Course Outline

As you attempt to communicate with another person during a crisis situation, understanding the ego states that you and the other person are in may help you handle the situation more effectively.

  • Through observations made in social settings, researchers have noticed that people will change their posture, viewpoint, voice, vocabulary, and other aspects of their behavior during an activity. As the behavior changes, shifts in feeling also may occur. It is these changes in feelings and behavior that result in three different ego states.
    • Parent State: In this state, your state of mind resembles that of one of your parents. You, therefore, respond as he or she would have with the same posture, gestures, vocabulary, feelings, etc. A person in the parent state wants to control the situation by:
      • Establishing rules and setting boundaries
      • Giving directives
      • Providing discipline
      • Being the authority
    • Child State: In this state, you react as you would have when you were a young boy or girl. A person in the child state responds to a situation by:
      • Becoming emotional and getting angry quickly
      • Following directions or rebelling against authority
      • Not filtering what he or she says
    • Adult State: In this state, you review the situation objectively and respond in a non-prejudicial manner. A person in the adult state reacts to a situation by:
      • Not dictating to others
      • Using good judgment instead of emotions to make decisions
      • Making a careful assessment of the situation
      • Showing respect for others and being willing to compromise
  • The parent and child ego states are not good for verbal negotiation. Here is an example.
    • One person is in the parent state and responds to a situation by getting angry and giving directives. The person says things like, “Don’t do that” or “Do what I say.”
    • The other person is then likely to switch to the child state. The person says things like, “I will if I want to” or “I don’t have to listen to you” or “You can’t make me do that.”
    • The result is that the person in the parent state tends to become even more parental and the person in the child state tends to become more childlike. As this occurs, conflict results.
  • For the best results, you should respond adult to adult when negotiating.
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