Sim meets TA in a powerful way

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.

Supreme leaders vs. Effective leaders

Layo contributed to the February 2018 edition of the Leadership magazine discussing the difference between Supreme and Effective leaders and how we can either empower or dis-empower the people we lead. She used Star Wars (the movie) as reference to discuss the differences in these leadership styles. The article is available here.

Posted in March 2018.

What differentiates a leader from a boss?

‘Follow the leader’ article in the Directorship magazine by Rodney Weidemann explores the critical attributes differentiating a leader from a boss.

Layo discusses the use of the Functional Fluency model to develop future leaders. To view the whole article, click here.


Posted in November 2017.

Six weeks of CIELARKO – an intern’s perspective

When I first started my internship with CIELARKO six weeks ago, I was unsure what to expect. I was very excited and curious as to what my tasks would be and who the people were that I’d spend the next one and a half months with. On my first day, I was pretty nervous, so sitting down with Layo and starting to get to know each other face-to-face helped me to relax, but also to clarify for myself what I expected to get out of this experience. Namely to acquire an inside look at what being a consultant really means and perhaps also to find out if I want to further pursue this profession in the future.

Since I did not know much about the specific work of CIELARKO, apart from what Layo told me and what their website revealed beforehand, I spent a lot of my time during the first few days of my internship reading through websites and manuals. Having attained more detailed knowledge on the topics and clients CIELARKO is working with, I began feeling more comfortable and confident with the subjects at hand. This is a pattern that would repeat itself quite a few times during my stay. For instance, when first meeting the different clients CIELARKO works with, I often found it difficult to follow for different reasons. One of which definitely is that English is not my first language, but another one was also that I had not been in contact with the topics they discussed so far. Here it was very helpful that my questions were always welcomed and additionally, Layo explained to me that my questions were also a good opportunity for herself to organise her thoughts and sometimes also to question things herself.

During the following weeks, I spent a lot of time at the Muizenberg office with Layo and Sim, who also helped me whenever I had questions. While stationed at Muizenberg, I also accompanied Layo to see various clients, ranging from NGOs to large corporate businesses. Like so often during this great experience, I was astonished at the huge amount of trust they put in me. Of course, I had signed a confidentiality agreement and yet I was amazed that I was allowed to participate in confidential client meetings. This experience offered me an even greater appreciation for the importance of trusting and earning the trust of colleagues.

On top of that, I felt very honoured that Layo always gave me the feeling that my thoughts and opinions are valued. Obviously, Layo did not always agree with me but I felt that my contribution is wanted and valued and I am very grateful for that. This is another aspect that made my internship such a great experience.

Now, at the end of my internship, I look back and realise that I would never have thought that six weeks could fly by so fast. I am so deeply thankful to CIELARKO and especially Layo for granting me the opportunity to attain first-hand insights into her job as a consultant and for doing so much more for me than I could have expected or even hoped for. During the past one and a half months I accompanied Layo to various clients, took lots of notes at meetings, expanded my PowerPoint and LibreOffice skills, got acquainted with the TIFF model, attended a family constellations workshop, received an equine coaching session and much more. Finally, I also want to thank my colleague Sim for answering so many of my questions and for letting me accompany him to his Xhosa lessons at Forres Preparatory School every Wednesday, which made my stay even richer than it already was.

Laura Krehbiel.


Posted on 28 September 2017


Stefan Graebe’s Radio interview at SAFM 12th February 2017

Stefan Graebe was recently interviewed by SA FM to discuss his new book entitled ‘A Doctorate and Beyond: Building a Career in Engineering and the Physical Sciences’. In the Literature Show interview, he talks with Nancy Richards about how he got to start writing the book with fellow author Graham C. Goodwin and shares his journey to getting a Doctorate and moving beyond. To hear the interview, Click the play button, below, to listen to the interview.


Posted in March 2017.

