The term “Strokes” originates from the psychological theory of  Transactional Analysis created by Eric Berne and others. Transactional Analysis is essentially a theory about communication and relationships.  Strokes are a way of describing how we acknowledge people or give feedback which can be in the form of  physical strokes, such as a hug, but often come in different forms such as:

VERBAL – “Hello how are you?” 

NON VERBAL – A smile / frown

POSITIVE – “I like you “

NEGATIVE – “Stupid!” 

ZERO – Ignoring someone

PLASTIC – not genuine – sometimes called “marshmellow” compliments  (as they melt quickly)

CROOKED – Has a sting in the tail… “If you did more of ? you’d be great”

UNCONDITIONAL – “I hate you when….” 

CONDITIONAL – “I love you when……”

Everyday when we are kind to others and kind to ourselves we are carrying out an important role. We are adding to someone’s emotional bank known as a “Stroke Bank” Over a day we receive and give many “strokes” some positive and some negative. Negative strokes have a greater impact on us and we may need extra positive strokes to stay in credit.

It is thought negative strokes could have up to 8 times more impact on an individual than a positive stroke.

And each day we have a “stroke balance”. When it is positive and in credit we feel good about ourselves. A positive stroke bank is good for our self-esteem. However if we receive negative strokes it has the opposite impact.

So what’s your stroke balance today? Try this quick stroke profile analysis.


How can you make a difference to your own and other people’s Stroke Bank Balance? Here are some tips.

  • give strokes when we have them to give as often as you can 
  • ask for strokes when we want them
  • accept strokes if we want them
  • reject manipulative strokes
  • give ourselves positive strokes 

Self- Reflection

So how is your stroke balance?

How many positive strokes are you giving to others?

And more important

How can you make a difference to your stroke balance?

How can you make a positive difference to other people’s stroke account?

I love this story by Claude Steiner “A Warm Fuzzy Tale” which is a great, fun example of the Stroke theory. Enjoy!


If you want to be better at self- care or making other feel great then contact me for 121 coaching

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