What is Behavioral Diagnosis? You do it when you judge which Ego State a person is in by observing what the person is doing (i.e. their behavior). There are five areas you can see and hear: Words, Tones, Gestures, Postures and Facial Expressions. To read more about the Functional Ego States, click here.
In this post I am guiding you through some standard clues related to the 5 layers of communication when seeing someone in an Ego State.
Before deep diving into these layers, let me highlight some important things. First of all, these clues are only general guidelines for the diagnosis. You and I might differ from each other in many ways. We don't know how I or you looked or sounded at years of 4 or 5 when obeying a parental figure or significant others. Chances are we both were in our Conforming Child Ego State though. We lost something, we were not allowed to stay up at night, we were rejected when wanting to join others to play or we just wanted to understand why we are not listened to. We experienced sadness. Your sadness might have looked one way which was different from mine. In spite of the individual differences, there still can be some common clues that help us identify the Ego States one can be in. Just look at the sad guy above. He is sittig so he is seen small, rocking (which is a self-soothing behavior), crossing his arms (closed posture), scratching his right arm (adaptor that is present in anxiety). His lower lip is lowered as well as his lip corners. You can see some stress lines on his forehead, his eye lids are tensed and there are tears in his eyes. He might think of himself as a Victim - just like 23 years ago when he was only 7 and he hated that his bigger brother wanted to get rid of him at the football ground - so he cannot do anything to fix the situation. We don't know what triggered his sadness now but his behavior indicates an Ego State that he most probably is in: Conforming Child.
What are these clues good for? When observing someone through the 5 layers, we can have better judgements about the person's Ego States. Once we detect this, we can choose to communicate with him or her the way that can lead to the most constructive outcome in the given situation. Watching and listening to the person are sometimes not enough so we can ask some more questions to improve our accuracy.
On beyond these 5 layers we can take the CONTEXT into account in which we are observing the person. Any gesture, for example, made out of context normally signifies the Child Ego State.
Finally let me give you some guidelines for the observation. Don't interpret. When seeing just a single sign (e.g. putting hands on the hips) don't jump into conclusions (e.g. so it must mean that this person is in Critical Parent). Instead, identify clusters of signals. Check the context, observe the words and the tone of voice. Compare that to the facial expressions and body posture. Are these aligned with the gestures the person is using? Focus on the BEHAVIOR - what you see and what you hear. Where can you see "happenings" or muscle contractions? Are they appropriate in this context? Try to collect as many descriptive elements as you can and then you will definately get closer to find out what Ego State the person can be in.
Let us start with the Adult Ego State (A).
Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, I see, I understand, Tell me more, 5 o'clock, On the right hand side, On the sixth floor, The next step is, As a result of, Yes, No, Seventy-two, From "A" to "Z", Wednesday, Correct, Incorrect etc. These words are giving or helping to get information related to the here and now situation. They elicit assertion, problem-solving and setting goals, boundaries. They reduce uncertainty and ambiguity. Check this:
Usually calm, moderate, fluent and deeper voice. Easy to hear and understand. Most of the time it is unemotional, cool and more monotonous. Its pitch is not changing significantly. Listen to this example:
Level eye-contact, absence of fidgeting, moderate and controlled movements.
Straight and open sitting or standing. Eye-contact maintained in a balanced way. Attentive, listening, observing.
Open, thoughtful, focused expressions. Facial behavior is reflecting on the here-and-now situation.
Check these examples, where you can also see the "here-and-now" feature:
Check how Carl Sagan (on the right) is sitting and looking into the camera. The man standing is in a different Ego State, other than Adult. Do you have any ideas what? We'll see that later.
Critical Parent Ego State (CP)
Look at these examples first.
Does this look familiar? I am sure you know what words can come from the CP.
"I'm fed up with you. You idiot! How many times do I need to tell you? Do this, do that, Never, Always, Should, Must, Don't, You better, Good, Bad, Until, Unless, How dare you, Who are you to, You can't just, First you have to, Seeing is believing, Unacceptable, Outrageous, Ridiculous, Once and for all, Stupid, Disgusting, Lazy, Incapable, C'mon! etc. These words are regulating and commanding. Demanding and telling.
Usually harsh, abrupt, authorative. It might sound attacking or aggressive - even if it is not. You can hear power in it and it usually is louder. It might convey anger. It can also be calm while conveying criticism. Listen to this example:
The following picture shows a typical pattern on the CP - CC highway - based on the mp3 above.
