Monday, June 4, 2018

I'm OK; You're OK?

He was a big, hearty, good-looking fella with a swoosh of white hair and he looked everyone in the eye, while bestowing friendly little shoulder pats or back rubs. I disliked him at once.

He also made a point of calling folks by their names. Repeatedly. Except for me -- I was always "Baby's mother."

Back in '73, when John and I were teaching at a small private school in Tampa, the entire faculty was treated to a course in Transactional Analysis (TA,) based on a wildly popular bestseller I'm OK; You're OK  (Wikipedia link HERE) -- and this friendly somebody was the facilitator. 

This school was terrific in that we could wear jeans (my previous stint teaching at Berkeley Prep had required dresses, heels, and panty hose) and we had a lot of freedom in how we structured our classes.  Also, we brought our baby to school with us -- and no one minded. So when we were told we would be staying after school one day a week for Transactional Analysis, we went along with it. We already thought we were ok and we were prepared to assume that others were ok too (unless they proved otherwise.) But the course would, we were told, make us better teachers. Or better people. Or something.

I don't remember a lot about TA -- there was the concept of 'giving strokes' as a part of one's transactions with another. 'Positive strokes' included eye contact, back rubbing, and saying the other's name -- all meant, I suppose, to affirm the okayness of the other. There were  'brown stamps' -- negative strokes -- and there may have been 'warm fuzzies.' 

I have forgotten most of what the facilitator said. Probably because it was a 'brown stamp' when he couldn't remember my name.

But  it all seemed like manipulative behavior to me and I have been left with an enduring suspicion of anyone who uses my name repeatedly in a conversation or maintains eye contact as if it were a staring contest, or rubs my back for no particular reason. You're doing TA on me, I think, and the shield wall goes up.

Scarred for life. 


Barbara Rogers said...

I agree...false friendliness is like politicians kissing babies!

Unknown said...

I've never heard of TA Vicki but my gosh you basically described me! I am a toucher, a hugger, it's who I am although I don't remember or repeat people's names or continue starring at them during a conversation. I only do this when I greet family or friends but I'm beginning to think I'm a bit creepy.....but alas I know if I met you in person I wpould give you a big hug. 😊

Vicki Lane said...

Bernie -- we are long time friends and I would certainly hug you if we met! I was not always a hugger -- probably because my family weren't huggers-- but time has changed that.

Thérèse said...

So interesting!

Anvilcloud said...

I remember a PD session in which the terms "warm fuzzies" and "cold pricklies" were used. Actually I wasn't in that session, but the person who reported back to the whole group got his terms mixed up (or did he?) and said "warm prickers." Much laughter ensued.

Unknown said...

OMG John that's so funny, xx

Vicki Lane said...


Jime said...

Yes the first thing to come into my mind was politicians. That sincerity that is so fleeting and leaves as soon as the next person comes into view.