Monthly Archives: May 2020

The Emotional Bank Account

emotional bank account

In my Fresh Start training last week, we discussed the Emotional Bank Account.

An emotional bank account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that has been built up in a relationship.  It’s the feeling of assurance you have with another person.

As Stephen R Covey describes in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, when you make enough deposits through kindness, courtesy, honesty and keeping commitments, you make deposits in your Emotional Bank Account, and build up a reserve.

When you have made enough deposits and others have established enough trust in you, you can call upon that trust if you need to.

So if and when you things go wrong, or you end up letting someone down – be that a team member, customer or friend – you have a sufficient balance that any withdrawal doesn’t take you ‘over drawn’.

However, if you are unkind, disrespectful, uncaring and mean, you draw from this account.

When the trust is high, communication is easier, quicker and more effective.

If you make enough deposits with others through courtesy, kindness, honesty and keeping your commitments to them, you build up a reserve.

This means that on the odd occasion when things go wrong, or you end up letting someone down – be that a team member, customer or friend – you have a sufficient balance that any withdrawal doesn’t take you ‘over drawn’.

Because others have established enough trust in you, you can call upon that trust if you need to.

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 account.

When the trust is high, communication is easy, instant and effective.

During the Lockdown, if you do nothing it won’t take long to withdraw everything. Your team are no doubt having mixed emotions at the moment: confused, anxious, uncertain, bored, lonely, stressed.

If they are on furlough or working from home, now might be the time when people most need you to make some deposits.

There are six major deposits we can make to the emotional bank account, and how these are relevant right now:

Understanding the individual

One person’s mission is another person’s minutia.  To make a deposit, what is important to another person must be as important to you as the other person is to you.

Recognise that people’s priorities may be a little different right now, so keeping in contact with your team, answering their questions and listening to their concerns is critical right now.

Attending to the seemingly insignificant

Kindnesses and courtesies are so important.  Forms of disrespect make large withdrawals.  In relationships, the things that can seem insignificant to you can count for others.

So, for example if they are on furlough and only getting 80% of their normal pay, that 20% shortfall could make the difference between just getting by, and really struggling to pay the rent or feed the family.

Keeping commitments

Keeping a commitment is a major deposit; breaking one is a major withdrawal.  In fact there’s probably no larger withdrawal than to make a promise that’s important to someone and then not keep that promise. 

If you’ve promised an update by a certain date, make sure you deliver this, even if it’s to say no news.

Clarifying expectations

The cause of many relationship difficulties is often rooted in conflicting or ambiguous expectations around roles and goals.  Unclear expectations will lead to misunderstanding, disappointment and withdrawals of trust.  Many expectations are implicit and the deposit is to make the expectations clear and explicit in the first place.

This takes a real investment of time and effort up front, but saves great amounts of time and effort in the long run.  When expectations are not clear and shared, simple misunderstandings become compounded, turning into personality clashes and communication breakdowns.   It does, however, take courage.

Showing personal integrity

Lack of integrity can undermine almost any other effort to create high trust accounts.  It goes beyond honesty.  Integrity is conforming to the reality of our words – keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.  One way of manifesting integrity is to be loyal to those who are not present.

Confidentiality about others in your team is paramount.

Apologising sincerely when you make a withdrawal

Great deposits come in the sincere words – “I was wrong”, “I showed you no respect”, “I’m sorry”.  It takes a great deal of character strength to apologise.  A person must have a deep sense of security to genuinely apologise.  It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another not to admit it.

Last week we discussed the emotional bank account in the context of establishing trust with your team. However, it is just as relevant in building trust with customers, suppliers or third parties.

Action point

If you only do one thing this week:

Review the 6 types of deposits and identify just one whereby doing more of it (with either your customers or your team) could make a major impact in your emotional bank account.

Related post: How to earn trust

Related video: Do your customers and team feel trusted



Celebrate

Celebrate

You may not feel there is much to celebrate right now if your business is closed. But I believe we can all find small mercies to be grateful for, whether it’s the fine weather we’ve had during most of the lockdown, the convenience of modern technology to keep in touch, or simply having some downtime to spend with the family.

Yesterday I was celebrating with hubby; our 35th wedding anniversary; my brother was 70 on Saturday, and another friend was due to celebrate moving to her new home with a house warming party but had to settle for an online quiz with friends and family. Just because we couldn’t get together didn’t mean we didn’t want to do something to mark the occasions.

I’ve talked in previous emails about the importance of keeping in touch with both customers and team alike, to let them know you’re still thinking of them and care about them during the lockdown.

Marking a special occasion is a perfect way to engage with both customers and team members. Recognising a personal milestone, proud moment or a significant event shows you care.

What can we celebrate?

Thinking beyond birthdays and wedding anniversaries, what else can we celebrate…

The anniversary of….

  • the date each of your team members joined your business
  • the start of your business
  • the start of your customer/client’s business
  • a customer becoming a customer

Proud moments

Although there won’t be many things happening in gaining qualifications or awards there will still be plenty happening in the lives or your team members and customers to warrant celebration

  • The birth of a child or grandchild
  • A significant contribution to charity (it may not be in the same leagues as Captain Tom’s incredible achievement, but any charitable achievements are worthy of acknowledgement)
  • Learning a new skill
  • First anniversaries – look back at the events you help this time last year. What first anniversaries are coming up?

Lastly don’t forget all those postponed events – many of which would have been to celebrate a special occasion. Even if people can’t celebrate with you, the date should still be marked and celebrated in some way.

Celebrations don’t need to be lavish. What’s more important is that they are sincere and relevant to those you are congratulating.

Recognise that some people love the limelight, others hate it. Sometimes a quiet “congratulations and well done” is all that’s needed and will have more impact than any razzmatazz announcement.

And make a note to follow up with something appropriate for when the lockdown is over.

In the meantime, raise that imaginary glass of champagne and drink a toast.

Related Articles:

Lessons in Loyalty  https://www.naturallyloyal.com/2015/05/

Recognising your team (video)