For Christmas ... The finest gift is a book
Christmas is a time for gifts, hope and peace.
A book is a special gift for special people. In Italy people don’t read enough: Christmas is the perfect time to treat yourself or others to a book and the best moment to read a book. A book that is worth reading, of course!
I’d like to offer some suggestions even though that’s quite a responsibility.
I am an avid reader and I’m interested in all sorts of things, So I’m confident about recommending some good books in my own field.
Here’s my list:
- I’m ok, you’re ok - by Thomas A. Harris
- Change by P. Watzlawick, J. H. Weakland, R. Fisch
- Donne di denari by Debora Rosciani
And obviously “It’s easy to change jobs if you know how” by Cristina Gianotti, as well as the forthcoming “Connecting Dots – Networking: it’s easy if you know how”, that you can pre-order on www.bookabook.it.
Few books can change lives, but when they do it’s forever: they open doors you could not have imagined, you go in and no longer come back.– Christian Bobin
I’m ok, you’re ok
Thomas A. Harris (1910-1995) was a psychiatrist who founded the Transactional Analysis Institute in Sacramento, California and was the president of the International Transactional Analysis Association. “l’m Ok, You’re Ok” has sold more than fifteen million copies all over the world and has been translated into more than twenty languages.
Why do we behave as we do and how can we change our behaviour if we want to? How can we use psychoanalysis to deal with relationship problems?
Transactional analysis, which this book examines, neglects many essential components of classic psychoanalysis as these are deemed as too abstract. Using a small number of essential concepts and simple language, the author focuses on communication in an attempt to identify the unconscious mechanisms governing it. Readers will then be able to understand their own and other people’s behaviour and, if necessary, act on this.
“I’m OK, you’re OK” is not a specialist manual for analysts, but rather a practical guide to Transactional Analysis that uses simple language and reduces to three basic concepts relationships between people: the Parent, the Adult, the Child that are seen as types of behaviour that exist in all people, who, depending on the extent these behaviours surface in interpersonal relations, result in a neurotic (NON OK) or normal (OK) behaviour.
These are different to the Super-ego, Ego and Id of classic psychoanalysis. Aside from being new concepts that describe a dynamic structure of personality, Parent, Adult, Child, are, for the author, instruments of knowledge and empowerment for us all that could eliminate the monopoly of mental health service professionals.
The success of the book depends on the fact that it describes in a simple language that is understandable to everyone certain mechanisms, giving us the chance to amend our relationships with others, by acknowledging the existence of good and bad components in ourselves and others.
In this way readers can increase their chance of understanding their own decisions and other people’s and have useful guidelines for positively influencing their relationship with others.
I discovered this book almost 30 years ago during an adventure holiday with a group of people. It was 1989 and there was a guy in the group called Renato, a young lawyer, with a special sensitivity for relationships. He happened to be reading this book and when he finished, he leant it to me and I read it there and then, almost as a game. The title was much more captivating than Renato’s words to me.
I later discovered transactional analysis during a management training course at work: a high tech company that was doing a course on a topic I can’t quite remember - it might have been social styles and how to interact with others. This drew on the concepts of Transactional Analysis. And my Master in Executive and Business Coaching, which I studied back in 2004, included three whole modules on transactional analysis.
TA is actually a way of handling communication issues that is accessible to most people. And this is the reason this book is in my essential reading list for networking - networking is about relationships and communicating is essential for relationships– in my forthcoming book “Connecting Dots”.
An anecdote: one of the things that really struck me when I first read this book is that babies die without physical contact and caresses!
Paul Watzlawick (1921-2007) is an Austrian philosopher, sociologist, psychologist who is considered one of the greatest communication scholars. His work closely mirrored that of Gregory Bateson and in 1960 he started working at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, before he taught in the department of Psychiatry and behavioural science at Stanford University starting in 1976. His work includes: The language of change. Elements of therapeutic communication, Instructions to make yourself unhappy, America, user instructions, From good to worse. Instructions for a catastrophic success, The Baron of Munchhausen’s ponytail, or psychotherapy and reality and the collection of essays on constructivism - The invented reality - he edited. Amongst his other noteworthy work is Pragmatics of human communication.