Fingerpointing, arms crossed, hands on the hips, waving hands in the air.
Look how the CP fingerpoints. Just imagine yourself on the other side of the communication. What are you feeling?
Imagine you are entering this room and this is what you see:
Grounded, looking stable as rock. It can be close, stepping into our personal or even intimate zone. Too much eye-contact maintained. Can be threatening, alarming, contemptuous and dominant. It can even be physically attacking.
Rolling eyes, furrowed brows, scowling, scorn.
Look at the lack of eye blinking in this scene:
Finally, check the scorn, the head shake and the eye brows in this look:
Nurturing Parent Ego State (NP)
Look at the man on the left. He is giving a hand to the man on the right. This is what you can see in the NP. It is giving.
Oh, Darling, My boy, Sweetheart, Honey, Leave it to me, I can help, I will do it, It's OK, Everything is going to be alright, You can do it, I trust you, I believe in you, Don't worry, Chin up! Calm down. How are you? Is everything OK? You look pale. Shall I bring you a ...? Well done! Thumbs up! Great job! You deserve it! Congratulations! These words are really giving, supporting and recognizing. They are conveying attention and empathy towards others.
Soothing, consoling, loving, caring. Higher pitch, conveying much empathy. Protecting and encouraging. Teaching and educating, wise. It can be whispering calm like a fairy tale telling sound. Listen to this example:
The following picture shows a typical pattern on the NP - CC highway - based on the mp3 above.
Pat on arm, nodding encouragingly. Standing like a rock and providing a safe background.
Look how the NP is conveying Permission. With no words it says "Come on you can do it. I trust you."
Look how accepting, encouraging and funny it can be:
Leaning forward, bringing warmth, coming closer, giving, open, protecting, accepting body language. It is sharing resources with you. Look:
Isn't it like a mother's hug? What are you feeling when you are hugged?
Smiling, proud eyes.
You can see deep empathy on the face of the NP:
All of the abovementioned aspects of the NP can be seen here:
Rebellious Child Ego State (RC)
Nice signs of rebellion can be seen above and below:
When RC feels "It is not fair" , it rebels (if allowed).
No. Stop it. Out of my way. Get away. I won't do it. Who cares, I don't care, You are not my ..., Who the hell do you think you are? Enough! Get off me. Leave me alone. Buzz off. Really? Fuck you. Bullshit. What? These words are really expressing disobedience and disagreement. They are conveying resistance, defiance and antagonism - many times with anger. They are challenging or questioning the authority of the other person. They are typical reactions when our needs get frustrated. RC is defiant, oppositional, naughty and anti-authority.
Harsh, loud, powerful, energetic and determined. When it is authentic, it is fluent. It can be hurt and resentful. It may come from two different timing patterns: (1) with short reaction time, immediately after the trigger or (2) with longer reaction time like a volcano erupting, exploding and bursting out after a longer latency. In the following example you can hear only two words coming from RC. Will you find them?
The following picture shows the incongruent pattern on the A - (CP) - RC highway - based on the mp3 above. The question coming from the older man sounds like an Adult message but there is some CP (covert message) packaged in it. It triggers the immediate RC response: "No. No." Then the young man changes his Ego State and asks "What?" and continues from the same Ego State: Conforming Child or CC. Its tone is not determined any more and not fluent at all. It becomes much more hesitating and adapting.
Expressing "getting rid of" and separating movements.
These messages are showing the intention of the person to do the opposite of what being told or asked or proposed. It is usually really energetic. Look at this:
Leaning away and distancing can show disagreement of the RC as well:
Showing the finger is a typical RC gesture:
Usually tensed and contracted muscles can be seen. Lot of energy is invested in. Look:
RC can turn away, facing sideways, distancing - maybe just turning the head towards the partner.
Lots of tension on the face. No smile (or ironic smile only). Extreme expressions conveyed by the brows, eyes, nose, lips and jaws.
The face can express anger, disgust or contempt. How are you feeling when somebody is looking at you like this?
Conforming Child Ego State (CC)
Do you remember how Carl Sagan was sitting in one of the pictures above? In the Adult Ego State. Do you remember the man on his side? Go back if you don't. He shows the submissive CC signals by looking down, hiding his hands, not keeping eye contact. He is like a servant waiting for commands. Lots of things can trigger this Ego State. Check Carl's chair. It is like a throne. It sends the signals that the person sitting on it has high power (so you better obey or else ...). Check how cute Larry is below. It is the smile of the CC (we know it is CC and not FC because of the blocking right palm and the defensive right arm).
