In order to completely unravel PCM (The Process Communication Model), I will start the story from a theoretical viewpoint. As in all theories, there are people who develop them and people who apply them, improve them, maybe even simplify them. PCM itself has its roots in the transactional analysis, so Mr. Taibi Kahler, the PCM founder, is just a man from the transactional analysis. In fact, what has Taibi done? Working with his patients, he recorded their specific characteristics, that is, their manifestations, so he followed the five manifested elements of each patient. He followed the words spoken by the patients, their the body posture, the position of their hands while speaking, tone of voice and facial expression. Based on these five elements, he made a script that significantly accelerated the process of working with patients. At that time, one of his colleagues was the chief psychologist in NASA’s space program. To cut this part of the story short, Mr. Kahler was engaged in the late seventies in NASA’s space program as well. PCM experienced a full expansion there, and until 1996, it was the only methodology for selecting teams which would go on space missions.
According to the PCM model, there are six types of personalities that are classified as a six-storey house in our personality. The main characteristic of the model is that we have the full capacity to move on the floors of the house every day, even more than once. For each type there is an accurate pattern of perceptions, character strengths, psychological needs, ways of interacting and even what kind of business environment they work in. Having in mind that the topic of this article is satisfying psychological needs, we will look at each type of personality, specifying which exact personality type has which psychological need and look back at their response while being under stress.
Thinkers are logical, responsible and organized. They are internally motivated by the recognition of the efficiency of their work, as well as the time structure. When under stress, they tend to think too much, control others too much and even attack others for being lazy or stupid. They become obsessive about time, justice and money.
Persisters are dedicated, discerning and conscientious. They are internally motivated by the recognition of their commitment to work and respect for their beliefs and attitudes. Under stress, they tend to be unrealistic in what they expect from others. They also tend to impose their attitudes as the only righteous and just ones.
Harmonizers are compassionate, sensitive and warm. A harmonizer is internally motivated by the recognition of him or her as a person, as well as the satisfaction of sensory needs (in one word, by the how comfortable their surroundings feel). When they are under stress, they tend to lose assertiveness, and try to please everyone. They also tend to make “stupid” mistakes because of lack of confidence.
Rebels are spontaneous, creative, playful. They are motivated by something we call playful contact with the environment. Under stress, rebels do not think clearly, they start to complain, there is always someone else to blame for the things happening around them.
Imaginers are calm and reflective (prone to internal dialogue). Their basic need is solitude. Under stress, they retreat and isolate themselves from others.
Promoters are flexible, persuasive and charming. They are motivated by constant movement. When under stress, they try to attract attention and resort to manipulation.
If we look at these six types for a moment and repeat to ourselves that we are certainly more or less a mixture of all these six, then the complexity of our personalities becomes clearer, especially if there is a certain psychological need for each of the types in our personality that we are trying to satisfy.
In the context of stress management, positively satisfying our psychological needs is the key. According to PCM, only a person who positively satisfies his needs will not get into stress. In doing so, it is difficult to satisfy all of these listed needs every day, to the same extent. The key is to satisfy the psychological needs of the phase in which we are at a particular moment. If we daily fail to satisfy the psychological needs of our phase, we will start a stress-generating mechanism. However, the longer we fail to satisfy our psychological needs, the deeper we will sink into stress and there is a real possibility for the psychological need to be satisfied in a negative way. Here is a detail from a coaching session that I did with a business client. Namely, the man I worked with was in a high managerial position, and he was in the Rebel phase. At one point, he told me that his biggest problem, and what he struggled daily to avoid, was the fact that he was “a cynic”. In fact, as the man is in the phase of Rebel, which meant that he sought most of the day to satisfy the psychological need of “playful contact”, and keeping in mind that his “serious managerial position” did not allow him to banter at work the whole day, the man had simply activated the stress mechanism. Therefore, his cynicism was nothing but a negative satisfaction of a psychological need.
PCM is practical to the extent that an accurate action plan could be written for my coachee on where, when and how he could satisfy his psychological needs in order to stop being a cynic, when it was not right to be one.
Awareness of own personality type has resulted in up to 20% fewer recorded conflicts in organizations where PCM has been used with the managers, because it has given to the managers the so far most practical tool for managing stress and also recognizing it in their associates. Global companies such as Renault are completely turning to PCM as a core methodology for developing their managers’ skills.
*In this text, we are not dealing with phasing, or permanent “relocation” from one floor of the house to another, but it is important to note that, in order to stay in the ++ mode of operation, it is key to satisfy the psychological needs of our current phase – “the floor on which we are living”.