We are delighted to receive the news that the International Transactional Analysis Association has selected Janice Dowson as the recipient of this year’s Muriel James Living Principles Award.
Here is an excerpt from her nomination:
Janice has made significant contributions to transactional analysis, the ITAA, and the TA worldwide community. In doing so, and in her personal life, she has consistently lived the principles of TA, including demonstrating clear Adult thinking, joyful creativity, compassionate ethics, and a lack of gaminess in transactions.
She models egalitarian relationships and promotes an “I’m OK, You’re OK” atmosphere in both professional and personal arenas and has thereby improved the quality of life and development of individuals, groups, and the community at large. She has, in many ways, been active in the international advancement of the principles of transactional analysis both professionally and personally.
Although Janice’s many contributions would qualify her for other ITAA awards, this one is particularly meaningful because of Janice’s warm personal relationship with Muriel, including staying in touch and visiting her during Muriel’s later years.
In addition to the three primary nominators—Lucy Freedman, Charlotte Daellenbach, and Bill Cornell—the following ITAA members and friends are supporting this nomination: Inger Acking. Tom Burton, Leonard Campos, Richard Erskine, Felipe Garcia, Thorsten Geck, Robert Hempel, Gloria Noriega, and Reiko True.
Congratulations to Janice and much appreciation for all you do to support TA, NATAA, and ITAA!
TA has had a transformational impact on our personal journey and professional growth. And we believe that the basic principles of worth, value, and dignity of every human being are more important than ever in today’s world! People want to learn TA, but for many of them, there are serious obstacles to participating in a TA 101: the expense, the need to travel to a course, or the unavailability of a course at a manageable time. Now we have a solution!
We plan to create an online, on-demand 101 course based on the social action TA 101 presented at the conference in Raleigh by Graham Barnes, Vann Joines, Valerie Batts, and Felipe Garcia. It will be a streamable and accessible video training. Subscribers will have 24-hour access to the teaching material and thus be able to receive this incredible education! And the social applications of TA will be important to students and advanced practitioners across all fields of specialization around the world. ITAA’s recent partnership with NATAA opens possibilities for expanding access to these educational opportunities.
We want to make TA education widely accessible to people working within and living in traditionally underserved communities. This project is not just for the good of TA in the United States but for the good of TA worldwide! We want to include in this project as many people from as many countries and TA organizations as possible. But to do this, we need your help— intellectually, emotionally, and financially.
This effort is well underway! To date, in addition to a $5000 grant from the ITAA’s Eric Berne Fund for the Future, we have generous donations and pledges from Carol Solomon, Gloria Noriega, Laurie and Jonathan Weiss, Marina Rajan Joseph, John Evans, Marion Weisberg, Chirstopher Zimmerman, Ildiko Galter, Abe Wagner, Brenda Barry, Janice Dowson, Bob Hempel, Inger Acking, Reiko True, and Jessica Leong.
We are excited about the possibilities of contributing to the world in a new way and entering the 21st century with an OK-OK vision. We hope you are too. Together we can make a difference!
Janice Dowson, Inger Acking, Reiko True, Cheryl Leong, and Bob Hempel, IESA Committee Members, and Felipe Garcia and Laurie Weiss, Ad Hoc Consultants
The colored pencil drawing of Eric Berne was done by Takeharu Matsunaga, from Shizuoka Prefecture near Mt. Fuji in Japan. Takeharu was inspired by the ego state changes and emotions he saw in online videos of Dr. Berne and was inspired by his determination to bring TA to the public. We thank Takeharu for sharing his image with the IESA committee.
Knowing how to play is one of the characteristics found in NATAA members, and especially, our Council. We spent two days meeting in Tucson this spring, covering everything from membership and budget to social media and visions for the future. We even beamed in Cheryl Leong from San Francisco by laptop for part of the meeting. Thanks to Dianne Maki for making comfortable and fun arrangements. As you can see, we enjoy each other’s company as well as our productive work.
“The OK Boss” is one of Muriel James’ many reader-friendly guides on how to apply TA to everyday life situations. As she states in the introduction, “ At one time or another, almost everyone is a boss: Parents, spouses, teachers, and employers”. Here, she shows you how you can become an OK boss using TA techniques, using stories and familiar workplace scenarios that so many can relate to. The objective is for the reader to recognize the bossing styles of others and of themselves, to understand their behaviors, and their OK and not OK attitudes at work and at home.
