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The idea of an "Emotional Bank Account" or "EBA" is one I find very helpful. Stephen Covey is credited with making the term popular. I have copied a few articles from the Net which summarize Covey's ideas about the EBA. I also want to add a couple of my own ideas.
First, I would place more emphasis on helping someone feel cared about. Depending on the relationship, for example if it is a working relationship or a romantic one, you might actually ask the other person how much they feel cared about by you and what helps them feel cared about and what would help them feel more cared about. Just asking will show that you care enough to ask, and it will make a deposit into their EBA. I recommend using the zero to ten scale when asking how much they feel cared about -
I would also recommend you ask how much they feel understood by you. Here is more on the idea of helping someone feel understood.
Covey talks about the importance of clarifying expectations. I think he is mainly talking about a work relationship or some kind of relationship where one person is more of an authority figure. Personally, I really don't think I would want my partner to tell me what she "expected" of me. Nor would I want to tell her what I "expected" of her. We are both very sensitive and I believe we would both feel somewhat offended and perhaps even threatened if we were to say it that way. On the other hand, I agree that it can be very frustrating to try to read someone's mind, as one of the articles below points out. What I would recommend instead of talking about what we "expect" of someone, is to clearly and directly communicate our feelings and our emotional needs.
In any case, below you will find more writing about the concept of an emotional bank account.
Here is something Covey says about trust and EBA's
If you have lost someone's trust....
Covey also says "When you make consistent deposits, out of your integrity and out of your empathy.." then, "little by little you can restore trust."
I would add that it will help to think of all the human emotional needs, such as acceptance, appreciation, understanding, so you can consciously try to make small deposits in each area. They all go into the EBA and strengthen it.
|Emotional Bank Account - By Mirjam
Busch & Rudolf Jarosewitsch
When you are kind, honest,
caring and friendly to another person, you make deposits
on an Emotional Bank Account. However, if you are unkind,
disrespectful, uncaring and mean, you draw from this
|The Emotional Bank Account - By:
Stanley E. Hibbs, Ph.D.
Is your family life as pleasant and fulfilling as it could be? If not, do not despair because there are things you can do to improve the quality of your family relationships. In his landmark book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, Steven Covey introduces us to the concept of the emotional bank account. If a relationship is wounded, we have probably made too many withdrawals and not enough deposits into that person s account. We make deposits into his/her account by praise, positive attention, sincere apologies, or acts of service. Examples of withdrawals are such things as criticism, sarcasm, ignoring, or failing to keep promises.
Even with the people we love the most, our bank account is usually seriously overdrawn. The only solution is to regularly make deposits while avoiding withdrawals. This takes courage and considerable self-discipline. After all, you may believe that their account with you is seriously overdrawn, and you may resent having to be the one to change. However, change must start somewhere, so it might as well start with you.
It might help you to think of these deposits as long-term investments. You probably will not see results immediately. In fact, your loved ones might think there is something wrong with you. Nevertheless, if you persist, you will be rewarded many times over. It s a small price to pay for a happier family live.
About Stanley E. Hibbs...
Stanley E. Hibbs, Ph.D., is a therapist based in Dunwoody, GA, specializing in organizational/life management, performance enhancement, addiction issues, adolescent issues, marriage/couples issues, depression, phobias, and more.
Paradigms of Interdependence - July 3, 1997
Victories in our personal development precede our public victories. Independence is the foundation of interdependence.
The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or do, but who we are. If our words and actions come from superficial human relations techniques (the Personality Ethic) rather than from our inner core (the Character Ethic), others will sense that duplicity.
Interdependence opens worlds of possibilities for deep, meaningful associations, greater productivity, service, contribution and growth. It also exposes us to greater pain.
In order to receive the benefits of interdependence, we need to create and care for the relationships that are the source of the benefits.
The Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor describing relationships and the P/PC (Production versus building Production Capacity) balance for interdependence. It describes how trust is built on a relationship.
