Communication Tower
  • Marcus Yeo

"I'm OK, You're OK" - Book review

Updated: Jan 7

Being a Project Management, I always feel it is important to constantly improve my soft skill. I was introduced to this book by someone I knew and was immediately drawn to it. "I'm OK, You're OK" is a book written by Thomas Anthony Harris, which is about a guide to using transactional analysis as a method for solving problems in life.

Transactional analysis is a psychoanalytic theory and method of therapy wherein social transactions are analyzed to determine the ego state of the patient (whether parent-like, child-like, or adult-like) as a basis for understanding behavior. In transactional analysis, the patient is taught to alter the ego state as a way to solve emotional problems.

3 Main Personalities: The Parent, Adult, Child (P-A-C) model

One of the main principles illustrate in the book is that everyone has 3 main personality components, the Parent, the Adult and the Child. One is usually dominant.

  • The child is the result of experiences collected during our early years as a helpless child. (Helplessness)

- Impulsive, self-centered, fearful, pleasure seeking, rebellious

- E.g. "Anything you say sir", "Nobody follows that rule anyway"

- Use of "I wish", "I don't care", I don't know",

- Transaction: Submissive, Rebel, impulsive

  • The Parent is the result of memories that relate to the beliefs and behaviors of our parents and other authority figures. (Commanding). Even if you've sworn never to behave like your parents, chances are you'll eventually catch yourself doing exactly that.

- Prejudicial , nurturing, judgmental views (not on logic or facts, too serious)

- E.g. "Can't you be on time just once?", "You've done a good job".

- Use of "always", "never", "should"

- Transaction: Lecturing, judging, sympathy, taking care of,

  • The Adult is our rational self, with the ability to find a healthy balance between these first two personalities and come up with good solutions and behavior. (Impartial, responsible)

- Based on objective analysis of info (Not emotional)

- E.g. "Can't we reach some sort of agreement?", "What are the alternatives?"

- Use of "Why", "What", "Where", "Who", When", "in what why", "objective"

- Transaction: Objective, rational, problem solving, less emotion


The book also talks about how most person are led by early childhood memories to feelings of insecurity and impression that others are stronger.

Our emotional reactions regularly cause us to unconsciously relive our earliest childhood experiences, even if we can't remember them.


4 Life Positions

  • I'm not OK, You're OK - Every child's position

  • I'm not OK, You're not OK - Loses interest in living

  • I'm OK, You're not OK - No matter what they do, the fault is with others (May come from abused child, strikes back when older)

  • I'm OK, You're OK - The only conscious, verbal and proactive position

Knowing the positions does not mean feeling OK, but you can make bad feelings go away.

"Treat a person the way they are and they will become worse; treat them as their potential and they will be as they should be".


In conclusion

Always "be in your adult". We need to constantly keeping our "Child" and "Parent" under control. Recognising the patterns of your inner "Child" and "Parent", you can break the pattern of blindly following these voices. Gradually, give more space to your Adult. Your inner "Adult" can then begin creating new decisions that reflect your individuality, freed from the constraint of the Parents and Child.


When applying it to work

  • Try to keep 'Adult to Adult' transactions

  • Ok to divert into 'Child to Child' sometimes

- E.g. talk about Holidays, hobbies, etc

  • Do not get into "critical Parent to Child"

- E.g. "You are always late in submitting your ..."

  • Do not get into "nurturing Parent to Child"

- E.g. "I agree, this assessment is nonsense"

- E.g. "If I were your boss, I would agree with you ..."

  • Do not get into "Child to nurturing Parent"

- E.g. "I'm sorry to ask this, but the boss demand you to do this"

  • Do not get into "Critical Parent to Critical Parent"

- E.g. "I agree, young graduates nowadays are lazy"




"What do you think?" Let me know if you think there is any important/useful detail I have missed in the above write up.

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