How about some Afternoon Coffee today!
For school I am reading the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. So far, it’s been an amazing book with tons of important information about building effective relationships. All types of relationships. Ones with your spouse or significant other, your kids, your family members, co-workers, bosses, employees, and any people you meet and have consistent communication with.
The other day I started to listen to some audio recorded by Stephen Covey about some of the principles in his books. In one section he uses a metaphor he refers to as the Emotional Bank Account. Like a regular bank account where you can deposit and take out money, the Emotional Bank Account is filled with the amount of Trust and safety, aka the social capital, that is built up in relationships. We all have an emotional bank account with others where deposits and withdraws are made that build or lessen the trust and safety within the relationship.
You can make deposits in one’s account by doing thing like acting kind, keeping your word, are courteous, etc. You can also make withdraws from one’s account by being unkind, disrespectful, breaking promises, etc. When you consistently make deposits, you may build the account up enough to where you have a reserve capacity meaning others trust towards you continues to rise. This allows you to make mistakes and that emotional reserve will compensate if they have enough deposits in the Emotional account, unless your mistakes are too large or too continuous, then it can drain the account. Sometimes one huge mistake can overdraw your whole emotional bank account and leave it overdrawn.
In cases where the account is constantly overdrawn, the relationship can end up feeling very strained and it seems like nothing you do will help because the trust and safety has been lost. Even when new deposits are attempted, it can feel like manipulation and distrustful. Communication seems to disperse leaving you with an emotional discord. Sadly there are many organizations and families that have this dynamic.
He goes on to list 8 important areas where deposits or withdraws are made from the Emotional Bank Account:
1. Frame of Reference
Deposit: Understanding their frame of reference.
Withdraw: Assuming their frame of reference is the same as yours.
This is the number one thing you must understand. This is so important because until you understand how others see a deposit or withdraw, you wont know what matters to them. You have to know which deposits are important to them and which withdraws are important. Understand what are the highest deposits and what are the highest withdrawals. You HAVE to make those deposits in their frame of reference instead of your own. It would be wrong to assume that whats important to you is the same thing that’s important to them because then you will be unclear how much you are actually depositing or withdrawing.
2. Promises to Another
Deposit: Making and Keeping Promises
Withdraw: Not Making and Breaking Promises
First know which promises are important then you make them and keep them. The moment you create a promise you create a hope. When you create a hope then people anticipate you to follow through. This makes them open and vulnerable so when you don’t follow through, this can cause huge withdraws. Some people make promises too easy because they love the thought of others being happy with them. When the promise isn’t kept then illusionment sets in, meaning your promise wasn’t real. The more promises you break, the more your word just becomes an illusion. If you are into building trust then that will matter more than being liked. Always count the cost before you make it. Steer clear of avoiding making promises all together out of fear of breaking them. Sometimes the anticipation for someone can be just as rewarding as the result of following through. Always count the cost before you make it.
3. Simple Kindness
Deposits: small words and acts of kindness
Withdraw: small words and acts o f unkindness.
When we show our kindness, small words and small acts can go a long way making huge deposits into the Emotional Bank Account. Just as easily though, little signs of unkindness and disrespect can cause huge withdrawals from the account. “In relationships the little things are the big things”.
Deposits: Clarifying Expectations
Withdraw: Having Ambiguous or Violating Expectations
The root cause of all breakdowns come from confusing/ambiguous or violating expectations. This happens because when the expectations are unclear then each person is working according to their own expectations and it can be easy for the other person to not meet them. This is why relationships can be so wonderful in the beginning but deteriorate as they go along. It is a must to clarify what your goals and roles are. In most cases people don’t talk about these things and work on the assumption that the other person is violating their expectations. Make your expectations very clear and consistently check in and go over them before the issue gets too big. Often people go through entire relationships with differing expectations which only causes anger, resentment, shaming, blaming, and constant violating. Remember, just because you clarify your expectations, doesn’t mean they will match with the other persons but this is why it’s important to do so in the beginning to understand how you will move forward.
5. Being Loyal to the Absent
Deposit: Talking about people in the absent as you would as if they were present.