Layo’s interview with Business Spotlight, a German Publication

Towards the end of last year, Layo had an interview with a German publication company, Business Spotlight, to share her insights on the journey having a business and living in South Africa. She shared a bit about her ethnic background (having a Nigerian father and a German mother) and how she identified South Africa as a country that brought both worlds together hence her move to SA. She also opened up briefly about her observations and experiences having a business in South Africa and how one needs to embrace the different cultures the country has. You can read briefly about the interview here. Otherwise you can order past issues of Business Spotlight at their cover price plus postage and packing. You can call (+49) 89-85681-16 or send an email to


Posted in February 2017.

A positive start into 2017!

Another fresh new year is here…

Another year to live!

To banish worry, doubt, and fear

To love and laugh and give!

To live each day with zest…

To daily grow and try to be

My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity

Once more to right some wrongs,

To pray for peace, to plant a tree,

And sing more joyful songs!

(William Arthur Ward)

We wish all our clients and friends a positive start into a joyful and successful 2017!


Posted in January 2017.

Communication in Organisational Development Processes – A Workshop with and by Anette Dielmann

At the beginning of September, we had the pleasure of hosting Anette Dielmann, who ran a workshop on “Communication in Organisational Development Processes” and offered individual supervision at our offices in Muizenberg. The workshop was attended by a little group of participants from various professional backgrounds. It was eye opening for us all as we looked at organisational communication through different lenses.

The theoretical backbone for the work we did was Transactional Analysis, especially Günther Mohr’s “Individual and Organisational TA for the 21st Century”. Anette worked with us on real life examples, which made the theory come alive and illustrated possible causes of communication difficulties in organisations. 

Looking into the development of solutions was fun, collaborative work, during which we all got some fresh new ideas from others. We could have gone on for a lot longer than the one day we had available. In our daily work with clients, we certainly will continue this train of thought.

Posted on 23 September 2016.

Recognising female leadership qualities

August is Women’s month in South Africa! Sometimes all the “girlie” events at this time of year are not really attractive to me. Busy as I’ve been, I may have just ignored all that, had it not been for a speaking opportunity at the “Women in Leadership” Breakfast on 12th August, organised by Symphonia.

This made me really stop and think about my own career as a woman and about female leaders in general. How often do we compare ourselves with men, assuming that we are – or should be – like them? Too often, and it is not useful.

Leadership is about creating a world to which people want to belong. We don’t learn how to do this only from management textbooks and lectures. We don’t only learn how to do this from men, but also and especially from female rolemodels we all have: the mothers, grandmothers, and aunties in our lives. In discussions with employees in different organisations, I have been told repeatedly that their favourite leaders are the female ones. Somehow these women seem to have intuitively worked out how to touch people, so that they want to belong and follow the lead.

Let us remember to cherish and develop our female qualities, like nurturing, building relationships, and listening. Happy women’s month!

Posted on 23 August 2016.

Cooperation: Our Topic of the Year 2016

From the official inception of CIELARKO in 2008, Layo and Peter have seen cooperation with other organisations and individuals as an important part of our way of working.

It is inspirational to work with others. We have a good network of individuals and organisations that complement our portfolio of competencies. These relationships provide us with the opportunity for professional exchange (of ideas and methods), thus enhancing our creativity as well as our ability to provide clients with excellent service.

This year (2016), encounters with interesting people and their ideas have reminded us of the value that lies in joining forces with “complementary others”.

Layo is working with the Fluent Self organisation to make TIFF (see previous news item) profiling and training accessible to the South African market. See this link for more.

She has also started coordinating a group of practising coaches and therapists interested in expanding their knowledge and experience in the field of Equine Assisted Coaching. The group members learn from and with each other by sharing insights from their own practice, from courses they have participated in and by organising workshops with experts from across the globe. Their aim is to develop this field for the benefit of individuals, organisations and communities in South Africa.

CIELARKO is partnering with Relocation Africa in developing and delivering a one-day workshop to introduce expatriates to the topic of diversity, to prepare them for the difficulties and benefits of an expatriate assignment, and to equip them to deal with diversity-related challenges constructively. To find out more about “The Power of Difference”, follow this link.

Conversations with a few more interesting organisations, whose assets we complement and who complement ours, are underway in South Africa and abroad. We are curious about what lies ahead for us in this regard. If you are, too, keep checking our website for news.


Posted on 22 April 2016.