“We all know what a financial bank account is. We make deposits into it and build up a reserve from which we can make withdrawals when we need to. An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship. It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.
If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to. I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it. My communication may not be clear, but you’ll get y meaning anyway. You won’t make me ‘an offender for a word.’ When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.
But if I have a habit of showing discourtesy, disrespect, cutting you off, overreacting, ignoring you, becoming arbitrary, betraying your trust, threatening you, or playing little tin god in your life, eventually my Emotional Bank Account is overdrawn. The trust level gets very low. Then what flexibility do I have?
None. I’m walking on mine fields. I have to be careful of everything I say. I measure every word. It’s tension city, memo haven. It’s protecting my backside, politicking. And many organizations are filled with it. Many families are filled with it. Many marriages are filled with it.
Our most constant relationships, like marriage, require our most constant deposits. With continuing expectations, old deposits evaporate. If you suddenly run into an old high school friend you haven’t seen for years, you can pick up right where you left off because the earlier deposits are still there. But your accounts with the people you interact with on a regular basis require more constant investment. There are sometimes automatic withdrawals in your daily interactions or in their perception of you that you don’t even know about.”
Unfortunately, many employees I’ve talked with over the years had their Emotional Bank Accounts depleted, demonstrated by their lack of trust, absenteeism, low productivity, back-biting, lying (CYA), anxiety, depression, and short-temperedness. Many were excellent workers, but were resigned to, “just getting by”. What a waste of talent! So-called managers spent more time butt-kissing their bosses than treating their employees with respect, courtesy, support, appreciation, understanding, and open communication.
Next: Habit 4
Six Major Deposits