Each one of the many relationships that you have in your life, whether it be family, personal, or professional in nature, are each like a separate checking account at your local bank where you make your deposits and withdrawals. With a financial checking account, you must maintain a positive balance by making deposits and avoid writing checks that exceed the amount that you have in the account. The same holds true with all the relationships in our lives, but instead of money that we deposit into our account, we make what Stephen Covey referred to as “emotional deposits,” into our relationship bank accounts in the form of actions that build trust and deliver value to that person. Like a checking account, we can also make withdrawals from our relationship accounts in the form of taking actions that cause the other person any amount of pain and if we make too many withdrawals from our relationship account, the other person will eventually close our account with them.
The primary focus in this financial analogy is to make as many high-quality emotional deposits into our most important relationship accounts as possible so that we can build value and trust in those accounts. I’ve identified and listed six types of emotional deposits that you can make into your various relationship bank accounts to build value in those accounts so that it becomes a real asset that will benefit your life.
The 6 Emotional Tricks You Can Make Into Your Relationship
Think of all the genuinely nice things that people have done for you from their hearts. Each act of genuine kindness from them serves to add a little bit to their own relationship account with you. Conversely, each act of emotional pain that they give to you acts like a withdrawal from their relationship account with you. Your strongest friends are the ones with the largest relationship accounts over time. Your job is to do the same with all the people that are dear to your heart. Here are the six types of emotional deposits that will help build value in your relationships.
Acts of Empathy
Empathy is the ability to step out of your own perspective and see the world in the way that the other person in your relationship sees it. Some people liken empathy to stepping out of your own shoes and into the shoes of the other person and walking around in them. So often do we get caught up with trying to deliver our own message, that we forget that the key to communication is to first try to understand the other person. That’s where the saying, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood,” comes from. By demonstrating empathy, even if you’re not 100% accurate, you send powerful messages to the other person that you care about their feeling and that you are trying to understand them, which is often more powerful than actually understanding them is.
You can demonstrate empathy by actively listening to the person. Active listening simply means that you listen to the other person for the sole purpose of understanding them, without evaluating, judging or criticizing the merit of their comments. With active listening, you are not trying to give advice. You are not trying to think of what you are going to say next while they are talking. You simply listen and ask directive and open-ended questions that help you better empathize with that person. When the other person gets the feeling that you really understand them, then that’s a huge emotional deposit into their account. If the person does not feel that you are trying to understand them, then that act of non-empathy serves as an emotional withdrawal from their relationship account.
Practical Examples of Empathy
- Actively listening
- Being and showing that you are interested in their life
- Understanding rather than judging, evaluating or criticizing
- Respecting the differences of others
- Looking into the person’s eyes
- Signs of understanding, i.e. head nodding, smiles, verbal acknowledgments
Acts of Genuine Kindness
To build your relationship wealth, you need to deposit acts of kindness into their account. Acts of kindness help reinforce their impression that you care about them and that you are sensitive to their feelings. Bear in mind that you can also make withdrawals from this account by performing acts of unkindness to them. When you hit a negative balance in this account, relationships start to fall apart. Also, realize that your acts of kindness MUST be genuine. That means you can’t have any perceived expectation of direct return for yourself, otherwise, it won’t touch their heart and it won’t get deposited into your relationship account as an emotional deposit and, in some cases, an insincere act of kindness can act as an emotional withdrawal. An example of a genuine act of kindness is remembering a friend’s birthday without them reminding you. An example of an insincere act of kindness is offering a female a drink, with the expectation that she will talk to you.
Practical Examples of Genuine Kindness :
- Making someone else feel important
- Giving a card to someone special
- Remembering an important day for the other person
- Increasing the level of self-esteem in others
- Giving a co-worker a ride home
- Being a gentleman
- Staying later to help with a project
- Helping a friend move into a new home
- Giving a hug to a friend who is sad
Acts of Trust
Trust is the foundation for all superior human relationships and the way trust is built and maintained is when the other person realizes that you are a person who possesses the integrity to keep all the promises that you make—essentially, that you are a person of your word. Likewise, relationships suffer when too many promises, whether or not they are actual or implied promises, are broken one too many times.
