The concepts of Base and Phase in PCM

PCM; process communication model; personality types; base; phase; magda tabac; trainer; pcm trainer; process communication model; pcm perceptions;

If you’ve been reading some of my previous posts you most probably already heard about the Base and the Phase of one’s personality. They are the most important concepts of Process Communication Model (PCM) and are very useful tools in understanding what PCM teaches.

If, on the other hand, you are new to PCM, but would like to find out a bit more about it, please first read through THIS THREAD, and then come back here. I promise I’ll wait 😉 And you’ll recognise here some of the information read before, but we’ll go a bit deeper into the concepts.


The Kahler Personality Inventory

People who wish to use the Process Communication Model® will first complete a questionnaire which, once processed, will enable them to discover their personality structure. The teaching metaphor of a condominium helps us to visualise the composition of each unique personality structure.

Condominium - The concepts of Base and Phase in PCM

Each of the six personality types is located on a single floor with the size of the bar within the floor indicating the level of energy available when the person wants to use the corresponding personality type.

The metaphor of an “elevator” illustrates the person’s ability to reach all of the floors and use all of their resources. As with elevators in real life, “gravity” has a word to say, meaning that it is more difficult (we require more energy) to activate the characteristics of a personality type that is on an upper floor, than it is to do the same for an inferior floor – these are more comfortable for us to use.

Every person has all 6 types of personality, so it is quite normal to recognize in us elements from multiple types. They will appear as part of our behaviour with a higher or lower intensity, depending on how close they are to the base of our condominium and on the level of energy available on their specific floor, which both show our natural preference for them.

The Base

The ground floor, called the Base, indicates the dominant, most highly developed personality type. Being able to identify another’s Base helps us to use the most effective communication channel and perception to connect with that person.

According to PCM, the Base personality represents the filter through which we perceive life and the things we value (perceptual frame of reference), the “currency” we use mostly in our communication, the most preferred communication channels, the words and the manner we use to communicate. The base personality is also the one who defines our strengths, the management style we prefer, the type of environment that is most comfortable to us and also, how we react to the day-to-day stress (low-level of stress, to which we can be exposed even hundreds of times per day, most of the time without even realising it).

The base will remain the same throughout all our life.

A quick reminder of the six types and their specific traits, perceptions and currency, as well as specific strengths can be found in the image below. You can read more about the PCM personality types HERE:

Summary slides PCM Magda Tabac Base - The concepts of Base and Phase in PCM

The Phase

The concept of Phase provides keys to understanding what motivates people and also what stresses them, as it helps us understand what is the main psychological need that we experience in that phase of our life.

Satisfying the psychological needs of the Phase affects our motivation on a day-to-day basis and guides us on how to motivate self and others.

Even better, it helps us to recognize when we or our communication partner enter a distress sequence and gives us the tools to tackle this situation.

Knowing someone’s phase will help us to easily recognise when they enter their distress sequence, understand the degree of stress they are under and will also give us the tools to invite them out of their distress sequence. It will be up to them if they will accept our invitation or not.

This is possible because PCM identifies six distress sequences that people will experience and demonstrate. These are predictable, repetitive,  sequential and observable. Each such distress sequence has three levels, or successive degrees of intensity. I will discuss more about them in a future blog post.

The image below represents a short summary of the psychological needs of each Phase, as well as of their distress sequence.

Summary slides PCM Magda Tabac Phase - The concepts of Base and Phase in PCM

The Phase-specific distress sequence will appear when one feels already a medium or high level of stress.

At the beginning of our lives, our Base = our Phase. One’s Phase can change once or more times through one’s life in certain conditions, which will most probably be the subject of a future blog post.

Only around one third of US population doesn’t go through a Phase change in their lifespan… the rest – two thirds of the population – will experience such Phase change at least once in their life.

This concept is also one of the keys to PCM’s success in providing a dynamic picture of one’s personality (not a static one, as many of the personality profiling tools on the market offer) and part of the reason it was chosen by NASA and the White House as a main tool in recruitment / communication / profiling.

Because PCM takes into consideration the fact that our Phase can change through life, and thus, our motivations and our elements of stress, it teaches us the “recipe” for success for each of these (new) situation. We will be able to identify such changes and adjust our approach accordingly.

Various domains of applicability

These concepts (and PCM itself) are useful for whatever context in our lives: professional relationships, recruitment, sales and negotiations, education, project management, personal relationships and simple day to day social interactions.

Once one starts to understand PCM, it will become a (quite exciting) habit to identify the most energized “floors” (meaning, personality types) in someone’s personality.

Doing this helps strengthen one’s understanding of PCM and the six personality types, making it easier afterwards in our day to day life to know how to better approach our conversation partners (or our team members, direct reports, line managers, life partners, children, etc.), to “speak their language”, so that we avoid miscommunication and distress and we get more things done smoothly and efficiently, while building high quality and trust-based relationships.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please let me know if you want any further information on the subject or have any questions. I’d be glad to answer them.

Stay happy!



PS: A big reason I write is to meet people so feel free to say Hi! on Linkedin here or follow my Instagram here, as I’d love to learn more about you.

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(1) Comment

  1. Nthabiseng says:

    A very interesting blog and different from most communication info out there. Definitely learnt something new.

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