What an “emotional bank account” can teach you about your real bank account

How can an emotional bank account help your real bank account?

15 March 2016: An emotional bank account is a metaphor created by author and motivational speaker Stephen Covey that describes the level of trust that’s been established in a relationship. An emotional bank account is the feeling of being in a safe and trusting relationship with another person.

Just like a financial bank account, this account has two sides to it: the deposit and the withdrawal side. The quality of your relationship is dependent on which side you invest more time into. There are six primary ways of making deposits into these emotional bank accounts – and we’ll show you how you can apply these to your real bank account.

(1) Understand your partner

Understanding people may not always be easy, but remember it’s always better to understand people first then seek to be understood. Getting out of the egocentric attitude will enable you to understand people more effectively so you can empathise with them.

When you begin to understand and empathise with people, this is known as making a deposit into the emotional bank account. By making a deposit, you’re creating a reserve and building trust with your partner. If you can learn to understand people, you’ll be able to understand how your real bank works. Understanding all the components of your real bank account will further your banking success.

(2) Keeping commitments

If and when you break your commitments to your partner, it can break the trust that’s built up in the relationship. These are major withdrawals from the emotional bank account. Keeping commitments doesn’t just mean don’t break your promises; it also means doing everything you’ve committed to such as work, fulfilling your duties and other habits.

When you make a withdrawal from this account, you will go into a stage called overdrawn. Trust in your relationship will decrease because you’ve demonstrated that you don't keep your commitments. If you learn to keep your commitments, you will become better at sticking to a commitment. For example, if you want to increase your savings you need to commit to it. So if you become adept at keeping your commitments, you’ll be on track to boosting your savings.

(3) Clarifying expectations

Most people would agree that nothing is more frustrating in a relationship when there’s miscommunication. Remember that you and your partner are not mind readers. Everyone sees life in a different way, so you can’t expect everyone to have the same perspective as you - that’s just unrealistic.

It’s important to let the person you’re dealing with know what you expect from them. Doing this will keep them out of the dark and allow them to relate to you confidently.

This is a very important for your real bank account too. Clarify what you expect to receive from your bank account when you open it. Make sure you compare the features and ask.

(4) Attending to the little things

The very fabric of the universe is held together by extremely small particles. The same way a little bit of glue can hold together two large objects, the small things hold a relationship together. Being attentive to the details will make your relationship a lot better. Smiling and giving some kind words will always help your situation out. It’s these little things that will brighten your relationship. It shows recognition and awareness of others.

Paying attention to detail is very important when it comes to your real bank account. Interest rates, fees and ongoing costs of your account can all be written in small print. Your bank may not advertise the fact it will drop the interest rate of your account after four months. So it certainly is wise to read the fine print and check the little details to make sure you’re getting what you want.

(5) Showing personal integrity

Integrity means wholeness, completeness or soundness. Without integrity in your relationship, your emotional bank account is sure to be on the fritz. If you do all the previously mentioned things but fail to have integrity, you would have wasted your time. Integrity will not only help you out with your emotional bank account but your real one too.

Having a trustworthy bond between yourself and your financial institution is key. Make sure you have a regular and transparent flow of information so both parties know what’s going on and if by some chance something seems wrong, the transparency will help you to sort it out immediately.

(6) Apologise sincerely when you make a withdrawal

We all make mistakes. Don’t worry about that, it happens – we are all human. However, it’s what we can learn when we make mistakes. Apologising takes a lot of guts and humility. Admitting you were wrong can be difficult, but you’ll mend more bridges than burning them if you learn to apologise. A sincere apology is always appreciated. It will help you keep your relationship alive.

We're not saying you have to apologise to your bank. But apologise to yourself if you slip up on your savings plan, and make a commitment to do better next month.

Picture: Shutterstock

Jacob Joseph

Jacob is a writer and video journalist with finder.com.au. Credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts are his bread and butter, and he likes nothing more helping people understand the sometimes overly complex world of personal finance.

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