According to Burley–Allen (1995) “a stroke is any form of recognition or attention one person gives to another. Strokes are either positive or negative, expressed through physical touch or nonverbal behaviors (i.e. winks, frowns, smiles, gestures). Strokes can also be compliments or criticisms”. (Burley–Allen, p. 26).
What an interesting approach to illustrating how we interact with one another. Not quite, what I had in mind before reading this text. However once read, it really struck home with me. All at once, I was able to see my reflection in the mirror.
My oldest daughter (who loves communicating) one day told me that she was reluctant to share certain things with me because the frown on my face automatically made her think that I was angry. Although I had explained to her several times that I am not angry, rarely have I thought to say “this intense look is me concentrating on what you’re saying to me, it is not an angry look at all”.
Just from this interaction with my daughter and a personal revelation of Self, I am constantly reminded to be attentive in my listening manner. I have come to know that my strokes affect all four of my children. It either hinders or enhances their ability to communicate not just with me but with others, which in-turn affects their overall self-esteem.
Since becoming aware of Self, I have had several opportunities to practice this technique by stopping to face my children, looking them directly in the eyes and in some situations turning the frown upside down. By doing this, I am practicing positive stokes and at the same time teaching them how to be better communicators themselves.
In my profession and observation of family relationships, I have come to believe that “Children really do what they see and not what they are told”. I am convinced that my children’s future really does begin with my daily revelation of self therefore my prayer is;
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
(Excerpts from the Serenity Prayer, Author Unknown)
Burley-Allen, M. (1995). Listening The Forgotten Skill A Self Teaching Guide.New York Chicester Brisbane Toronto Singapore: Joyhn Wiley & Sons, Inc.