Evaluating Your Emotional Bank Accounts - Amber Hurdle | Globally Recognized Leadership & Personal Branding Expert

Evaluating Your Emotional Bank Accounts

September 08, 2015

All Relationships Are Not Created Equal

I’m sure we can all agree that the best relationships we have, whether they are professional, romantic, friendships or otherwise, are usually consistent in their “give and take.”

Meaning, sometimes you give of yourself, your emotions, your resources or your time and other times you need to receive those same things. Only when it is always a balanced give and take can it be considered a great relationship, right?


That philosophy works for relationships like marriages or best friends–relationships that are built on equality and both parties enter the relationship acknowledging that they are committed to a partnership. But what about parent-child, supervisor-employee or service provider-customer relationships?

If we can’t measure the quality of our relationships on equality all of the time, how can we ensure we are engaging in meaningful ways, honoring others and ultimately honoring ourselves? And do we really want to keep score in the relationships that are understood to be equal?

Probably not!

Emotional Bank Accounts

Many years ago I was introduced to the brilliant concept of the emotional bank account. It basically explains that like a financial bank account, you must make more deposits than withdrawals in order to maintain a healthy balance and not bankrupt the relationship.

For example, it would be ridiculous to expect an employee to invest in you and your growth equal to the amount you invest in her. That is not her role in the relationship. However, YOU should continuously make “deposits” in her “bank account” through recognition and encouragement, opportunity and development.

That way when you make an occasional withdrawal to correct behavior, constructively criticize her performance, or simply because you made a mistake, your “balance” will remain healthy and in the green.

But she is also responsible for her “account” with you, her manager. She should put forth her best effort, meet expectations and support your goals through her contributions to the big picture. These are all ways she can make deposits into you in order to warrant trust and recognition. When she keeps that account full it is far less damaging when she makes a minor withdrawal like being late for work or even a more significant miss like a client-facing mistake.

Your Challenge: Review Your Account Ledgers

Your challenge is to consider the relationships that are most important to you. How are your balances in their accounts? Have they adequately funded their accounts with you? Once you have reflected on these I encourage you to consciously budget your resources to ensure you continue to fully “fund” those accounts. Likewise, if others have left their accounts with you in the red you may want to have a budget meetings with them to explain the negative impact of their continuous withdrawals; or you may even consider closing the account altogether.

Share Your Thoughts

What relationships have you found this approach to work best with? When have you had to close an account because it remained in overdraft? Share your experiences with others. And importantly, share this post with your networks or with others whom you think would find it helpful!

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