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How’s your account looking?


Are you in credit? Or slipping ever deeper into overdraft?

I talked last week about Stephen R Covey’s Emotional Bank Account and, in the same way as you can become overdrawn with a normal bank account, it’s possible to become overdrawn with an emotional bank account, too.  The more withdrawals you make – you don’t even have to make them consciously; just think of all your bad habits – the worse the relationship gets.  Eventually, the other person doesn’t just distrust you, they are suspicious of you – your every action is examined for ulterior motives.

It’s possible that you might make so many withdrawals that, no matter what you do, you can never repay the balance – in effect you become emotionally bankrupt with that person and they will regard you with suspicion, perhaps always.  I’ve seen it happen: a leader I know has reached this stage with a lot of the people with whom they work.  No matter what they do, no matter how many deposits they try to make, it makes no difference.  The deposits disappear into the vast well of their overdraft.

To stop things getting to that point, we have to actively be aware of our accounts and monitor them; we have to become conscious of the way we behave and the impact it has on those around us.  We have to consistently focus on making deposits, on maintaining the quality of our relationships, otherwise they will grow cold and the balance will eventually drain away.

There are two things to bear in mind about deposits into the Emotional Bank Account:

You have to mean it

People aren’t stupid and we can tell if you’re doing something just because you think you have to or because someone on a blog told you you should.  If you’re sincere, it will come across.  Sustained deposits, over time, are a hallmark of someone who is sincere.

It’s not a deposit until they think it is

No matter how well-intentioned you are, deposits are in the eye of the beholder.  If the other person doesn’t feel like it’s a deposit, it’s not a deposit.  You have to understand how they see the world and learn what deposits are for them, rather than on relying on what would be a deposit for you.

Trust is the glue that holds relationships together – without trust, there is no relationship, just a series of transactions.  We know that when trust between us and another person is high, things happen much faster and with much greater ease.  There is an almost unspoken communication between you – each understands the other.  Where there is little or no trust, the reverse happens.  Everything slows down; time is taken while each tries to figure out the hidden agenda of the other, wonders what the catch is. 

As Stephen MR Covey makes clear in his book “The Speed of Trust,” the simple truth is that when trust goes up, speed goes up and when trust goes down, speed goes down.  We’ll talk more about that next week.


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