Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Friday, 16 September 2011
It is an irony of life that man cannot live without others and yet, he cannot live with others. Along with love and fellow-feeling, human society is replete with conflicts. ‘Transactional Analysis’, a method of Group Therapy developed by Eric Berne, helps us to live and let others live, with minimum conflicts.
In this analysis, a ‘Transaction’ is larger than both conversation and communication. It includes all forms of contacts between people – social, and psychological, material and spiritual. A transaction consists of a stimulus by one person and a response by another which response in turn, becomes a new stimulus for the other person to respond. A transaction includes facial expressions, word-intonations, body movements, gestures and postures.
Transactional Analysis is the analysis of an individual’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It helps us to understand our own behaviour and to predict how others would react to a particular situation.
When we observe the behaviour of a person at different times, it appears as if there are different people inside one individual. At any particular time, one or the other of these different people seem to be in control of an individual’s total personality.
In the analysis of Berne, every one’s personality has 3 Ego States, namely Parent, Adult and Child. Here, ‘Ego’ has nothing to do with ‘ego’ in the ordinary sense; it has nothing to do with pride. It is an identification of a particular state of mind.
The Parent in a person contains the attitudes and behaviour incorporated from external sources like parents, peers, teachers, T V and other role models. The Parent is critical, mature and prejudicial. The response of this aspect of a person is automatic, almost as if a pre-recorded tape is being played in person’s brain and is directing his words and actions. He acts as he has been taught and learnt. It is a Taught concept.
The Adult in a person wants facts, gathers information, reasons things and estimates probabilities. It is cool and collected and takes decisions unemotionally. The response is analytical. The responses are well thought out. It is a Thought concept. The Adult can evaluate the Parent and the Child and can examine what is right and what should be changed.
The Child contains all the impulses that come naturally to an infant. The Child is inquisitive, affectionate, playful, selfish and manipulative. Feelings dominate the responses. It is a Felt concept.
Each of these 3 types has its sub-divisions. The’ Critical Parent’ is filled with opinions and prejudices about religion, politics, traditions, life-styles, proper dress, ways of speech etc. It is a bossy ’know-it-all’ whose behaviour intimidates the Child in the other person. In the positive side, the Critical Parent sets rules, regulations and limits which give our life stability, solidarity and a sense of security.
The ‘Nurturing Parent’ is sympathetic, protective and comforting. Its positive aspects are that it stands by the weak and encourages them to take its support and improve. However, it spoils others and makes them dependent.
The ‘Natural Child’ is what a person would be ‘naturally’, that is, if nothing influenced him. It is affectionate, impulsive and curious. It is also fearful, self-indulgent, self-centered, rebellious and aggressive. It contains a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
The ‘Little Professor’ is the unschooled wisdom of the child. It is intuitive, manipulative and creative. Little Professor and Adult make a good combination.
The ‘Adapted Child’ is the modification of a Natural Child’s inclinations due to emotional shocks, traumatic experiences and significant authority-figures. The natural expressiveness becomes covertly inhibited. The Natural Child adapts itself to the uncomfortable environment. Features of an Adapted Child are complying, withdrawing and procrastinating.
When a person is in any one of these Ego States, he exhibits certain manners and gestures which can be used as clues to identify his state of mind at that time.
All ‘Transactions’ can be broadly classified into 3 categories, namely, Complementary, Crossed and Ulterior.
A Transaction can be called ‘Complementary’, when a message sent from a particular Ego State gets the expected response from the particular Ego State in the other person. The response ‘complements’ the stimulus. A complementary Transaction may occur between any 2 Ego States.
It may be Parent-Parent when two persons are analyising any subject critically:
Sender- Do you know how much fee I am paying for my son in LKG?
Receiver- May be, it is more than the University fee for P G Course.
It may be Adult-Adult when fact-finding:
Sender- What is the time?
Receiver- It is 10.30
It may be Child-Child when having fun:
Sender- How about going for a movie?
Receiver- Oh, yes. I am ready.
