The Slovenia Times

Emotional Bank Account



Sounds familiar? I surely hope not. If this is the case at your office then you probably work in a psychologically unsafe place which was created by a bad manager. When the communication becomes hostile, defensive, full of verbal battles, emotional withdrawal, or even worse - silence, then this is a clear evidence of a very low level of trust. And it's not just a potential situation at work, it may also happen in a marriage, with kids, between friends and colleagues. Is it possible to turn this negative scenario around?

Yes, it is. But, first we need to understand the concept of the Emotional Bank Account (Covey, 2013). We all know what a financial bank account is, we make deposits into it and build a reserve to later make a withdrawal, if needed. An Emotional Bank Account works the same way, but within a relationship. Kindness, effort, honesty and keeping promises between two people work as deposits, while discourtesy, disrespect, cutting someone off and betraying their trust act as withdrawals.

Trust builds up over the long-run with consistent, small deposits. Our most intimate relationships, such as marriage, close friendships and office team members require constant deposits. This way you build up a reserve; you can feel it as a positive atmosphere where communication is easy, engagement is high and even small mistakes don't really matter since the emotional reserve will compensate for them. However, one large withdrawal might exceed all deposits and the trust between two people is easily gone.

There is no quick fix, building and repairing relationships are long-term investments. You might try very hard and see little effect at first. Don't worry, reserves build up differently with different people, but with consistent deposits the balance is surely positive. First, be sure to clarify expectations. At work this means setting clear goals, which is especially important at the beginning of any work or private relationship. One of the major issues at work or at home can be not explicitly stating what we expect from another person. This can easily lead to disappointment, anger, resentment. Clarifying and fulfilling expectations make great deposits and violating them means withdrawals.

One of the most important  deposits you can make is to really understand the person. In other words, be sure to know the person's 'currency'. What works as a deposit for you (e.g. your friend tags you on Facebook) might not work for somebody else or they might even interpret the same situation as a withdrawal! So, as a leader, subordinate, husband/wife, parent, friend or colleague, try to shut up from time to time and really listen to find the person's deep interests or needs. When you see into person's heart, it will be much easier to build on the trust between you two. Then you can choose the little things which truly matter to that person, such as giving a day off to your team as a manager, complimenting your boss for all the hard work, apologising to your partner or just being there for a sad friend.

Therefore, instead of focusing your energy into your next holiday, new skiing equipment or expensive apartment renewal, try instead to invest in your relationships with others. Let your New Year resolutions build around Emotional Bank Accounts with other significant people in your life. Seek to understand, show effort, keep commitments, be honest and kind, apologise. You will be surprised how fast your life will start to change for the better.

• Covey, S. R. (2013). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, Simon & Schuster, Inc.


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