PCM-Process Communication Model®

What’s PCM®? A.k.a. Process Communication Model®.

As I wrote previously, I have a very good personal relationship with PCM®. As all good relationships, this too started off on a rocky road. But the more I saw myself through the lens of PCM®, the more I started to love it. Based on my personal experience, I integrated it in my self-awareness development programs, since I believe, that it is a very good tool to gain insight into our own blind spots.

The model was developed by Taibi Kahler, an American psychologist, in the 1970s. He based it on the work of Eric Berne, so we can recognise elements of transactional analysis here and there. But the point is not what technique is behind it, but what we use it for. 

I always say, that we should use these tools for what they are: tools. A cane, that we can see as an extension of our own self. A support that we use to be able to communicate more clearly with others, to motivate them more easily or to understand and utilise our conflicts more efficiently. Like a brush while painting. I know it’s not a part of me, however, I know exactly how to hold it, what force to apply, to be able to move it across the canvas and get the exact brush stroke that I had in mind. 

The theory identifies six personality types. The best about it is, that we have all six types within us, to some degree. That’s why I love this model so much! Because it says, that no matter how different we are, we all have within us the potential, to relate well to each other.

PCM® personality types
All rights reserved. Illustrations by @bloculus

The combination of the personality types within us, gives us our personality structure. This is the key to our uniqueness in the world. The six identified personality types are: thinker, persister, dreamer, harmoniser, rebel and promoter. The model uses the analogy of a six-storey house, to represent our personality structure. In this building, our strongest personality type will be the “base”, i.e. the ground floor.  

All rights reserved. Illustrations by @bloculus

It is important to stress that neither personality type is better than the other. Each has its own role and legitimacy. How strong a particular personality type within us is, can depend on many things. But the good news is that by consciously developing our self-awareness, we can increase the “occupancy” of those particular floors. So if you find yourself in a relationship or job that requires you to use a different personality type than your base, you can consciously develop it. 

In PCM® we call this “taking the elevator”. The higher the floor, the more energy we need to spend to access it. The higher it is, the harder it is for us to understand this type. This is why, sometimes we have the impression, that some of our colleagues just landed from Mars. Nope… We all have the martian within us, we just don’t visit him that often. 

So what does “taking the elevator” actually mean? If we manage to recognise our colleague’s base floor, we can identify what “language” to use, when talking to them. This means, knowing what (verbal) and how (non-verbal) to say. By the way we address them and the feedback we receive, we will very likely be able to predict the outcome of the conversation. 🙂 If we get the channel right, and our transmitter is on the same frequency as the receiver, we won. If not, we will start getting signs of stress behaviour quite rapidly. With my thinker base, this will look something like: “What exactly don’t you understand?!?”. If the receiver is not tuned in, we might want to try a different channel. 🙂

A short example: if a colleague is approaching us with tears in her eye, telling us that her cat has died, it’s best if we don’t start a lecture about how based on the statistics of the average lifespan of a feline, Kitty was already an overachiever, and based on how overweight she was, the strain on her body must have been enormous… Just give her a caring smile, a hug, and acknowledge her sadness.

And this is where everyone starts to resist with every fiber of their being. Come on, this feels so fake! This is so not me! Yes, it is! Going back to the painting brush analogy. It’s a tool. An augmented reality in which we do not disguise ourselves, but simply choose to communicate differently. In each case we remain honest with ourselves and with our partner in communication. We are OK-OK. (As in any other communication situation, remember?).

"Personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures…"

- F. Scott Fitzgerald
PCM®
All rights reserved. Illustrations by @bloculus

In an even easier analogy: it’s like learning a new language. When on vacation for example, even if we know we will never return to a specific country, we still take the time to learn some basic phrases. Because what joy it is, to be able to ask for my mortadella sandwich in Italian at the butchery! And not because I’ve become two sentences smarter, but because I can see the joy on the butcher’s face, because I can nod smartly at his Italian gibberish for another five minutes, and because we both say goodbye laughing. We create an honest, human connection. I made an effort to acknowledge and accept his person, instead of starting with “Do you speak English?”, which encodes his potential failure in advance.

So is it with our everyday, mother-tongued relations too. If we get the hint, what the other person needs, and we communicate accordingly, we are much less likely to escalate stress reactions in each other and get into conflict. 

We are all OK as we are. But if we scream our mother’s head off (for the 2654th time in our life) and feel that this needs to change, this is a good opportunity. If we’re tired of following the patterns learned in childhood and want to break free from the cobwebs of our scripts, come and develop your self-awareness!

I have developed my EXPERTize Yourself programme for this purpose. Contact me and I will be happy to send you more details!

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