Positive behaviors are deposits building a reserve. Negative behaviors are withdrawals. A high reserve balance results in higher tolerance for our mistakes and more open communication.
There are six major deposits we can make to the emotional bank account:
Understanding the individual. An individual's values determine what actions will result in a deposit or a withdrawal for that individual. To build a relationship, you must learn what is important to the other person and make it as important to you as the other person is to you. Understand others deeply as individuals and then treat them in terms of that understanding.
Attend to the little things, which are the big things in relationships.
Keep commitments. Breaking a promise is a major withdrawal.
Clarify expectations. The cause of almost all relationship difficulties is rooted in ambiguous, conflicting expectations around roles and goals. Making an investment of time and effort up front saves time, effort and a major withdrawal later.
Show personal integrity. A lack of integrity can undermine almost any effort to create a high trust reserve. Honesty requires conforming our words to reality. Integrity requires conforming reality to our words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.
The key to the many is the one, especially the one that tests the patience and good humor of the many. How you treat the one reveals how you regard the many, because everyone is ultimately a one.
Apologize sincerely when you make a withdrawal. Sincere apologies are deposits, but repeated apologies are interpreted as insincere, resulting in withdrawals.
The Laws of Love and the Laws of Life:
In giving unconditional love, we help others
feel secure, safe and validated, which gives them the
emotional security to do the same for others. Making
conditions for our approval creates defensiveness and
insecurity, breaking down the bonds of interdependence.
Imagine the concept of an emotional
bank account in your relationship. Of course it doesn't
actually exist in any physical sense, but it helps to
understand why some issues that appear to be small become
If so, you're making deposits, and keep up the good work!
Have you been lazy?
If so, it's time to stop bleeding
the account and begin making more deposits. Thank each
other for the deposits. Acknowledge when you or your
partner has made a withdrawal.
|Building an Emotional Bank Account
with Your Employees
Gulf Breeze, FL (January 2006)--Leaders, do your employees say communication could be better? Would they like more input into corporate decisions? Do they wish their contributions were more appreciated? If so, consider focusing more attention on what Quint Studer, CEO of Studer Group, calls "building an emotional bank account" with your employees. Not only is it the right thing to do, it's good insurance for the future. Eventually, your employees will feel let down--so you must ensure there's enough emotional capital in the account for that metaphorical rainy day.
"Most leaders truly want to do the right thing," asserts Studer, author of Hardwiring Excellence: Purpose, Worthwhile Work, Making a Difference (Fire Starter Publishing, 2004, ISBN: 0-9749986-0-5, $28.00). "They want positive, productive, trust-based relationships with their people. But let's face it: perfection doesn't exist in leaders or in companies. You put in enough 'deposits' so that when the inevitable 'withdrawals' are made--let's say you forget to say thank you or you have to institute pay cuts--there's enough goodwill in the account to salvage those relationships."
Withdrawals, Studer points out, are usually weightier than deposits--so great leaders do everything they can to make more of the latter. For instance:
· Diagnose employee satisfaction--and act on the results. Use a proven, respected assessment tool to figure out where your problems lie. Then, commit to solving them. "One of the biggest issues we see in our work with clients is that people say, 'Well, they measured our satisfaction but nobody responded to what we said,'" says Studer. "We advise organizations to be open about the results and have everyone to vote on the top three issues. Eventually, you should address them all, but start with the top three."
· Harvest best practices. If assessments reveal that a high number of employees cite "poor communication" as a problem, dig deeper. You may find that one department manager got great communication scores. Find out what she is doing right and reward her. Then, work to apply her communication practices throughout the organization. "Your company doesn't really have a problem with poor communication, just inconsistent communication," says Studer. "Take what people are doing right and expand it. It's much more effective than trying to start from scratch--and it builds goodwill."
