The drivers

The drivers

Constraining messages in stressful situations


Drivers are binding messages that are transmitted to us consciously or unconsciously. They act particularly in situations of stress. The aims of this sheet are :

  • to help you become aware of your most common drivers
  • better understand how others function and their needs,
  • to enable you to communicate better.


On the basis of Eric Berne's work on Transactional Analysis, Taïbi KAHLER and Hedge CAPERS, American psychologists and transactional analysts, identify 5 drivers, i.e. the constraining messages that each individual carries within him or herself and which lead to repetitive behaviour, particularly under stress

These drivers are the following:

  • Make Pleased


"Maybe I could..."

"Do you mind if..."

"Well, never mind, if that's what you want..."

(over-adaptation to please)

  • Be Strong

There are 2 distinct forms of this driver: the Parent form and the Child form

Examples of the Parent form:

"There's a transport strike? That's not my problem! We have an appointment at 8am so make sure you're there!”

"I'm a customer, do as I say!”

"You're on your own! You're a big boy!”

Examples of the Child form:



(In thoughts) "I have to manage on my own"; "When you are strong, you don't cry"; ...

  • Be Perfect

There are two distinct forms of this driver: the Parent form and the Child form

Examples of the Parent form:

“I am surprised that someone at your level does not understand what I am presenting.” “Your question is not precise”

"It is normal that you do this for me, you are paid for it”

Examples of the Child form:

"Leave it, I can do it better and faster"

"If we look at this work, I mean this methodological approach, and by methodology I mean of course the approach by which we each carry out one stage of a clear and precise process, it is important to note that the solution identified, or at least found, is not adequate with regard to the problems that our company is experiencing...” (superfluous qualifiers, brackets within brackets...)

  • Make an effort

"What? I don't understand anything...”

"It's hard..."”

"It's always the same, it's boring work, it's tiring, I can't take it anymore...”

  • Hurry up (secondary driver)

Usually complements another driver to add a speed/rush dimension.

  • For example, with a "Be a Perfect Parent": "Your report was not up to standard, there were indeed 3 's' left out (on a 300 page report). I expect a new version by lunchtime without fail!"
  • For example, with a "Please": "Yes, of course, I'll bring it to you right away, of course" (the person bending and waving rapidly in all directions)


Please: To be OK and to be recognised, I have to be there for the other person. I tend to over-adapt, to do too much, to be insecure and firm in my decisions, I "sacrifice" myself to the detriment of my own needs and priorities. It is the relationship that comes first. It should be read as follows: "You're OK, I'm OK if I please you".

Be strong (Parent): I am OK, but for the other to be OK, and recognised, he/she must be focused on his/her priorities, stand alone, not show emotions, not ask for help. Action is the priority. I tend to think I don't need anyone, and can't stand 'dependent' people. It should be read as: "I'm ok, you're ok if you're strong".

Be strong (Child): To be OK, and to be recognised, I have to be strong, to show that I can manage alone. I become passive, withdraw, cut myself off from others. I can get involved in several projects in parallel without completing any of them. I tend not to finish my sentences. It should be read as: “you are ok, I am ok if I am strong.”

Sois parfait (Parent) : Je suis OK, mais pour que l’autre soit OK, et reconnu(e), il/elle doit être  parfait(e), ne doit pas faire d’erreur. Je cherche à imposer mon point de vue et peux avoir  tendance à être négatif et à souligner uniquement ce qui ne va pas. Il convient de le lire ainsi : « je suis ok, tu es ok si tu es parfait ».

Be perfect (Parent): I am OK, but for the other to be OK, and recognised, he/she must be perfect, must not make mistakes. I try to impose my point of view and can tend to be negative and to underline only what is wrong. It should be read this way: I am ok, you are ok if you are perfect.

Sois parfait (Enfant) : Pour être OK, et être reconnu(e), je dois être parfait. Je surinvestis ce qui  peut apparaître comme des détails pour les autres. Je deviens maniaque, je pinaille et ne me  donne pas le droit à l’erreur. Il convient de le lire ainsi : « tu es ok, je suis ok si je suis parfait ».

Fais des efforts : Pour être OK, et être reconnu(e), je dois montrer que ce que j’entreprends est  difficile pour moi et que je fais un réel effort. J’ai tendance à beaucoup soupirer et à appeler  indirectement _volontairement ou non_ l’autre à faire ou à penser pour moi (« je ne comprends  rien… », « c’est dur… ») : c’est comme si je n’arrivais plus à penser clairement. Je « rame ». Il convient de le lire ainsi : « tu es ok, je suis ok si je fais des efforts ».

Dépêche-toi (secondaire) : Pour être OK, et être reconnu(e), je dois montrer que j’agis dans  l’urgence. Le stress me dope, et je cherche à agir dans la précipitation. Il convient de le lire ainsi : « tu es ok, je suis ok si je me dépêche ».

Ces drivers se manifestent pour suggérer un besoin spécifique, la recherche d’un signe de  reconnaissance. « Si j’agis ainsi, j’ai de la valeur et les autres me considéreront ». Ils sont liés  à une position de vie conditionnelle « J’ai de la valeur si… », « Tu as de la valeur si… ».


  • Which driver(s) do you recognise yourself in most?
  • In which situations do they manifest themselves?
  • What are you missing at this moment? What would you have needed?
  • Do you consciously observe the manifestation of these drivers in your interlocutors?
  • Confronting the drivers

Initially, Kahler and Capers saw permissions as a good way to stop the negative manifestation of Drivers. Their research later showed that this method was inappropriate.

According to Kahler, the Perception and the Channel of Communication associated with the observed Driver should be offered - to the other person, or to ourselves, manifesting that Driver, if we can step back from our behaviour.