The reference to Pragmatics is necessary because this book develops this. The emphasis is once again placed on the 'pragmatic' aspects of human communication, on what happens 'here and now, even though it examines ancient phenomena like persistence and change in human matters. "There are countless
theories on change ", writes Milton H. Erickson in the preface, "but this is the first time a theory of change offers a serious analysis on change itself, to ascertain how it occurs spontaneously and how it can be provoked ". Although the authors create a theory of change, you have to bear in mind this takes place by going from practice to theory (not the opposite way round). The practical experience comes from the Brief Therapy Center in Palo Alto, that was founded in 1966 by Richard Fisch (a psychiatrist and researcher like Watzlawick and Weakland at the Mental Research Institute) that he ran with John Weakland (an anthropologist who worked with Bateson on the fine-tuning of what is now a classic of psychiatric literature, "Towards a theory of schizophrenia", translated in The double bond, edited by C. E. Sluzki and D. C. Ransom, Astrolabio 1979). The authors do not divulge results, but they do not shy away from giving precise guidelines non and suggesting tangible alternatives to a 'psychotherapy that becomes an inhumane process' if the price is the real suffering of patients. They also argue that the principles they
identified can also be applied to large social systems and international relations, thus a much wider audience than professional psychotherapists.
I was a consultant for decades and I deep down I will always be a consultant.
In particular I dealt with Organisation and Information Systems. Nowadays it would be called Change and Digitalisation / Innovation. Change was thus a fundamental component of my Coaching studies (a 2 year Master at SCOA with Gianfranco Goeta).
The Astrolabio publications are a little “daunting”, you know they are serious academic texts, … and as educated as I was, my background was in engineering and economics. But they were a great discovery.
I discovered that psychology uses scientific methods and not just hot air …
Some people are cynical about psychology – you know who you are! I also discovered an approach focusing on the “here and now” that is projected towards resolving problems which ties in with my engineering background. So I became convinced that coaching in a serious and professional way is not just sterile
chit-chat and improvisation! In a world where many people write and offer their opinions without any grounds for doing so that’s a good starting point. And the same goes for my clients and the satisfaction I look for and find in my work.
Donne di denari
Debora Rosciani is Radio24’s financial journalist.
What if we had had Lehman Sisters instead of Lehman Brothers? Looking at the stats, things would have been better: women are perfect savers, naturally careful and risk averse. But, perhaps because of cultural tradition, or excessive wariness about complex subject matters, we have become convinced that economics is a man’s domain. So we delegate financial choices to husbands, fathers and boyfriends and sometimes completely forget our own financial interests to concentrate on our families.
As a result, many women convince themselves that a single salary (and a single pension) will be sufficient - i.e. we make errors we could severely regret. Nobody knows about this problem more than Debora Rosciani, who presents the programme "Cuore e denari" on Radio24. This led to her writing an economics guide for women, that speaks our language, understands our sensibilities and handles commonplace financial issues from our perspective. It also deals with problems which are specific to women, while bearing in mind that our objectives tend to change according to the different phases in our lives. This is by no means a detailed or pedantic manual, and is rather a compass offering ideas, interviews with insiders and useful links to give women all the advice they need on the subject.
This also ties in with the presentation of my first book in May 2016 in Milan. I had the honour of having Nicoletta Carbone and Debora Rosciani as moderators, and on that occasion Debora gave me a copy of her book.
Well done to Debora for her contribution to women’s independence, by helping us develop a better grasp of the subject of money.
My reading list is the list of a business coach that wants to help others find their way in life, while continuing to dream and fulfil those dreams, thus living better with others and improving the world we live in.
The ideas we get after reading a book can be a first step towards achieving our objectives, especially professionally. That’s a great gift for Christmas, don’t youthink?