· Announce that you're making changes. Accept skepticism, but not cynicism. "Tell employees specifically what you are going to fix," says Studer. "Naturally, they will be skeptical. You can even tell them that skepticism is fine, even expected, but ask that they try not to be cynical. If they start rolling their eyes and say, 'Oh, we've heard all that before,' tell them, 'Look, you can be part of the problem or you can be open to change and see good things start to happen.'"
· Go for "quick wins" to establish credibility. A quick win is an action that shows employees you really are committed to meeting their needs. If you are trying to establish an environment of fairness, for instance, don't "pull rank" as a senior leader and cut in line. Don't insist on having the parking spot nearest the door. (Not only will it send a signal that you're no more important than anyone else, the longer parking lot trek gives you the opportunity to talk to employees and stay on top of what's going on in your company.) Perhaps your quick win might take the form of getting a department a piece of equipment that employees have requested for years, or finally dealing with a low performer who's been dragging everyone down.
Sometimes you won't know what your quick win is until the moment it presents itself. And seemingly small gestures can have a big impact. In Hardwiring Excellence, Studer tells a story about his first day as administrator at a new hospital. He asked a nurse how he could make her job better, and she said she was frightened walking to her car at night because of the tall bushes by the parking lot. While she worked that day, Studer got the bushes trimmed and put up a small fence. It made the nurse feel safe and, more to the point, valued as an employee and as a person.
· "Round" relentlessly. Studer is a huge proponent of leadership "rounding," a process similar to the one doctors use to check on their patients. In the business world, a CEO, VP, or department manager "makes the rounds" daily to check on the status of his or her employees. "Basically, you take an hour a day to touch base with employees, make a personal connection, recognize successes, find out what's going well, and determine what improvements can be made," says Studer. "And of course, you fix any problems that come up. Rounding is the heart and soul of building the emotional bank account, because it shows employees day in and day out that you care."
· Get rid of low performers. Make no mistake: your employees don't want to work with low performers. Nothing makes employees as discouraged and resentful as having to co-exist with people who don't pull their own weight. In fact, low performers usually drive high performers right out the door. "Turning a blind eye to these people quickly drains the emotional bank account you're trying to build up with your good employees," says Studer. "However hard it may seem, you must move these people up or out."
· Avoid creating a "We/They" culture. The temptation to get on your employees' good side by saying (for instance), "Well, I fought for the budget increase but this is all I could get," can be huge. It may feel easier or more comfortable at the moment, but ultimately you're dividing the staff instead of uniting them. Of course, few leaders deliberately foster a "We/They" mentality, but it can be easy to do subconsciously. "Interestingly, the other side of the coin--'I know you've begged for more money for years and here I took care of it in one afternoon!'--can be equally divisive," adds Studer. "When you solve a big problem overnight, you might be undermining mid-level supervisors who've been working on a problem for a long time. Don't walk around and perform magic."
· Be open and truthful with your employees, no matter how difficult it may be. "Let's say you know that part of your organization is going to be outsourced in the next few months, or that there are going to be major cuts in benefits," says Studer. "Even if it doesn't directly affect your team, it certainly impacts them on an emotional level. Once the decision is final, you owe it to your employees to tell them. Don't wait for them to read it in the paper. They will know that you knew all along--and a huge amount of trust will be lost."
In the end, of course, trust is what building a healthy emotional bank account is all about, says Studer.
"When you've always been up front with your employees, and proven every day that you want what's best for them, they'll give you the benefit of the doubt when things don't go their way," he says. "They might not like it, and they may be angry. But they won't feel betrayed to the point of leaving. They'll realize that you've always treated them like adults, with respect and consideration. And that's when you'll truly see the value of the work you've been doing. That emotional capital you've invested will save the relationship--you'll see that it's the very foundation of a healthy company."
About the Author:
Quint Studer, a former hospital president and 20-year health care veteran, is founder and CEO of Studer Group,SM headquartered in Gulf Breeze, FL.
