Lots of factors drive us to do things in life. Look at any executive or colleague in your business – or look at yourself – and ask why they might have chosen design, production, marketing, etc. On a day-to-day level, it can be difficult to understand why people sometimes respond the way that they do. As ever, by taking a think positive approach, we can find a tool to help with that job.

Whether looking at self-awareness or examining our interactions with others, a coach may use Transactional Analysis (or TA) to develop understanding. TA was originally developed by psychiatrist Eric Berne during the 1950s. Among other features, the model suggests five main Drivers for our actions and decisions: ingrained messages that drive our behaviour. Some of the main traits of the five Drivers and some advice and tips are as follows:

Be Perfect
Traits: wants everything to be considered in great detail; follows procedures to the letter; deadlines may be missed through taking too long to plan, correct, revise, etc., critical of own and others perceived shortcomings; dislike feeling out of control or rushed.
Advice for ‘Be Perfects’: remember that mistakes help us learn; check how much detail is actually required.
Tips for dealing with ‘Be Perfects’: offer reassurance; be punctual; show appreciation.

Please Others
Traits: willing and helpful; nothing is too much trouble; accepts work from just about anyone; has real difficulty saying “no”; keeps quiet about problems for fear of upsetting anyone.
Advice for ‘Please Others’: set priorities around your own job responsibilities; identify your boundaries and stick to them; learn how to accept constructive feedback
Tips for dealing with ‘Please Others’: give options, including the option to refuse your request; set clear priorities; give unconditional appreciation.

Try Hard
Traits: competitive, often first to volunteer; gets bored quickly, resulting in unfinished tasks; uses the words “I’ll try” a lot; takes things on because they feel they should.
Advice for ‘Try Hards’: eliminate “I’ll try” from your vocabulary and use “I can” or “I can’t” instead; don’t volunteer just because you think you should; find a way to avoid boredom at the end of a project.
Tips for dealing with ‘Try Hards’: show appreciation for finishing work; gently challenge “I’ll try”; ignore competitiveness.

Be Strong
Traits: stays calm (sometimes unnaturally so); will refuse help; avoids discussing feelings; prefers to work alone; appears unworried about workload.
Advice for ‘Be Strongs’: learn to ask for help; involving others can improve final results; be flexible.
Tips for dealing with ‘Be Strongs’: offer help in a constructive way; don’t force into a position of vulnerability; don’t make changes for the sake of change.

Hurry Up
Traits: works at a fast pace; makes mistakes because they rush; always looking for shortcuts; commits to too many meetings and projects; impatient.
Advice for ‘Hurry Ups’: take time to plan; stop interrupting; keep a regular “have done” list to remind you of what you have achieved.
Tips for dealing with ‘Hurry Ups’: encourage preparation; don’t be intimidated; encourage questions to check their understanding.

Naturally, in any business, all of the Drivers have their own drawbacks and (think positive!) their own benefits. Look around you; you can probably guess at your fellow executives’ Drivers but to be honest about your own, it may be easier to when working with a coach or other helper. Either way, TA Drivers offer a fascinating insight in our own and others’ behaviours.