Monday, March 17, 2014

Check the Balance in Your Emotional Bank Account

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey talks about the concept of emotional bank accounts or trust accounts that you have with the people in your life.  Sean Covey, Steven’s son, refers to them as “relationship accounts” in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.  Noticing the balance in your emotional bank accounts with your spouse and with your children is a terrific way to keep your relationships connected and to make repairs for any disconnects.  Teaching your children about these accounts is a wonderful tool for their life skills tool box.

You have an emotional bank account or trust account with everyone that you know.  Just like an actual bank account, the balance in your emotional account can be influenced by debits and credits.  Debits can include yelling, ignoring, minimizing, using sarcasm, rescuing, name calling, talking about someone behind her back, and fighting.  Deposits can include making eye contact, listening, physical affection, words of affirmation or endearment, gifts, time spent with someone, and acts of service.  The higher the balance, the more trust and closeness you create.  The higher the balance, the greater the buffer to your account when you happen to be human and yell, don’t listen intently, or forget to do something that you agreed to do.

If the amount of cooperation you are receiving from your daughter is low, check out the balance in your trust account with her.  It is probably low or over-drawn.  For example, if someone has ignored you – maybe he didn’t return your phone call or she failed to reply to a question in an e-mail or he pretended to listen while he was actually focused on something else – are you more or less likely to be cooperative with him?  When you imagine that happening over a long period of time, you can see the impact on your emotional bank account.  Over time, the small things – listening to your spouse talk about a difficulty at work, making eye contact when your child walks in the door from school, or fixing that flat tire on her bike – make the biggest difference in your relationships.

The balance in your emotional bank accounts is a great barometer to measure the closeness and cooperation in all of your relationships.  Make it a practice to check your account balance every week with the significant people in your life, and have fun adding deposits.  You will experience a wonderful return on your investment!