Complementary Transactions are parallel and can occur between Parent-Child, Adult-Child, Adult-Parent etc. As long as the response remains the expected one, the Transactions are Complementary and tend to continue. Communication-lines remain open.
When a stimulus receives an unexpected or inappropriate response, the Transaction is ‘Crossed’.
Sender- What is the time?
Receiver- Can you not buy a watch?
Sender- Have you seen my pen?
Receiver- I am busy.
When Transactions are crossed, the person who initiated it experiences frustration. Communication breaks down and some times unpleasant clashes follow. Here the stimuli in both the cases came from Adult and the response was expected from Adult. However, both the responses came from Critical Parent and the conversation ended abruptly.
A transaction is called ‘Ulterior’ when a critical message is sent in a hidden but socially acceptable communication.
Salesman- This saree is really better but I do not know whether you can afford it.
Lady-This is exactly what I want to buy.
Here the message of the salesman is directed towards the Adult of the customer, whose Adult reply would be, “You are right; I cannot afford to buy it when my earning is so low.” However, at the psychological level, the Child in the lady is hooked and it feels, ‘Who is this fellow to decide my capacity to buy? I shall teach him a lesson.’ However, without revealing the inner feelings of the Child, the Adult comes out with the reply.
Crossed Transactions become a source of pain and result in unpleasantness. Therefore, we should analyse our own behaviour and strengthen the Adult in us. By this, we shall be able to manage our own behaviour and to influence others.
When we feel that some one is speaking from his Parent or Child Ego State, we should continue to speak from our Adult and try to hook the Adult in him. After some time, the Adult in him is bound to be aroused and the conversation will come up to an even level.
Infants will not grow normally without the touch of others. Something about being touched stimulates the infant’s mental and physical growth. As the child grows, the early hunger for physical touch becomes a hunger for recognition. A smile, a nod, a word, a gesture begin to substitute for touch. Every person, whether a child or a grown up, has the need to be touched and recognized. This hunger for touch and recognition can be appeased by what are called ‘Strokes’. Strokes can be given in the form of physical touch or by some symbolic form of recognition such as a look, a word, a gesture or any other act which says, ‘I know you are there.’
Depending on their childhood experiences, children develop certain concepts about their own worth or that of others. There are 4 possible life-positions that the individual assumes about himself and others:
- I am not ok; you are ok.
- I am not ok; you are not ok.
- I am ok; you are not ok.
- I am ok; you are ok.
This crucial decision is generally taken around the age of 5 years. Once finalized, the child remains in his chosen position and it governs every thing he does. It stays with him for the rest of his life, unless he consciously changes it.
I am not ok; you are ok.
This is the universal position of early childhood. The ‘Not ok’ feeling is the result of feelings of inferiority on account of his small size and helplessness. The ‘Ok’ feelings about others come from the positive ‘strokes’ received from parents during the first year.
The individual, who continues to remain in this position, feels he is powerless compared to others. He considers himself inferior and wants to get away from others. The Child Ego State dominates in this position.
I am not ok; you are not ok.
If the stroking disappears after the infant learns to walk, if mother is cold, if punishments are harsh and frequent, somewhere in the third year, the child will conclude, ‘I am not ok; you also are not ok’.
Such an individual gives up seeking strokes. He gets nowhere either with life or with others. He loses interest in life. He stops using the Adult in him. He concludes, ‘I am not ok and so are you; let us destroy each other.’ Such people end up either in mental hospital or in jail.
I am ok; you are not ok.
This is the life position of an individual who was brutalized by his parents and others in his child hood. He has not received any positive Strokes. The severity of the punishment drives the child to feel, ‘I will be alright if you leave me alone; I am ok by myself.”
The individual, who had such experience in childhood, strikes back when he grows up. He never accepts even genuine Strokes. Many criminals occupy this position.
I am ok; you are ok.
The individual, who operates from this life-position, is able to free himself from his original ‘not ok’ feeling. He is able to find the ‘ok’ in others and gets along well with others.
“I am ok; you are ok’ is a position and not feeling. The only way to get to this position is to expose the predicaments under the first 3 positions.
