Smiling at a stranger




A genuine smile is the simplest, yet one of the best positive strokes by way of which one person can recognize another. Here is a short story (Courtesy from Quora) which emphasizes the value of the art of smiling.


Many a time, people get caught up in the rat race and do not find time to appreciate the small, beautiful things. So simple, yet difficult. A smile on a face is always a beautiful thing to see and experience.


Story courtesy from Quora, Mr. Prateek Choudhary

Cartoon image courtesy, Mr.Parani

Image courtesy –

Fostering a culture of positive strokes


You are AWESOME !! ♫

                    Imagine you begin your day with the alarm ringing at 6:00AM. You hit the snooze button. When you finally get up, it’s almost 6:30 and you are running late. You tell yourself you are a bad person for sleeping in. You are feeling down on yourself as you get on the bus to work. A person sitting next to you tells you how nice you look today and this lifts your spirit.

As you reach the workplace, you are greeted by the security guard at the door with a big smile and a warm good morning.  The warmth of the moment facilitates you to reciprocate with a broader smile and a cheerful Good Morning, not just to the guard but to the colleagues you pass by before you reach your desk.

As you reach your desk and power up the monitor, you see the bold words flashing on your mailbox from your Boss:

Hi Sam,

I’m just writing to say that I really appreciate your inputs in our last meeting. Those were some really good ideas. Thank you!

Best regards,


Each of the events that took place in the examples is a personal interaction of some type. And the measure of outcomes of these interactions or transactions (fundamental units of social interaction) is what is referred to as stroke in Berne’s theory of transactional analysis. Berne believed that we seek after strokes as recognition for our transactions. A stroke occurs when one person recognizes another person either verbally or non-verbally.

ID-10029114 This magical word, stroke has persisted right  from our birth. In fact, Berne introduced the idea of strokes into transactional analysis based on the work of Rene Spitz,  a researcher who did pioneering work in the area of child development. Spitz observed that infants deprived of handling, in other words, not receiving any strokes were more prone to emotional and physical difficulties. These infants lacked the cuddling, touching and handling that most other infants received.

Berne took Spitz’s observations of these infants and developed theories about the needs of adults for strokes. As we evolve from childhood to adults at workplace, stroke also takes a greater dimension and space in affecting the way we work. So while an infant needs cuddling, an adult craves a smile, a wink, a hand gesture, or other form of recognition.  At work, in order for a team to reach maximum effectiveness, each individual needs to get the positive strokes they need, while minimizing the negative strokes. Focusing on delivering high value, positive strokes will foster an environment of trust for teams, engaging the employees efficiently to be at their most effective.

I still remember my first day at work, where the activity for the 40 odd freshers gathered in the room, at the end of the day was to give each other a positive stroke to wrap up.  Each of them, having seen and interacted with one another the whole day through various activities, would have to just say a positive sentence about each other of what they had observed.  Besides being a fun activity, it created in us a sense of camaraderie, belief and achievement. And as the days followed up, we developed a stronger bond of trust and friendship among one another.

A study (one from Harvard Business School) reaffirms the same:

From the study:

In the study, participants were asked to solve problems. Just before that, approximately half of the participants received an email from a coworker or friend that described a time when the participant was at his or her best.

Overwhelmingly, those who read positive statements about their past actions were more creative in their approach, more successful at problem-solving and less stressed out than their counterparts.

For instance, participants had three minutes to complete Duncker’s candle problem. Fifty-one percent who had read emails prior to the task were able to successfully complete it; only 19% of those who did not receive “best-self activation” emails were able to solve it.

Those who received praise were also significantly less stressed than the control group.(source).

Lack of recognition for the work we do has consistently been ranked as one of the major causes for bad days at work. Receiving positive strokes strengthen relationships at work, makes us happier, less stressed and more productive.

So go ahead, strike a chord of harmony with your employees through positive strokes. Positive strokes take no time, cost no money and is one of the most effective ways to make a workplace happier, joyful and apparently, more productive.

Here are 4 simple tips on giving positive strokes at work:

  1. Smile – A Curve that sets everything straight.(See more : Smiling at a stranger)
  2. Start an appreciation-email-chain.
  3. ‘Post it’ Notes on Desk.
  4. Give praises and strokes on a recognition platform. Find it here!

It would be great if we could make it a day to day habit to give at least one other person at work a positive stroke of some kind. This can help develop a routine around it and get to a point where it is something we do naturally.



Image courtesy of

 Are you good at giving positive stroke to others? Does your workplace have a culture of the same?Feel free to share your comments.