Transactional Analysis‘ is a subject for psychologists. It helps them to understand the mind of their patients. In professional life, the managers and team leaders also must understand this subject well.

It will help them to get superior output from their team members, as well as from business stakeholders.

Every individual is different and unique, but at the same time, we are always in need to create a bridge of understanding with others in order to fulfil our various professional and personal interests.

The more we can get control over our emotion and gauge the emotional status of others, the more we will get the desired result out of our ‘transactions’.

Meaning of Transaction in Transactional Analysis

The other morning, I went to a local shop and asked for a packet of biscuits. The shop owner passed it to me, in turn, I paid him the money. This entire activity was a ‘transaction’ in the material world.

On the other hand, when we talk about ‘Transactional Analysis’, we particularly refer to our verbal and non-verbal communications with other people.

We generally see that when two or more people gather in a place, they usually start emitting verbal or non-verbal signals to each other. People usually greet, smile or show some kind of body gesture or any other indication acknowledging the other’s presence around him. 

These gestures are called ‘Transactional Stimulus’. What the other people do in response to these stimuli is called ‘Transactional Response’.

Transactional Analysis is the method to study these interactions (transactions) within people.

Photo by from Pexels

Why Bother About Transactional Analysis

Transactional Analysis is a psychological theory that deals with the mental/psychological components in our daily transactions. 

In our daily life, whenever we interact with people or react to a situation, we express a particular mental status of that moment. Some of these interactions make us happy, but some does not revert with the desired response.

We sometimes fail to get the best result or miss to develop the best relationship with the people around us. What goes wrong in all those cases? 

We try to figure that out. But many times encounter biased findings, placing ourselves in a safeguarded position. As a natural tendency, seldom we position ourselves ‘at a fault’.

Analyzing these failed interactions under the light of ‘Transactional Analysis’ would equip us with a better understanding of ourselves and the behaviour of others. Consequently, we will get more success in our professional and personal life in terms of People Management.

Transactional Analysis and Self Behaviour Retuning  

 Understanding ‘Transactional Analysis’ in the beginning can help us to understand our behaviour/reaction very clearly in any circumstances. Next, we can also understand/predict the behaviour/reaction of the others as a response. 

As a result, we will be in a position to control and modify (retune) our ‘Transactional Stimulus’. Therefore,’ Transactional Response’ from the others will also be favourable in most of the cases.

Structure of Every Inner Self

‘Transactional Analysis’ consider our inner self as a package of three separate personalities within us, any two of them can be in the active state simultaneously. 

These are our ‘ego states’. We all are reflecting the presence of our ‘ego states’ at every moment during our transactions.

‘Parent’, ’Child’ and ’Adult’ (as Dr Berne, the creator of the ‘transactional analysis’ described them) are these three separates ‘ego states’ that drives the stimulus and response in our every transaction.

Transactional Analysis structure
Image by Debasis Gupta and human png from

What Does This 3 Ego States Mean

Our brain is like a computer with a big data bank. When we were child, we had parent or guardian to guide us every moment.

Psychologists say we follow the instructions of our parent without any question up till the age of five. 

During this period, we also observe and perceive the happenings around us. We preserve the findings in our memory.

After the fifth year, we start questioning and validating the taught concepts with our experiences and experiments. 

In the later part of life, all these collections of experiences, emotions and perceptions govern our behaviour, creating three traceably different ‘states’ within our personality.

Parent Ego State (P): 

Since during these five years a child majorly spends time with a parent or parent like guardians and observe/experience their transactions, the child records all these events. 

Later part of life, during a transaction, whenever this ego state surface out, we don’t question the validity of the subject.  Majorly take decisions based on the concepts taught by or experienced by the parent/guardian.

We all follow many instructions as we were taught in our childhood by the parent. For example, instructions like (a) Don’t talk to unknown people or (b)Look both ways before crossing the road. These are the actions of our ‘Parent ego state’.

Child Ego State(C):  

Our memory of the first five years, events coupled with emotions and feelings are recorded as per the understanding and perception of the child.

Later whenever we recall the events, it comes back with those emotions and feeling.

We may not always recall them consciously, they exist in the deep of the memory and pop up in our situational behaviour. 

It is principally dealing with a child’s feeling or perception, hence called a felt concept. For example, as perceived in our childhood, we lifelong keep on being scared of the ghost in the darkness of night, particularly when alone. 

Like that, many more perceptions of childhood got embedded in our mind and reflect in our behaviour/response constantly.

Adult Ego State (A):

This is our learned concept. From one year of age, we start learning by doing or analyzing activities and in this process, we start validating the data of Parent (taught)and Child (perceived). 

For example, a parent taught a child not to step on a wet floor and when the child sees someone slips and fall on the wet floor, the child’s ‘adult ego state’ validates the ‘taught’ data.

Transactional Analysis Process

When we communicate with another person, the first person initiates it (stimulus) and the other person receive it and respond. 

In the simplest process of transactional analysis, identify the ‘ego state’ of the first person during initiation of stimulus and the ‘ego state’ of the second person during receiving and response is most important.

Successful Transactions

Communications between ‘ego states’ like Parent-Child has no problem. For example, when a baby is hungry and communicates the need for food through some non-verbal gesture, the mother can understand it clearly and feed the child.

Child-Parent ego state
Image by Debasis Gupta and Kelly Sikkema & Katie Smith on Unsplash

In another event, a surgeon in the operation theatre just hold out his hand and the supporting nurse put the right instrument on that hand understanding the requirement of the surgeon at that moment. 

A Nurse can do it because of his training and previous experience. 

This is an example of Adult-Adult communication. 

Both examples stated above are healthy and normal communications.

Adult-Adult ego state in transactional analysis
Image by Debasis Gupta and Evelina Zhu from Pexel

But we know all our communications are not like that. We face conflicts frequently in our life. The reason for those conflicts is cross communications between ‘ego states’. 

For example, let us imagine a communication between a husband and wife. ‘Adult’ husband asks ‘Adult’ wife : 

“ Do you know where my spectacles are?” 

Unfortunately, instead of ‘Adult’ wife, ‘Child’ wife receives the question and respond targeting to ‘Parent’ husband:

“ I haven’t shifted then anywhere. You blame me for everything !”

That is cross-communication. It can create trouble depending on which ‘ego state’ of the husband receives the response of the ‘Child’ wife. 

In case the receiving ‘ego state’ of the husband is ‘Parent’ or ‘Adult’, then there will probably no problem, but if it is ‘Child’  a conflict may arise.

transactional analysis title photo
Image by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash and ppt png from and Debasis Gupta

Importance of Non-verbal signals in Transactional Analysis

Along with verbal transactions, non-verbal transactions also have a very important role to get the desired response.

Non-verbal signals are the facial expression, body gesture and the way words are delivered ( i.e. tone, accents, volume etc.). 

These are of immense value in transactional analysis to identify the ‘ego states’. 

Psychologists say that in communication, the importance of actual words used is only 7 per cent. Facial expression plays a 55 per cent role and, the way of delivery contributes 38 per cent.

Finally, it is up to us to understand, imbibe and apply to strike a better deal during our next ‘transaction’. Thanks for your reading.