and to learn.
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