On Friday, 13th and Saturday, 14th July 2018 Karen Pratt (TSTA Education and Founder of TA Matters) introduced a group of 10 professionals (including myself) to Transactional Analysis (TA) language and tools which we can use in our daily and professional lives. For a few months, I’d been exposed to TA through working at CIELARKO. However, I was mainly involved as an admin person who did not fully understand the TA terms and language. And now, after having gone through the TA 101 with Karen, I feel empowered that I will start reading TA materials with appreciation, understanding, meaning and attachment.

One tool that stood out the most for me was ‘Life Positions’ (Windows of the World). This model describes our attitudes to ourselves and others, and a respect for our common humanity. It has four views that represent fundamental stances a person takes up about the essential value he perceives in himself and others. The views are briefly explained below:

  1. I’m OK, You’re OK – when I look at the world through this window, I view myself as valuable to self and others, and good to have around.
  2. I’m not OK, You’re OK – when I look at the world through this window, I see myself as a victim and not as good as others.
  3. I’m OK, You’re not OK – when I look at the world through this window, I see myself as better than others. I have a negative perception of others and my actions therefore put others down.
  4. I’m not OK, You’re not OK – when I look at the world through this window, I believe I am no good, no one else is either and that life is full of despair. I will live and experience rejection throughout my life.

One specific example I can think of where I was looking at the world with the view “I’m OK, You’re not OK” is my experience a few weeks ago with a Grade 6 pupil I teach Xhosa. The learner did not bring their Xhosa book to my lesson and we were running late already. The learner came to me and said “Sorry Sir, I did not bring my Xhosa book, can I use scrap paper?” I responded aggressively to the learner and said, with hostility, “Why do you ask me such a question when you know right well you are coming to my Xhosa lesson? Do you still want to continue learning the language?” My assumption was that she did not want to learn and this class is generally difficult anyway. The learner ran out of the room and went to fetch her book. She returned and I felt tension between us in the next few weeks. This one learner confirmed my view about the class being not OK and I was triggered into reacting automatically. Now that I am empowered with this tool, I could have easily changed my attitude and response. I could have looked through the “I’m OK, You’re OK” window, seen these 12 to 13 year-olds with their strengths and challenges, and responded “It is your responsibility to bring your Xhosa book in all my lessons, so I suggest you go and get it while I continue with my planned lesson.” I would be OK, owning my responsibility as a teacher, and she would be OK and able to take her responsibility as a learner in the situation.

Our two days at the TA 101 were filled with so many honest reflections and wisdom both from Karen and attending participants. Karen’s passion about TA made her a natural in helping us understand the new tools and language. She held the space with power of freedom and inviting firmness. I look forward to adapting and changing some of my behaviours in my work, at home, with friends, … to improve my interpersonal skills. I feel empowered, inspired, free and ready to use some of the TA models and tools.

Simphiwe Mahlanyana.