This concept is so simple and so real. It simply states that just like a financial bank, we deposit and borrow from people we deal with everyday. The account we use if the one we open with each and everyone we meet and work with.
Simply put, we need to have a minimum deposit and keep filling in the account to make it work. It helps when we have to make withdrawals. The deposits are simple ones, like acknowledging the other, common courtesies, keeping the small promises we make, being sincere in helping, being sincere in owning up to mistakes made and apologizing with intent to repair the damage done and so on. The small stuff. But all this has to be made unconditionally without plans for withdrawals. No strings attached.
When withdrawals occur, like shortness of temper, demands on time and work priorities, abruptness with courtesies, anger mismanaged, and all the roughshod treatment we dish out liberally in a day, the unconditional deposits we have banked allow us to save the relationship from destruction.
|From LifeTrainingOnline.com(Slightly condensed)
When it comes to improving and maintaining our relationships with others, Stephen Coveys metaphor of the Emotional Bank Account is probably one of the most powerful ideas ever created for the development of interpersonal relationships. If youve never heard of this, it basically means that anyone with whom we have a relationship with, whether it be our coworkers, family or friends, we maintain a personal emotional bank account with them. This account begins on a neutral balance. And just as with any bank account, we can make deposits and withdrawals. However, instead of dealing with units of monetary value, we deal with emotional units.
The emotional units that Covey speaks of are centered around trust. When we make emotional deposits into someones bank account, their fondness, trust, and confidence in us grows. And as a result our relationship develops and grows. If we can keep a positive reserve in our relationships, by making regular deposits, there will be greater tolerance for our mistakes and well enjoy open communication with that person. On the contrary, when we make withdrawals and our balance becomes low or even overdrawn, bitterness, mistrust and discord develops. If we are to salvage the relationship, we must make a conscious effort to make regular deposits.
This post will discuss Coveys six major ways of making deposits into these Emotional Bank Accounts and how we can avoid making withdrawals.
1. Understanding the Individual
In Coveys book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, one of the seven habits is Seek first to understand then to be understood. Truly understanding what others are feeling is not always that easy. We must remove ourselves from our egocentric viewpoint and put ourselves into the minds and shoes of others. I say minds and shoes because we must try to first understand the thought patterns and second walk in their shoes or empathize with them.
Truly understanding someone requires us to wholly and completely concentrate on what the other person is trying to say, not reloading, just waiting to fire off your response
2. Keeping Commitments
Certainly when we break our promises to others, we make major withdrawals from their Emotional Bank Accounts.
3. Clarifying Expectations
There is nothing more frustrating in a relationship than not understanding what is expected of you. Although many of us wish we could be, we are not mind readers.
And because each of us sees life differently and has different backgrounds and life experiences, expecting someone to just know is not only unfair but completely unrealistic. Its important that the person with whom you are dealing with, knows exactly what is expected of them. Doing this will keep them out of the dark and allow them to relate you confidently, knowing that what they are doing is in line with your expectations.
4. Attending to the Little Things
Little courtesies, kind words and warm smiles are at the heart of the little things that brighten up a relationship. It shows recognition and an awareness of others. Its interesting, but within our relationships, if you want success, its the little things that really become the big things.
5. Showing Personal Integrity
Nothing is probably more damaging to a relationship, then a lack of integrity. Being that the Emotional Bank Account is based upon trust, you could essentially be doing all of the previous things, but without trust, it is to no avail. Integrity means wholeness, completeness, or soundness. In this case soundness of moral character. Integrity is the rock-solid foundation upon which all successful relationships are built.
6. Apologizing Sincerely When We Make a Withdrawal
Granted, we are all mortal. We make mistakes. Thats part of life and learning. Knowing when you are wrong and admitting your mistakes prevents the wounds that youve caused in others from festering and allows them to heal. When appropriate, sincere apology will keep your relationships accounts in the positive, allowing you to maintain the balance that has been created in your application of all of the previous steps.