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The Emotional Bank Account

Steven Covey, author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People talks about the concept of an emotional bank account and it is a notion I like.

The concept is that we have an “emotional bank account” for every relationship that we have. So an account exists between you and your partner, your child, your friend, your sister etc. Every time that you do something positive for that relationship, it is like making a deposit in the bank account. Every time you cause a strain on the relationship it is like making a withdrawal from the account. In order for your relationship to be healthy you want to keep that account in the positive! If it becomes overdrawn then you are putting the relationship at risk.

In my wallet I have a few little motivational reminders … one of them is from Covey and it lists the kind of things that cause deposits in the emotional bank account and the things that cause withdrawals. The fact the card is there reminds me to keep working those accounts!

It really doesn’t take much effort to either help a relationship, or to hurt it. The kind of things that help any relationship involve being thoughtful, kind, loyal, open, honest and truly trying to understand the other person. The kind of behaviours that cause issues involve thoughtlessness, deceit, being unkind, selfish, arrogant and not listening.

I think the bank account analogy is good because it reminds us to make deposits and that when we do occasionally cause pain that a relationship can handle that … if we make it up!

If you were to list the most important people in your life and look at those bank accounts what would you find? Are you being a good friend, partner, employee, boss and daughter? What little things could you do to add to those accounts? A thoughtful word, a quick email, a hand written card, a smile, a thank you … it really doesn’t take much but it can mean a lot.

Take care of those accounts they mean a lot more than the money accounts!