Emotional Bank Accounts

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

My wife and I broke a simple promise with our kids the other night.

For an audio portion of this piece go to: http://grindpodcast.com/2019/01/whats-your-emotional-bank-account-balance/

To some this might not seem like a big deal but I don’t think it was ironic that the following morning during my reading exercise, I read about emotional bank accounts in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

In it, he explains that we all have emotional banks accounts. We can either make deposits or we can make withdrawals from that account with others. The question I propose today is, are you making withdrawals or deposits to those that are important to you.

My wife and I made a promise a couple months ago that Sunday’s would be family day. No matter what, we would hang out as a family at some point throughout that particular day and do something with a massive amount of presence. Snuggle up to a good movie together, play a fun board game, or something else the kids would enjoy.

This particular Sunday we had some friends and family over for an adult game day session that ended up going pretty late. The kids had played very well together all on their own for most of the day.

When we finished up, it was a little late so the plan was dinner and then bed for the kids. Our son Mason had no problem calling us out on the fact that we didn’t have our family time. My wife and I brushed it off like he was just being a bit emotional but I think deep down inside, it affected both of us. We had a twinge of guilt and the feeling that we had let the family down with our lack of planning.

Ironically, the next morning I happen to read the 6 major ways to build emotional bank accounts with those around you and Stephen Covey got a chance to punch me right in the nose at 6am!

1.) Understanding the Individual

How often do we really just listen? It’s more rare than you think. We are always thinking of the next thing we want to say versus just deciding we are going to listen and understand where the other person is coming from. Travesty isn’t it? We think we know all the answers and are quick to give amazing advice in plenty. The folly with this is that we rarely fully understand that every individual’s needs, desires, and problems are so uniquely different.

“By accepting the value of what someone else has to say, you show an understanding that makes a great deposit.”

The hack is that you might not agree with what the other person is conjuring up, and that’s OK. Agreement is not necessary when making deposits in someone else emotional bank account. Being heard is. Try it! Take a moment today to truly hear and understand someone without making judgement.

2.) Attending to the Little Things

“In relationships, the little things are the big things.”

Have you ever experienced the impact of receiving a very purposeful and deep hand written note recently? I have. It’s wonderful!

I’ve received a couple lately that I could tell it took the person writing it a few deep moments to remember an experience we shared and wrote to me about it. I truly felt a connection through that and it made me realize the importance we need to put on the little things.

Sometimes we think we need to do these crazy big things to impress upon those that are important to us that we care for them and all they really want is some recognition from you on the love you have for them.

If you would like to make extremely large deposits in someone’s emotional bank account, go small.

3.) Keeping commitments

This particular topic is the one that really affected me as I read through it.

Breaking promises or commitments is a HUGE withdrawal.

Presently we are an over booked society! Way over promised!

It’s very common today to have a back to back to back to back schedule so it’s easy to either push promises and commitments or cancel them all together.

We have heard the phrase, ‘never make a promise you can’t keep’ but how often do we actually exercise this.

As we have become more and more accustomed to over booking our lives, it’s been made very clear to me, that skipping out on SUPER important commitments for less complicated or hard work type of commitments is an easy thing to have happen.

Stephen Covey writes, “I believe that if you cultivate the habit of always keeping the promises you make, you build bridges of trust that span the gaps of understanding between you and [the people who are important to you]”

If you would like plentiful emotional bank accounts with those around you, keep your promises. This means you have to interrogate your calendar and make sure it reflects that intent.

4.) Clarifying Expectations

One of my favorite books of all time is titled, The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz. In it he describes 4 agreements you need to make with yourself. One of them is to never make assumptions. This is where clarifying expectations comes in.

Making assumptions and being wrong is a great way to make massive withdrawals from someone else’s emotional bank account.

Instead of assuming anything, we all need to speak up! That means either asking more questions about the situation at hand or offering up exactly what you think the situation dictates. Assuming this and that is a quick way to have a relationship be strained and cause unnecessary heartache.

5.) Showing Personal Integrity

How do you act when no one is looking. That is what truly counts or “to be loyal to those who are not present”. It’s too easy to get caught up in gossip or talking bad about someone behind their back. If you are willing to do it with one person than you are willing to do it with anyone. This is where you are inadvertently withdrawing from someone’s emotional bank account without even knowing it. It’s the person you are talking to that it affects.

Showing personal integrity can be very hard at times but you will not regret the impact it makes upon those who notice.

6.) Apologizing Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawal

Our ego gets in the way with this one. It’s impossible to always get it right and you will make mistakes and make withdrawals from people’s emotional bank account. That’s OK! It happens.

What’s important here is that you admit the mistakes quickly, sincerely, and deeply. The words and phrases you use in these situations are extremely important. A couple example from Stephen Covey are:

“I was wrong”

“That was unkind of me”

“I showed you no respect”

“I gave you no dignity, and I’m deeply sorry”

Humility and being vulnerable is so important! This should hurt and not feel comfortable. The more that’s the case, the more you know you have hit it on the head.

Get over yourself and know when you have screwed up. Take ownership of these things at a very high level and see how it affects those around you.

With these 6 tips, you have the power to be extremely rich! Not in terms of just money although using these tips are sure to provide interesting monetary opportunities as a by product. But to be rich in wonderful and deep relationships. This will change your life in ways you never imagine.

Stay frosty and grind on!


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