‘With PCM, you find the chemistry with everyone you interact with.’
The Process Communication Model (PCM) is rooted in Transactional Analysis. Developed in the 1970s by psychologist Dr. Taibi Kahler, it is now practiced by over 4,000 certified trainers worldwide. NASA has used PCM to effectively match personality types during space missions. Meanwhile back on Earth, it has become an integral part of leadership training at many of the world’s leading organisations.
Miriam Smit-Vuijk is a certified PCM trainer and founder of C-Sweet Communications, a consulting firm dedicated to internal communications and leadership development. Since 2020, she has been developing a new role at the HEINEKEN Company as Manager of Internal Communications and Leadership Development. Below, Miriam tells how PCM helps her get the best out of herself and others in the multiple roles she fulfils.
After working in internal communications and leadership development in the finance industry for 11 years, I started my own consulting firm so I could do what I love most: internal communications strategy combined with change and leadership communications. I wanted to use my experience in these areas to support companies in other sectors who face similar challenges.
This has been extremely insightful for me, and it’s given me the chance to offer fresh perspectives to the companies I’ve worked with. My consulting work eventually brought me into contact with the HEINEKEN Company, where I am now developing a new position as Manager of Internal Communications and Leadership Development.
With PCM, I’ve found the missing link that helps me connect to the best in everyone.
By getting in touch with your authentic self and recognizing and understanding the communication preferences of other people, you have so much more impact. PCM has taught me how to appreciate and use my own strengths more. It’s also enabled me to recognise distress behaviour in myself and others, so we can overcome differences and truly bring out the best in everyone.
I would encourage anyone to explore PCM. It starts with discovering your own personality profile, and the great thing is that you can apply that insight instantly. This understanding alone has been so enriching and empowering to me, both professionally and personally.
As a PCM trainer, I offer individual coaching as well as training sessions to teams and groups, depending on what works best in each situation. I help people learn about their own PCM profile and how to work with it: What is their preferred communication style? How does that express itself? How do they behave in distress situations and how can they best deal with them? People usually are amazed at how accurate their profile is. It gives them a richer understanding of their own preferences and behaviours and the tools to use it to improve the quality of life and relations.
Over the years, I’ve seen it happen over and over: once someone gets into a certain role or position within a company, they start feeling like, ‘I’m a manager now… I should start behaving in a certain way. This is what people expect from me in this new role.’ All of a sudden, they start trying to change who they are. And you can just feel and see that it doesn’t fit. Eventually, they start feeling frustrated in their role. They lose touch with themselves and at the same time struggle to connect with others.
PCM shows us that being an authentic leader is not about changing into someone you are not. It’s about discovering, embracing and developing the full capacity of your own personality, and using that to help others do the same.
This reminds me of an insightful quote from Nate Regier’s book, Seeing People Through: Unleash Your Leadership Potential with the Process Communication Model: ‘Learning about personality differences isn’t about finding the positives in people who are “different” from you. It’s about embracing that diversity within you first, then connecting with others by seeing that part of you in them.’
PCM is a dynamic model. It does not envision people’s personalities as permanent or unchanging. Instead, it helps us make sense of why our preferences can change over time.
For example, there was a period in my life where I was truly energized when I could work on a project that required a lot of planning, analysing data and completing tasks. But over time, this changed. I quit my job, had a strong urge to ‘be free’, use my creativity and explore new things. Thanks to PCM, I understand now: this wasn’t some kind of personality crisis. It was just a natural shift of preferences that is perfectly consistent with my personality and the phase that I’m in.
Now, I can see, ‘This is what I need now. That was what I needed then.’ I’m still being my authentic self. So, that helps you calm down and experience changes with less judgment and less anxiety.
Thanks to PCM, I’ve learned to approach people and situations with greater openness and acceptance. I’m also happy to be able to teach people to see the world around them through that perspective. Our basic understanding of each other in PCM is: ‘I'm okay. You're okay’. We’re different. Everyone's different. And that’s okay.
Any time we get into a distressed situation, where we might feel like ‘one of us is not okay’, PCM gives us the understanding to navigate through it and deal with it. It feels peaceful to me. It enables us to invite each other back into that position of both being okay.
If I could do it all over again, I wish I would have discovered PCM sooner. One thing I’ve seen is that this is a model for everyone. It’s not just for coaches, consultants or managers. It’s for people. And it transcends culture.
PCM does not see people as simply a product of our surroundings. It shows us that no matter what the context, there’s still a common core. And when we are in touch with our authentic selves, we can make a connection. It lets you find the chemistry or common ground with everyone you interact with. I think that’s the best thing that it’s given me.