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Options Here we go again... You just had the same argument with your boss, the same discussion with your partner, or yet another heated exchange with your mum. I wish it could be different… And it can, as Stephen Karpman explains us in his award-winning paper on Options. In short, we can break unpleasant communications pattern by choosing to react in a different way. Now let’s discover how to do it by reading Marta’s story.

At home, Marta always seems to be justifying herself. Her boyfriend Tom takes on the complementary role of criticising her, endlessly finding blemishes in what she has said or done.

(After a long day at work, Marta has just fixed the dinner: sausages and mashed potatoes)
Tom: “Thanks for fixing the dinner, but you should know I don’t like sausages”
Marta: “Sorry, but we didn’t ate them for such a long time..”
Tom: “Yes, for a reason. You should have cooked something else”
Marta: “But I really felt like eating sausages today! And there was a special offer at the market.”

As you guess, this exchange could go on indefinitely. On the other hand, Marta has the Option of replying in a different way, breaking the communication pattern that is damaging her relationship.

Tom: “Thanks for fixing the dinner, but you should know I don’t like sausages”
Marta: (playful, pretends falling off her chair) “Noooooo! I’ve done it again! What on earth are you going to do with me?!”

Tom: “Thanks for fixing the dinner, but you should know I don’t like sausages”
Marta: (takes pencil and a memo pad) “Ok, please tell me which kind of red meat you like”

Tom: “Thanks for fixing the dinner, but you should know I don’t like sausages”
Marta: (frowns, speaks in a harsh tone) “Wait a minute; you should have reminded me since you knew I was going to the market.”

As you can see, there are different ways to react to Tom’s statement: I have listed 3, Karpman describes 12, and Transactional Analysis Psychology defines 25 of them! Some reactions might be more appropriate to what you are experiencing right now, other less so: you are free to choose.

Comments

it's a very useful post. Though I think it's probably hard to brake the pattern when arguing became a habbit. A great deal of will power is needed and actually I think that some people are kind of not open to the possibility of a change. They would rather complain and go on as before forever, it's so much more comfortable.

Like it :-)

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