The Critic—from (not OK) Critical Dictator to (OK) Informed Critic
The Coach—from (not OK) Benevolent Dictator to (OK) Supportive Coach
The Shadow–from (not OK) Loner to (OK) Liberator
The Analyst—from (not OK) Computer to (OK) Communicator
The Pacifier—from (not OK) Milquetoast to (OK) Negotiator
The Fighter—from (not OK) Punk to (OK) Partner
The Inventor—from (not OK) Scatterbrain to (OK) Innovator
With each bossing style, Muriel James covers the personalities (ego states), how each type gives strokes, transaction patterns, games bosses play, life positions/scripts bosses act, appropriate contracts and time structuring. At the end of each chapter, there are 3 areas touched upon. Self Discovery: Analyzing yourself and your behaviors. What to do: How to change, with the underlying message of ‘you have the power to make different choices for different outcomes’. Guidelines for effective and efficient bossing: Characteristics of the OK boss in relation to the area discussed.
“The OK Boss” is an older text, but certainly a gem. A little of the wording may show as a bit dated, however the material is easily applied to today’s workplaces. It’s a book not only for the bosses in the world, but also for those who have a ‘boss’ in their lives.
My favorite part was seeing the many illustrations sprinkled throughout each section. I loved how the structural diagrams were made to look like side profiles of faces, and the expressions and thought bubbles really brought the concepts to life.
***Blog posts on The NET represent the viewpoint of the author and have not been verified or endorsed by NATAA.***
Eric Berne is known for coining the term ‘strokes’. He explained it as a basic unit of recognition. It was believed that human beings were born with an innate stimulus hunger. Experiments in the 1940s suggested that infants failed to thrive in environments where physical stimulation was limited. This hunger for touch develops to become a hunger for recognition in social and intimate relationships.
These were the types of strokes that Eric Berne described.
Internal strokes (strokes we give ourselves)
External strokes (strokes we give to others)
Unconditional strokes (strokes for being)
Conditional strokes (strokes for doing)
Positive strokes (strokes that communicate okayness)
Negative strokes (strokes that communicate not-okayness)
Claude Steiner is known for theorizing the ‘stroke economy’. He suggests that we can be restricted by the parent ego state in five main ways:
don’t give strokes when we have them to give
don’t ask for strokes when we need them
don’t accept strokes if we want them
don’t reject strokes when we don’t want them
don’t give ourselves strokes
These five ‘rules’ reinforce a culture of scarcity as opposed to how limitless strokes can be given and received. I once encountered someone from a chaotic household and that led to him making an early decision to “trust no one to care.” His script beliefs were entrenched in ideas of stroke scarcity and that happy interactions were close to impossible. I invited him to take on a little experiment for the week. He would try for 7 days and every morning to smile at one person on the way to work on the bus. To his astonishment, people smiled back! There were no threats, exchanges or bartering. The strokes were limitless.
TA literature describes the ‘stroke filter’ as a contaminated Adult ego state process where the person chooses to interpret positive strokes as negative ones. This maintains their particular life position.
What are STROKE PROCESSORS?
This write-up suggests a clear way to facilitate for clients to understand how their life scripting (early decisions about themselves and the world) might affect their Adult ego state functioning. The Adult ego state might be processing strokes in 4 different ways:
Processing the intended stroke as much more important or significant than intended. An individual could take a simple greeting smile from another as a sign of sexual flirtation. Or an individual could take a piece of Adult negative feedback as a Critical Parent insult.
Brian was regularly playing some ‘kick me’ games at dance night clubs. His eyes would scan the room for attractive women who would respond to his smile. He would interpret each smile as a green light for close contact dancing or an invitation for intimate conversation. Often the women would interpret his behavior as inappropriate.
Processing the intended stroke as less important or significant than intended. An individual could downplay a compliment or ignore the significance of a negative complaint.
Sam had an ‘under-achieving’ life script. His early decision to not succeed led to him to perpetually discount his personal intelligence and abilities. Each time a colleague complimented his ability he would minimize its significance in his mind. “They are just being nice.”
An individual could take a negative stroke and interpret it as positive or take a positive stroke and interpret it as negative. For example, an individual could take a compliment as a reminder of how they are not-ok.
Susie was constantly nervous about her appearance. Nothing ever felt enough for the world- even if she was told otherwise. She always had makeup on even when she went to bed. Her husband tried to tell her he loved her but all she could think was- “he wouldn’t love me without the makeup.” “Don’t be you or else…”- she continually told herself. Her husband’s unconditional positive strokes were converted as conditional strokes and further processed as negative strokes.
An individual could select the strokes they want to absorb and the ones they want reject.
Grace, an employee, got her first employee appraisal and all she chose to hear were the negative strokes. She decided she was a terrible worker even after her manager had a ton of positive feedback to offer.
Bringing these ‘stroke processors’ to the awareness of the client can be effective for decontaminating the adult ego state. It can allow for an exploration of the life script, early stroking patterns and early decisions. It can more importantly, be an invitation for clients to make new autonomous decisions about how they want to ‘process’ strokes in the here and now.