The Emotional Bank Account

The Emotional Bank Account

Have you heard of the emotional bank account? It’s not the kind of bank account you can open at Barclays or Chase. It’s a metaphor coined by best selling author Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) describing the quality of human relationships based on deposits and withdrawals.


I learned about the emotional bank account at a transformational leadership training session a few years ago and after revisiting some of my notes, I thought it would be of value to you. The emotional bank account philosophy should serve you well in your business and personal relationships if you apply it daily. As the saying goes, relationships involve ‘give and take’. Too much take and not enough give will leave you ‘in the red’ with your relationships so it’s important to run your relationships as you would a bank account if you want to win with people.


We all know how normal bank accounts work: we make deposits, save up money, and make cash withdrawals as we need to. The emotional bank account describes a relationship account based on trust instead of money. When we talk about trust, we are talking about having confidence in someone knowing they will fulfil their obligations in the relationship, and that they have your best interests at heart.


Has someone ever asked you for a favour or expected something from you but there hadn’t been much prior contact or rapport? It feels awkward doesn’t it? Even when it comes from a person you know well, if they frequently ask for favours without providing much value to you, you might feel reluctant to fulfil their request. This is an example of an emotional bank account in overdraft. A healthy emotional bank account has a healthy balance of deposits vs withdrawals.




Right now I’ll give you 6 examples of how you can make deposits and keep your emotional bank accounts in credit, helping you win with people.


1) Understand the other person
Have you taken the time to listen to the other person to find out their likes and dislikes? It’s important to empathise with people and how they may feel. Always act with kindness and be courteous whenever possible. People love to feel listened to and generally dislike indifference.


2) Keep to your word
How does it feel when you arrange to meet with someone and they turn up on time? You’d feel that the other person respects you and your time, as opposed to if they were to turn up late. When you keep your commitments to others it builds trust and respect.


3) Remember the little things
Little things consistently done over an extended period of time always amounts to big things. Making small gestures of kindness, paying compliments and showing general manners are little things we can do to build and maintain relationships with others.


4) Make your expectations clear
We sometimes expect people to automatically know what we want. This happens a lot in relationships. People are not mind readers, so lay out your expectations early on to avoid miscommunication and disappointment.


5) Be accountable for your actions 
When you’ve made a withdrawal, for example when you’re at fault, you have to sincerely apologise and accept your fault. This is something that destroys personal relationships daily. Human beings rarely like to admit that THEY are in the wrong and are quick to blame the other person. Doing this repeatedly WILL put your emotional bank account with the other person in overdraft and destroy the trust built. Getting over yourself is key to a good relationship.




6) Show Integrity 
Integrity is the foundation of a solid relationship. When we put integrity at the forefront of what we do daily, it makes it so much easier for people to trust us. For example honesty and consistency in character at all times is crucial for building trust.


To conclude, relationships need constant investment. When your account is in credit with someone it’s so much easier to be yourself and be liked. That’s because you’ve built up enough of an emotional reserve with the other person. If you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world because the other person has enough confidence in your character for the relationship to still be ‘in credit’.




If you’re disrespectful to people, talk with sarcasm, interrupt others or ignore people, the emotional bank account goes into ‘overdraft’ because you’ve overspent on trust. Your spouse, kids, colleagues and friends all have an account with you, and depending on how much you invest and withdraw every day, that will be the determining factor of how good your relationships will be with them.


What investments have you made today? If you found this post valuable, please share with your friends and family and find out what they think. It would be great to have your feedback by commenting below. If you would like more of this content, I’d appreciate if you could subscribe to the blog by clicking here.

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emraps via photopin cc

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