What’s the balance on your emotional bank account?

What’s the balance on your emotional bank account?

Bank accounts are relatively easy to understand – you make deposits of money so that you have a balance on which to draw, and you make withdrawals of money when you need to. The goal is to have more money in your account than you’re withdrawing so that you don’t overdraw and bounce a check. What could that possibly have to do with leading thoughtfully???

Stephen Covey, in his wildly successful book 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, talks about an “emotional bank account.” He uses the concept of a bank account to illustrate how we build, and ruin, relationships with other people. When we treat others kindly, when we do what we say we’re going to do, when we say “please” and “thank you” and “hello,” when we’re on time and thoughtful – we “make deposits” into our emotional bank account and strengthen our relationships with others. They come to know, like, and trust us and we have a full bank account on which to draw.

And draw we do. When we’re late for a meeting or unintentionally rude, when we forget what we promised and drop the ball, when we’re rushed and inconsiderate – when we act in the less-than-nice ways that many of us inadvertently do when we’re running around trying to get things done – we make withdrawals on our emotional bank account. We begin to deplete the trust and positive feelings. We behave in ways that annoy others and they begin to regard us more negatively.

That’s why it’s important to make as many deposits into our emotional bank accounts as possible – so that when the withdrawals do happen, and they will, there is plenty of “emotional currency” to keep us from overdrawing. By building the strongest relationships we can with those around us, we have more to draw on when we mess up. Others around us can forgive us and move forward.

Do you agree?

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