In his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey introduces a concept called the emotional bank account. Similar to a regular bank account, we make deposits and withdrawals, only these are on an emotional level, and the stakes are much higher.
In our relationships, we typically start off with a neutral balance, and it is our choice to make emotional deposits or withdrawals. The challenge many of us run into is that, much like our current economy, we borrow more than we have available and get so behind that we can’t catch up.
Think of the people in your life who are important to you. What’s your balance? Have you continued to make deposits, building and strengthening relationships? When the other person in the relationship is making deposits at the same rate we are, the relationship flourishes. If, however, we perceive our deposits outweigh theirs or their withdrawals outweigh ours, we end up frustrated and the relationship suffers. Whether you are trying to improve your leadership skills, or simply trying to enjoy more satisfying relationships, maintaining a positive balance is a must.
Here are 7 ways to maintain a positive balance in the emotional bank accounts of those you care about:
1. Be aware. One of the best strategies to maintaining a positive balance is to be aware that the bank account exists. Sometimes, just an awareness that we must deliberately and consciously focus on this can make a big difference. If you’re not sure where you stand, ask. When we’re worried about having money in our bank account, not checking the balance doesn’t fix the situation. It’s better to know where you stand.
2. Do what you say you will do. Whether it’s a small promise or a big commitment, be counted on to be true to your word. Nothing withdraws faster from an emotional bank account than a lack of trust and integrity.
3. Operate with a 100% mindset. Rather than making sure there is a 50/50 balance, take full responsibility for the success of the relationship. If we’re not willing to take full ownership, we end up keeping score, and no one wins when we keep score.
4. Make sure your deposit has value to the other person. We might think we’re the best thing since sliced bread and that our deposits are overwhelmingly positive, but if our actions aren’t meaningful to the other person, we’re likely not to get the results we want. For example, let’s say you have an argument with your significant other, and you decide that to apologize, you’re going to buy them something. If material things aren’t that important to the other person, your effort may be misguided.
5. The little deposits add up. So do the little withdrawals. It’s generally not one big deposit or withdrawal that determines the ending balance of the account, rather the little ones made over a long period of time. Stay vigilant about monitoring your balance to make sure you don’t overdraft!
6. Be there. Sometimes, the biggest deposit you can make is just to be there if you’re needed. While we were going through the hospitalization ordeal with Evan, the biggest deposits were made by those who simply said, “I’m here if you need me.” Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
7. When you make a withdrawal, apologize and make it right. We’re all human, and we are all going to make withdrawals at one time or another. Randy Pausch said that most people do a lousy job of apologizing. He outlined an effective apology in 3 parts: 1. I’m sorry 2. It was my fault. 3. How do I make it right? He said most of us screw up the last part, and that’s the most important step. It’s how you know if someone is sincere.
As you go through your week, stay deliberate and conscious about the deposits and withdrawals you make into the accounts of the people in your life. Overdraft fees are much higher in these accounts.
P.S. I’ve posted an update on Evan’s page. Thank you for your continued prayers!