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Sneaky Strokes

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: January 24, 2006
Latest Update: January 24, 2006

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Index of Topics on Site Self Test
on Sneaky Strokes as Silent Stimuli to Illocutionary Discourse

  1. What does the "sneaky" in sneaky strokes mean?

    Consider that we don't mean "sneaky" in the sense of being underhanded or manipulative. We mean "sneaky" in the sense of having an effect on the interaction without calling attention to itself. Once you start to feel the good stroking and its pleasurable effects the technique simply disappears into your entire repertoire of behaviors. Trust me, Rabbis don't think to themselves "now I'll hold this person's hand for a couple of seconds to let them know I really mean this attention and interest." They just do it as part of their natural response. That doesn't mean that we can't learn by using their behavior as a model. (Bandura and Walters, learning by modelling behavior.)

  2. Do sneaky strokes techniques consist of simple behaivoral modification?

    I think there's more to it than that. Yes, the actions do serve as positive feedback, and so they would probably stimulate more of the behavior that the supervisor or executive was rewarding. But, at the same time, the theories of modelling behavior and of cognitive dissonance suggest that the behaviors used in training techniques are solidly founded in the theoretical work of social psychology and building better interpersonal relationships.

  3. Do you think it's dishonest and manipulative to use sneaky strokes?

    No, I don't. But I do see the concern suggested by the question. The technique could be used manipulatively. But manipulative would imply that the person giving the sneaky stroke did so purely for his/her own benefit. The literature on which the effectiveness of the technique is founded, however, suggests that such behavior is good for the relationships involved. Instead of seeing the use of sneaky strokes as manipulative, we might consider that if one uses them, even manipulatively, cognitive dissonance theory would suggest that over time they will become automatic responses to good relationship behavior.

    Recall that cognitive dissonance theory says that the more we do unwelcome tasks, the harder we work to explain to ourselves that those tasks were worth doing. So maybe the technique can kind of sneak up on you and make you into a nicer, more loving relationship partner.

  4. Does it matter that the Other recognizes that sneaky strokes are involved?

    Not as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully, the Other will learn to give back sneaky strokes, and the whole relationship will improve.

  5. Will it work to just tell people that they should use sneaky strokes?

    Maybe some people. But most of us learn by doing, by modelling what works for others.

  6. What's with the "illocutionary discourse" in this regard?

    Good question. Sneaky strokes are one way of assuring the other that you are trying to relate and to understand what motivates his/her position in this relationship. So this is a good technique for encouraging illocutionary discourse.

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