The ‘not ok’ feelings recorded in childhood cannot be eradicated completely but the effect can be reduced. An individual can acquire the ‘ok’ feeling about himself and others by assuming ‘I am ok; you are ok’ position and by activation of his Adult Ego State.
I’m Ok; You’re Ok by Thomas A Harris MD, is a best-selling self-help book
Oll Korrect., Bye Bye …. Ta … Ta J))))))))))))))
Monday, 12 September 2011
The following poem 'Blind Men and the Elephant' by John Godfrey Saxe presents the matter succinctly:
THE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT
John Godfrey Saxe's ( 1816-1887) version of the famous Indian legend,
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
The First approach'd the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"
The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -"Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"
The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he,
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"
The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!
Wednesday, 7 September 2011
Almost 30 years ago, I constructed a modest-sized house with a loan from my Bank. My job took me all over India and till my retirement, I did not have the opportunity of living in that house built with a mixture of the loan-amount and a lot of my sweat. I had found a good tenant soon after the construction was over.
After a few years, this first tenant moved to his own newly-constructed house. I was lucky in finding this tenant within a week of completion of construction but when he moved out, I went through an unenviable experience. The house was found to be too big for the middle-income group and too small for the higher income group!
Family after family inspected the house and told me that they would come and inform me “tomorrow” or “within a couple of days” but that tomorrow or those couple of days never came.
I felt like the parent of a girl of marriageable age, when families of prospective bride-grooms come to ‘see’ her, are fed well and leave, promising that they would convey their decision “within a week’ that never came. (Of course, I did not have to feed my prospective tenants.)
I could realize the plight of parents who get tired of ‘showing’ their daughters to the prospective grooms and hordes of their relatives.
I do not know how my house felt when she was rejected but I could imagine the state of the mind of a girl who had been ‘inspected’ by an unending series of prospective grooms but was still waiting for her prince charming.
Then there was the question of the rent-amount. Naturally, I expected the amount to be a little more than the earlier rent. I had to take into account the Union Finance Minister’s share in the rent by way of Income Tax.
When I told the rent-amount including the Finance Minister’s share, a few prospective tenants turned away.
I poured out my woes before a friend who happened to be an Income Tax practitioner. He listened to me patiently and suggested that I should ask such prospective tenants whether they had purchased packaged products any time. To my questioning look, he replied that till a couple of years before that, every packaged product stated the price on it and an addition ‘Local Taxes Extra’. “Similarly”, the friend suggested, “you quote your rent and add the words ‘Income Tax Extra’. If the prospective tenant says that such a practice had been abolished and the price includes taxes, you say that the Rules about indicating the price including taxes on packaged products relates to Sales Tax and not Income Tax!”
Of course after some time I did find a family willing to share my Income Tax burden.
Saturday, 3 September 2011
In 1996, I was promoted to the rank of a driver.
I joined my Bank in 1973 as a ‘D’ Grade Officer. At that time the bottom-most rank of a Bank Officer was ‘D’ Grade and she/he had to work her/his way up to Grades C, B, A – and with good performance records, to the Executive Cadres. Branch Managers were of Grades C to A. (The wife used to call me a ‘Dgraded Officer’.) Then came Pillai Committee Recommendations on Salary Structure of Public Sector Banks and Officers were put in Scale I , Managers and Senior Managers were put in Scales II and III and Executives were placed in Scales IV to VII. This is unlike the system in the Government, where it starts in the reverse gear, the lowest rung of the hierarchy, that of peons, is called Class IV , and positions above this level are called Classes III, II and I. Incidentally, it has become politically incorrect to call peons as peons; they are called 'Class IV employees'. In the same way in the Banks it has become politically correct to call 'peons' as 'sub-staff', a shortened term for 'subordinate staff'.
As long I was in Scale I, I was a walker. Like most other Officers in Scale I, I used to walk to office, usually about one kilo meter from home.
