Personal Impact

How to get comfortable giving and receiving strokes

Understanding the ‘stroke economy’

Claude Steiner suggests that, as children, we are all indoctrinated by our parents with five restrictive rules about stroking.  we don’t get them all, necessarily, just the special combination that our parents had etched into them by theirs.  But the ‘menu’ includes being taught-

  • not to give strokes when we have them to give
  • not to ask for strokes when we need them
  • not to accept strokes if we want them
  • not to receive strokes when we don’t want them
  • no to give ourselves strokes

Together these five rules are the basis of what Steiner calls ‘the stroke economy’. By training children to obey these rules, says Steiner, parents ensure that “.. a situation in which strokes could be available in a limitless supply is transformed into a situation in which the supply is low and the price parents can extract for them is high.”  So the scene is set for a lifetime of unbalanced people, unable to give and reluctant to receive strokes.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t give strokes in our day-to-day interactions with others, of course we should.  People are desperate for them.  It simply means that we should be careful when we do, as many people remain suspicious of strokes and their ‘givers’.

People often have a stroke ‘filter’. They only let in strokes which they think they are allowed to let in. For instance they allow themselves to receive strokes for being clever or kind and reject strokes for being good looking or successful.

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