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How’s your Emotional Bank Account?…

Image courtesy of Fabiano Panizzi on Flickr

I have been reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  As I read the first couple of chapters, I found the book to be pretty insightful, but also felt that that it did not stand out from the many other many self help books that I have read.  It didn’t stand out until Habit 3 and the metaphor of the Emotional Bank Account.  All at once everything made sense to me.  I instantly found this idea to be one of most powerful concepts that I had even heard.  It explains relationship functions and dysfunctions very clearly.  We begin all relationships with a neutral balance in our account.  As we interact deposits and withdrawals are made based on trust.  When we show love, kindness, and trustworthiness, a deposit is made into our relationship’s Emotional Bank Account.  Withdrawals are made when we act in ways which cause our partner to feel negative emotions.  The higher the balance in our account, the more solid the footing for our relationship.

Mr. Covey explains with the following… “If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you I build up a reserve.  Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to.  I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve will compensate for it.” …”But if I have a habit of showing discourtesy, disrespect, cutting you off, overreacting, ignoring you or playing little tin god in your life, eventually my Emotional Bank Account is overdrawn.  The trust level gets very low.” …”If a large reserve of trust is not sustained by continuing deposits, a marriage will deteriorate.”  …”Our most constant relationships, like marriage, require our most constant deposits.”

He also discusses Six Major Deposits.  They are…

1. Understanding the Individual

It is so important to understand our partner in any relationship.  By really understanding their point of view and their reality we are better able to make deposits in the account because we are able to touch their needs and interests.  He gives the example of a man that went to see every Major League Baseball team play in a six week period with his son.  The man did not even like baseball, but he understood that it was important to his son.  When he was asked if he really liked baseball that much, he replied “No, but I like my son that much.”  Not hard to see how the deposit he made by taking interest in his son was a big one.

2. Attending to the Little Things

“The little kindnesses and courtesies are important.  Small discourtesies, little unkindnesses, little forms of disrespect, make large withdrawals.  In relationships, the little things are the big things.” People really appreciate the small signs of gratitude and kindness.  He also points out that he feels people are very tender inside.  I agree that we all have the little boy or girl in our heads helping to guide us through life.

3. Keeping Commitments

I have had problems in the past keeping commitments.  I am sure many people have problems in this area and most of us never really thought about the damage that this has to our relationships with others.  However it is mentioned that…“Keeping a commitment or a promise is a major deposit; breaking one is a major withdrawal.  In fact, there’s probably not a more massive withdrawal than to make a promise that’s important to someone and then not to come through.” In other words; we are what we do, not what we say.

4. Clarifying Expectations

“The cause of almost all relationship difficulties is rooted in conflicting or ambiguous expectations around roles and goals.”  We often set out with good intentions in a relationship, but we withdraw from the account because of ambiguity.  We assume that our needs are known.  We fail to realize that the other person has a different voice in his\her head.  We sometimes treat relationships as though our needs are expresses through osmosis.  If we clarify out expectations up front, we not only save ourselves from making a withdrawal, but actually make a deposit into our Emotional Bank Account.

5. Showing Personal Integrity

Integrity is not just honesty…“Honesty is telling the truth-in other words, conforming our words to reality.  Integrity is conforming reality to our words.” It is very important to be loyal to those who are not present.  It shows a lack of integrity to talk behind the back of others, and by doing so you earn the respect of those that are present.  Integrity also involves keeping secrets, and not being a gossip.  It is simply that you treat everyone by the same set of principles.

6. Apologizing Sincerely When We Make a Withdrawal

When we do make withdrawals from our account, we need to sincerely apologize for our error.  It takes a strong person to apologize as soon as a mistake is made.  An apology that is sincere and heartfelt is actually a deposit in the bank.  It may not totally compensate for the withdrawal, but it helps to heal the hurt.  It shows integrity and self awareness to say that you have done wrong.  Remember..  “If you are going to bow, bow low.”

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5 comments to How’s your Emotional Bank Account?…

  • yellowbird

    Hey Brianohio…….Found your blog on Steve’s forum. Very interesting reading. I still have more to go, but since your blog is titled “If only you applied your self”….an underacheiver’s quest to change his life, this inquiring mind had a couple questions. Since you write that you are an underachiever, I am wondering what you have been achieving since you started this blog. . How is your “Plan” doing? Have you been able to achieve any of those? Bathroom, house painting, floor, etc. You stated you would let us know how your “Plan” progressed. This is the middle of Oct. And I was just curious. What about your computer repair business? How is that coming along? Like I said I have an inquiring mind.

    Congratulations on your new job. Maybe this will help you in a lot of ways. I wish you well with this.

    I just finished the rest of your blog. Looks like you do a lot of reading. Reading all those self-help books has given you a lot of ideas you are trying to execute for yourself. Or are you just trying to fool us all into thinking that? Like I said I have an inquiring mind.

    Sorry to hear about your friend Warthog. Hope he is doing better.

    Didn’t mean to rattle on, but just was wondering how you are progressing. Are you just reading all those books and just writing about them? Or are they actually helping you in your every day life? Again……my curious mind.

    By the way, how do you make a donation to your blog?

  • yellowbird…

    First, I want to thank you for asking about my life. I will fill you in on the details…

    I have not been updating the blog about the plan as I had hoped. Here is where I stand. The bathroom is still being dry walled. I just finished the ceiling last night. I have to tape and finish about one third still. I have not made the progress that I had hoped on the house, but I have made strides elsewhere. I have worked on three computers since advertising and have posted several more ads around town. My new job is great, I am very proud that I actually made the move. I have improved myself so much in the last several months and I have never been more proud. I think differently and see things differently and I think I can credit much of the reading I have done for that. I keep short notes on every book that I read. When I am done with the book, I review the notes and then add them to the “cheat sheet” that I have in my wallet. It has ideas, comments and questions from all the books on it. I can read over the sheet anytime that I feel I should and be reminded of the things that I found most helpful. Many of the ideas are common to most books, but I must say that I have taken at least a few ideas from every book that I have read.

    Warthog is home now and doing much better. I have talked to him a few times and he sounds as though he is going to give it his all. I thank you for your concern.

    If you’d like to donate to the blog, just click on the “Donate” button just under the header on the right. This will take you to PayPal.

    Once again, thank you for reading and I hope you will visit on a regular basis.


  • Alot of great tips….Hope all is well with you….

    Dawns last blog post..What A Great Family Day At Fort Jackson….

  • yellowbird

    Brian…….thanks for your reply. So how does your personal life stand now? You started your blog about that and how you are an underchiever. Then it seems like you went off in another direction. I take that as your life with S. being settled down.

    By the way Brian, being in Ohio (I assume that is where you live)it is going to start snowing there soon and I would think you would want to achieve the house painting before that.

    Never got into “the force” but enjoyed your thoughts on it. But I sure would like to have a river near me to go set by and meditate. Seems like you have a good thing.

    Also your eyes, forehead and hair line does resemble T Hanks….

  • My life is settled in that we don’t have explosions and fights anymore. We still live apart and she does not want to talk about “us”. Things are not very bright, but I am happy with the changes I feel inside myself and the new way that I look at things. I love her more than ever and as I have said, I her to find happiness. I still believe that we can make it, but it takes two.

    As for the blog going in a different direction, it probably has because my outlook has changed. I still want to chronicle my underachieving, but as I work on it there is less subject matter. I see that as a good thing. I do need to update things other than my relationship though.

    Painting season is almost over, you are right. There is about ten percent that still needs done. I’ll try and have an update next week.

    Tom Hanks? I swear I never heard that before. Maybe I’ll post a different picture.

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