Check when it manifests in a crowd. Recognize the awe on the faces all around. They are all adapting to a parental figure. At times it can be so regressive due to the suggestive environmental elements that the child-like features of the CC can easliy be seen and recognized.
Yes. Yes, sir. Yes, ma'am, As you wish. My bad. I am sorry. Silly me. Please! I can't. But I am not ... I will try. It's not fair. I can never... Everybody else can ... OK. I will do it. It is so true. Nothing can be better than this. I agree. The CC is sendind the message to the parental figure present: "I am who you wish me to be" OR "I will do what you wish me to be doing".
Monotonous, it can be hesitating, and agreeing. It can be silent and weak. Higher pitch is more usual. When feeling lost, hopeless or helpless, you can hear the CC speaking. Listen to the following example:
The following picture shows the typical pattern on the A - (CP) - CC highway - based on the mp3 above. The question coming from the officer sounds like an Adult message but there is some CP (covert message) packaged in it - like in a previous example above. It triggers the CC response: "Yes. Yes." (NB: In the previous example the RC kept saying "No") The pictures below demonstrate the typical visual messages of the CC.
Submissive signals, conveying the "It's OK" meaning.
It can be a weak handshake, turning the palm up or an inappropriate passive response in the context. Look at this:
Nodding the head shows the agreement and willingness to obey and follow from the CC:
Whenever one feels he or she cannot cope with the challenges only with the help of someone, the "Please!" signals of the CC can be used:
Whenever you feel embarrassed, you have stage fright, you look blank or lost or you are ill at ease, your CC will send the nonverbal messages like this:
It can signal a Victim position. It can demonstrate confusion. It can be puzzled like this:
The whole body sends the message that "I want to be a good boy or a good girl" to be accepted. "I want to provide you with the right answer" approach. Submissive standing or sitting. Powerless, little movement, lack of energy. Looking up from a "lower" position.
Pouting, downcast, embarrassed smile. It can be robotic, uncertain, expressionless and attentive:
The face can, on the other hand, express fear, sadness, hopelessness, helplessness or depression.
Crying is another typical CC expression. Usually it invites the other person to express NP. It works here:
Free Child Ego State (FC)
Finally we arrived to the last ego state. Observe the playful mouth pulling and smile of the FC.
Check these guys.
And a typical scene:
And FC says yes to passion.
Life is good when in FC.
I wish, Wow, I love, I hate, Yuck! Yummy! Hurray! Who cares? Yesssss! Amazing! Awsome! Wicked! I dig it! Finders keepers, losers weepers! Are you crazy? I want, Shit! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I cannot believe my eyes! Oh my goodness! Wee! Damn it! Oops! Gotcha! You betcha! Yahoo! Playful and spontaneous reactions packaged in words and expressions.
Joyful, noisy and energetic. Happy and laughing. Positive and honest. Expressing sighs, blows, ticks or other vocal signals.
The following picture shows a duplex transaction pattern of the A - (FC) - A (FC) based on the mp3 above. The lady is expressing her honest experience that sounds like an Adult message but there is some FC (covert message) packaged in it. It triggers the FC response: "Ah, alright!" As this is an aswer to the here and now communifaction, it is and A response (with FC tone of voice). The picture below demonstrates the first part of the conversation. When the lady says "That wasn't a compliment" she says that from her CP. With that she is changing the communication pattern, setting boundaries from CP and their conversation immediately loses its lubricated, smooth feature.
Exaggerated movements, uninhibited, unconditioned, spontaneous, energetic, animated.
It is playful. Look at this:
Showing positive gestures is typical in FC. They come with positive mood and joy. They express happiness.
In FC we are closely connected to our emotions and we freely express them, whatever they are:
FC has a rich repertoaire of gestures expressing excellence and greatness. What are you feeling when someone is showing this to you?
Open, turning towards the other person, flexible, moving and energetic. It is in motion.
While the CC is moving less, RC and FC are moving more. FC is more open and fluent. It is really energetic so the person can rarely stay where they are. They have to move.
Bright-eyed, smiling freely, laughing, crying, opening mouth, moving eye brows, blinking.
Eyes are usually narrowed while smiling or laughing:
Finally a typical FC:
If you have any questions, comments or stories, share them with me via email. We can publish them here.
(c) NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION COACH - www.nonverbalcommunicationcoach.com
by Bali Polyanki
(c) All Rights Reserved 2017