Practical Examples of Trust
- Trusting others first
- Being honest
- Doing what you say you will do
- Keeping your promises
- Showing up on time
- Keeping a quality flow of communication to the other person
- Being accountable and responsible for your actions
Acts of Loyalty
Loyalty means that you whole-heartedly support the person in your relationship, regardless of what happens. There is a very powerful saying that goes, “A true friend is one who stands by your side when the rest of the world walks away.” There is no better definition of loyalty than this. Loyalty means that you praise and admire your friend and, most of all, you do it when they’re not present as this is the true sign of genuine loyalty. Talking badly about someone behind their back and being two-faced dissolves loyalty in a relationship. In order for a relationship to be strong, your acts of kindness to that person must be congruent to your loyalty for them.
Practical Examples of Loyalty:
- Remaining faithful to someone that you love
- Saying good things about a person when they are not present
- Standing by your loved one when everyone else walks away
- Self sacrifice
Acts of Unconditional Forgiveness and Genuine Apology
The only way we grow as human beings is by making mistakes and learning from them. There’s a famous quote that goes, “If you’re 99% committed, eventually you’re going to fail. Even in the best relationships, we will make mistakes, however, it’s not the mistakes themselves that break relationships; it’s how we handle those mistakes which play a more important factor. What kills relationships is having too much pride and ego to admit your mistakes or to deny a person unconditional forgiveness when they lower their defenses and offer you a genuine apology for a past mistake.
Practical Examples of Forgiveness
- Taking 100% responsibility for your actions
- Offering a sincere apology for a mistake
- Giving someone a hug even though you are upset at them
- Accepting another person’s apology when they offer it and giving them forgiveness
Relationships are built and maintained through positive, nurturing, and high-quality communication between both people in a relationship. Communication is important to establish roles and expectations between both parties. When people come together from different backgrounds, different genders, different experiences, and different cultures, it’s unreasonable to expect that either one of them will think exactly the same. Communication, however, bridges that gap because, with high-quality communication, the person can paint a detailed picture of their ideas and thoughts for the other person to understand, thereby, serving to bridge that gap of differences between them.
Practical Examples of Communication
- Being willing to talk openly with the other person
- Listening to the other person
- Using direct language, rather than innuendos, sulking, or sarcasm
- Being careful never to ass-u-me things from the other person
- Being willing to express your feelings through communication
- Understanding and Avoiding Emotional Withdrawals
Let’s say that you have $10.00 in your checking account and you write a check for $15.00. The end result? Well, you’re not just $5.00 in the hole because the bank imposes a $35 insufficient funds fee to your account, so now you’re $40.00 in the hole. Over time, these small overdrafts that keep on getting penalized by the bank can end up becoming so large that it exceeds the amount you are able to deposit and this results in the bank closing your account.
The same is true with respect to relationship bank accounts. Small overdrafts in the form of lies, a lack of trust, poor communication, or toxic remarks can degrade that account to the point where there is little or no emotional currency left in that relationship account. When you accumulate an emotional debt that exceeds your ability to cover it with emotional deposits, then the person who you are in a relationship with will have no choice but to close that account with you.
Common Examples of Acts that Serve as Emotional Withdrawals
- Lack of affection
- Lack of spontaneity
Remember That The Relationship Bank Charges Your Account Monthly!
An important point to remember is that your relationship bank charges monthly fees to your account and in this analogy, there are no free-of-charge relationship accounts out there. If you have some emotional currency in your relationship bank account and you neglect it for several months, then the person who you have a relationship with will automatically charge and withdrawal monthly fees from your account as a service fee. If you don’t continue to make emotional deposits into your relationship account, then by default, you will eventually go into an emotional debt with that person and they will close your account just as if you made too many withdrawals.
The basis of all superior human relationships out there is to satisfy personal needs through acts of synergy. Synergy in a relationship is the coming together of two people to achieve more together than any one of them could achieve alone. That synergy requires each person to continue to make emotional deposits on a regular basis with the other person. It’s when those needs go unfulfilled that the foundation of the relationship starts to weaken and eventually if those needs continue to go unfulfilled, that foundation will crumble. Strive to always create synergy in your relationships by making emotional deposits to the people that you love.