When I was promoted to Scale II, I was given charge of a Branch and the Branch had a motor cycle. So, with this promotion, I was simultaneously promoted as a rider. The promotion to Scale III did not mean simultaneous promotion as a driver. As per the rules prevailing at that time (and now also), an officer not provided with Bank-vehicle and owning a vehicle, was paid a Conveyance Allowance and one not having a vehicle of his/her own, was paid a token amount as conveyance expenses. This is jokingly called ‘walking allowance’.
All the Branches are provided with a vehicle for the use of Branch Manager. The type of vehicle provided to the Branch, whether a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler, depends on its business-position.
( I once heard about an officer of our Bank who on being pestered by his wife to buy a four-wheeler, purchased 2 two-wheelers instead, one motor cycle for himself and his son, and a moped for his wife and small daughter. “Hua na four-wheeler? Don’t two and two make four?”, he told his wife.)
A few years after being in Scale III, my Branch crossed the eligibility mark and I was provided with an official self-driven car. Thus I became a driver!
When I used to walk to the Bank, the wife used to prod me to get a two-wheeler and stop walking. When I started driving, she advised me to resume walking and in this, she was supported by our doctor!!!
When I was learning to ride a motor cycle, I remember to have hit, of all things, a cow. During that period, I have hit and killed 2 snakes and maimed a dog. Once I hit a chick and my trainer-companion advised me to speed away as fast as possible before any one noticed it; otherwise, he warned me, the owner would demand compensation for not only the chick but also of its future progeny and its subsequent generations.
One thing which in a moment of introspection I discovered about myself was that soon after starting to use a car, I had started shouting at the other users of the road although I prided myself to be a polite person with polished manners! One day, when I was driving, a boy unconcernedly continued walking almost on the middle of the road unmindful of my honking impatiently. Then I shouted, ”Hey fellow, do you want die?” Daughter II, who was sitting by my side, rolled up the wind-screen. When I asked as to why she did so, she replied, ”I don’t want that he should hear your atrocious Hindi; the movement of your face-muscles would be sufficient to convey to him what you are saying.” (At that time I was working in Bihar. Even now, the daughter picks holes in my Hindi.)
This reminds me of an anecdote. A person standing on the middle of a very busy road asked a passing traveller, “Which is the way to the hospital?” The other person replied, “Keep standing where you are; you will find yourself in the hospital soon.”
I was not sure when my Branch would be eligible for a car. So, after waiting for a few months, I took a loan from the Bank and booked the then small car, by depositing the required amount. At that time cars were not readily available and one had to wait for more than 6 months after booking it. Soon after receiving the car, I received a letter from Income Tax Department, requiring me to submit papers regarding my income and financial position. (That was the rule at that time!!! Probably car-dealers were required to inform the Income Tax Dept., the names and addresses of all those who purchased cars.) And lo and behold! One month after purchasing the car, I received an information that my Branch had become eligible and I would be provided with a Bank car, that too a new one! (Sometimes, when a Branch became eligible for a car, the bosses at the administrative office would purchase a new car, keep it at their office and send their old car to the Branch.) After the Branch car came, I sold off my car. When she glided out of my compound, I experienced a lump in my throat and a heaviness in heart.Earlier, I had taken a few photographs of me and my family with the car. These would remain as a precious treasure, carrying pleasant memories like the sweet memories of one’s first love.
It is said that creativity is like the reverse gear of a car – used very less but very essential none the less. If one thinks in a straight-jacket manner like a carriage-horse with side-views blinded, one cannot be creative; one will become only a follower of precedents. A creative person thinks laterally and many times in reverse direction. A person who later became famous, once saw dust being blown away by a strong wind. He wondered: only if the wind could be given a reverse gear! And he invented vacuum cleaner!!!
In some places, people wishing to relax, go for a long drive; in my place, the condition of roads and disregard to traffic rules are such that one can relax only after driving. It is said that when Lalu Prasad became the Chief Minister of Bihar, he had declared, “The pot-holed roads of Patna are like the cheeks of Om Puri; I shall make them like the cheeks of Hema Malini.” Whether he kept his promise, is another matter.
Do you feel that I have taken you for a ride? … Or a drive? Or up the garden path?