How Full Are Your Emotional Bank Accounts?

Today is Friday, so this post is on interpersonal competence.

I first became aware of the concept of an emotional bank account about 20 years ago when I read Stephen Covey’s great book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Interpersonally competent people make regular deposits in the emotional bank accounts they have with all of the people in their lives.

This week, two major league baseball teams made deposits into the emotional bank accounts they have with some of the people in their lives. 

The New York Yankees traveled from Florida to Virginia to play an exhibition game against the Virginia Tech baseball team.  They did this to support the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund that was created to cover grief counseling, memorials and other costs for the victims and their families after Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people in two campus buildings before committing suicide.

I’m not a Yankee fan, but I’ll remember this game the next time George Steinbrenner does something stupid that ends up in the press.  The emotional bank account I have with the Yankees got a major deposit the other day.

On Wednesday, the Boston Red Sox players made a major deposit into the emotional bank account they have with their coaches.  Boston and Oakland are scheduled to open the major league season with two games in Japan.  The players were to receive a $40,000 appearance fee for traveling all that distance to play these games.

On Tuesday, the Red Sox players learned that their coaching staff was not to be given the additional compensation that they and their manager, Terry Fancona will receive for the 12 day trip to Japan.  Coaches make a lot less money than the players.  The players voted to boycott the trip, even though it meant that they would be docked two games pay from their salaries and that they would forfeit the two regular season games they were to play in Japan.

Major League Baseball caved in and put together a deal that ensures the coaches will receive the extra compensation.  This gesture on the part of the players was a significant deposit into the emotional bank accounts they all have with their coaches.  It was also great for team morale and unity.

Most of us don’t get to make such grand gestures.  However, we can choose to make regular deposits into the emotional bank accounts we have with the people in our lives.  There are six ways you can make deposits into the emotional bank accounts you have with people important to you.

1) Make a sincere effort to understand other people.  Figure out what’s important to all of the key people in your life.  Make what’s important to them, important to you. 

2) Pay attention to the little things; because little things are big things in relationships.

3) Keep your commitments.  Every time you do what you say you’ll do, you’ll be making an emotional bank account deposit.  Every time you fail to keep your word, you’ll be making a withdrawal.

4) Be clear on what you want and expect from another person.  When you’re clear on what you want, it makes it easier for others to give it to you.  When you take the time to gain clarity on what others want, it’s easier for you to keep your commitments.

5) Be honest.  Make sure your words and actions are congruent.  Remember what Mark Twain has to say.  “Always tell the truth.  That way you don’t have to remember anything.”

6) Apologize when you make a withdrawal.  Often, a sincere apology will be enough of an emotional bank account deposit to offset the withdrawal you made.  However, this works only for the occasional withdrawal.  You can’t continually break your word or miss your commitments and think that an apology will keep your emotional bank account full.

The common sense point here is simple.  Interpersonally competent people make regular deposits to the emotional bank accounts they have with all of the important people in their lives.  They keep their balance high, because they don’t want to be overdrawn when they make the occasional withdrawal.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense. 

I’ll see you around the web and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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