Withdraw: Bad Mouthing people behind their backs
If you want to maintain trust in a relationship with those who are present you have to maintain trust in those who are absent. This causes you to cultivate trust and humility as well as moderate your tone and voice. Bad talking can be a very hard habit to break because people find comfort in talking about others and their sins esp with others that agree with them. When you bad mouth those that are absent it can be a withdraw for those you are talking to because then they wonder when and if you are bad mouthing them as well when they are absent. It is fine to mention others when they are absent but make sure its constructive criticism and again something you could say to them in their presence. The opposite can leads to duplicity, where you act one way in absent and another way in present of the person. This double mindedness can cause instability in your other relationships. Always assume that what you’re saying eabout another, they can hear. If you’re afraid to talk to them, then don’t talk about them. Be loyal to the absent.
Deposit: Giving and Receiving Feedback
Withdraw: Withdawing from Giving and Receiving Feedback
It is important to use “I” statements versus “You” statements. “I”‘ Messages describe how you see it instead of putting you in the position where you appear to be judging the other. People resent when they feel judged. Using an “I” statements keeps it about your feelings. When you share your concern also share your perception of their good qualities in them,so they know that outside of your feedback you still see and value their true nature. Patience and self-control is important when giving these kinds of deposits. It works when its sincere and the relationship is in a good place before sharing the concern. When you try to just get to the point and use a “you” message it will not work as well and can cause for big withdraws.
7. Giving and Receiving From Others.
Deposit: Patience and Persuasion
Withdraw: Physical Force and Coercion
This relates to #6 above about feedback. A lot of people work with a “I’ll give you this if you give me that” or using their power and force to get something. Although these methods could work, you can violate the trust in the other person while also developing a dependency in you and in the other in that power. The opposite of that method is patience, softness, gental persuasion, empathic respect. The cumulative effect in this way has more benefits. It also shows that what you think of them matters much more than the mistake they are being corrected for. Patience is an active quality that in essence has faith hope and charity.
8. Hurting or Being Hurt By Others.
Deposit: Apologizing with true sincerity / forgiving others
Withdraw: Always defending, justifying and explaining mistakes / holding grudges against others.
This one is a two in one. It’s what you do when you have wronged others or have been wronged by others. If you have wronged others, it is important to apologize with sincerity. Insincerity doesn’t work. It’s better to go all the way and have integrity. We constantly need to apologize because we are constantly making mistakes. Ex: “I am sorry for embarrassing you in front of your friends and causing you to feel upset. I will not do that again and if for some reason I do unknowingly, please bring it to my attention and I will apologize again”.
Sometimes other people offend us and don’t apologize. What happens in those cases? We have to learn to forgive. Forgiving is an important deposit. An ultimate withdrawal is to hold a grudge because it will fester and causes a deep rupture in relationships. More damage is done in not forgiving then in the original offense. If you’ve been offended then take the initiative instead of waiting around for someone else. It builds an internal source of personal security. If you can be more open and vulnerable and allow other people to change and start a new day. Give new chances everyday. Dont protect and get defensive. Its unhealthy and undermines our relationships. We have to allow ourselves to change but also allow others to change. Forgive and Forget.
When listening to all these areas that Covey explained, I started seeing in which areas my own relationships could use some work. If not all areas. I will admit that I spent time thinking about where other people may have gone wrong to cause MY emotional bank account to be drained and overdrawn. Looking at it this way can be important only if I am using that knowledge to better understand my frame of mind and what’s important to me in order to express that to others down the line instead of using the knowledge for shaming and blaming others. If you spend time shaming and blaming then you put yourself in a very reactive situation, meaning you’re wanting to change things out of your control. This can be very disempowering
Instead, look at these 8 aspects and focus on where you could do better. Be PROactive in your relationships. Look at what control YOU have regarding the deposits and withdraws you are making in others accounts. Focus on your responsibility. Although we’d like others to treat us certains ways and we want our emotional bank accounts full, which is important, we can only control our own actions and then inspire others to treat us in a similar manner. If in turn we do not feel met, we will feel more empowered to make the changes neccessary because we are doing our part.
In the end its the moves YOU make that build your integrity, dependability, values, and character. What areas can you improve? Which ways can you make more deposits and less withdraws? Make some comments below!