Each person can be considered as an emotional bank. In every person, you have an Emotional Bank Account with them. In a financial bank account, the more accounts you have and the more money you deposit, the higher the interest you earn and the bigger the amount you can withdraw. Emotional banks can be viewed the same way. Instead of money, you deposit goodwill – kindness, honesty, courtesy, and integrity to people. The more goodwill you deposit to a person, the larger the goodwill you can withdraw from the person. When you have deposited a substantial amount of goodwill to a person, the person becomes more comfortable with you, more willing to extend help to you, gives more trust to you, and more tolerant to your mistakes. You become more Lykeeble to the person.
Depositing goodwill can be applied to any person, whether in the workplace, to your spouse, children, parent, or even to strangers. Some people need to be constantly deposited with goodwill, like people who you are in constant contact with. Your spouse, for example, should be given regular goodwill in order to keep the marriage alive and strong. If you continuously give goodwill to your spouse, small errors on your side can be easily forgiven. Committing error continuously, on the other hand, is like constantly withdrawing from your Emotional Bank Account with your wife. There will come a time when your account will be overdrawn, and you will have a negative account. When this happens, small errors on your side will cause big fights and your spouse’s trust level on you is very low. Tolerance from your spouse is null, and may even be negative. You may be doing nothing wrong but your spouse will still find faults.
The following are six major goodwill deposits that build up your Emotional Bank Account. It is based on Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”
1.) Understanding the Individual
Not all good intentions will be interpreted by the person as a goodwill deposit. We may have the best intentions in the world towards a person, but the person may not see it as goodwill. We have to understand the needs and wants of a person in order to make a proper goodwill deposit.
Consider a father who prepares everything for his son to attend an Ivy League school – finances, support, talking to the right contacts, and mentoring the son to get the best grades. The father may see it as a goodwill deposit to his son, but what if the son does not want to enrol in an Ivy League school? The son might see it as forcing what his father wants for him, and not a goodwill deposit. This situation is actually a bank withdrawal from the father’s Emotional Bank Account with his son.
If the father took the time to understand, to have a deep conversation with his son, then maybe, they could work something out. The father may not necessarily get what he wants for his son – to be enrolled in an Ivy League school, but it will be a huge goodwill deposit to his son if he have listened and understand things with his son’s perspective. Forcing someone to do something is not the way to convince someone to do it. If the father forced the son to enrol in an Ivy League school, expect that the son will not do well in his studies. According to Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the only way to make a person do something is to make the person want to do it. You cannot force someone to do something, or it might have undesirable repercussions.
2.) Attending to the Little Things
Pay attention to the little things you show or do to other people. A small, genuine compliment may mean little to the giver, but if it is genuine, the receiver could remember it for a long time. It will soften even the toughest heart, if you strike with a compliment to what the receiver regards as important. Theodore Roosevelt said, “The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most.” Now, imagine if you talk about things that a person treasures, and give genuine compliments to it. It can be considered as a goodwill deposit to your Emotional Bank Account with the person.
On the other hand, do not ignore the little things other people do or say. Take notice if a person is doing something for you or trying to impress you. Ignoring the person makes them feel unimportant to you. Giving heartfelt thanks is not that hard, and could be remembered by the person for the rest of his life. If possible, reciprocate what the other person did for you with more than thanks, but never forget to give a heartfelt thank you. Thanking and appreciating can also be considered as a goodwill deposit, and ignoring little things as withdrawals.
3.) Keeping Commitments
This is a no-brainer. Keeping promises and delivering is a major goodwill deposit to your Emotional Bank Account with a person. When you consistently deliver on your promise, the person’s confidence and trust in you grows each time. You keep depositing to your Emotional Bank Account with the person, whether the person is your boss, spouse, or child.
Breaking commitments, on the other hand, is a major withdrawal from the emotional bank. Breaking an important promise could mean the closure of your Emotional Bank Account with the person. Minor promises, on the other hand, can be considered as minor withdrawals, and if you have built an ample amount of goodwill deposit, the person may forgive you and let it pass. But you have to deposit more goodwill in the future to replace the withdrawal.
4.) Clarifying Expectations
Clarifying expectations may be closely related to the previous major deposit, Keeping Commitments. When you promise something, the expectation is for you to deliver on the promise. Unclear promises/expectations may lead to conflict. You and the other person should clarify what is expected of each other.
Many people assume that the expectations they have is the same as the other person’s. Each person has their own standards, but you cannot force your standards on others. In a marriage, for example, the couple usually never talks about what they expect from their partner before marrying. The wife might be expecting that there will be no more late night drinks for her husband. The husband, on the other hand, might be expecting that he can still go to late night drinks, but no more flirting with other ladies. This will most probably lead to arguments. If the couple, however, let all their expectations out on the table at the beginning, there will be no arguments regarding this situation.
Clarifying expectations may consume some time and may be an inconvenience, but it is a goodwill deposit on your Emotional Bank Account with the other person, and may prevent future disasters.
5.) Showing Personal Integrity
You may be keeping commitments, clarifying expectations, and you may be trying to understand the person, but are you sincere in doing so? If your intention in doing the acts are superficial, you may be depositing to your Emotional Bank Account with people in the short term. But, you withdraw every deposit you made as soon as the insincerity is discovered. The trust factor disappears once the lies are uncovered.
Integrity means you walk the talk. Claiming that people can trust you while bad-mouthing someone is showing lack of integrity. If you can bad-mouth someone not present, what happens when we have a falling out? I assume you will do the same to me – reveal secrets I have entrusted with you, criticize my flaws, and denigrate me behind my back.
On the other hand, speaking fairly of somebody not present deposits goodwill to your Emotional Bank Account with the person you talk to, and to the person absent. It shows your integrity to the person you are talking to. You show trustworthiness.
6.) Apologizing Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawal
Only people with mental strength can apologize quickly and sincerely, while insecure people resort to finger-pointing and blaming others. If you make a goodwill withdrawal – by being disrespectful, committing a mistake, or embarrassing a person – apologize quickly and sincerely. While it may not replenish the full goodwill that you have withdrawn from your Emotional Bank Account with the person, it may at least recover some of the withdrawal and redeposit some of the goodwill. Making a mistake is forgivable, but standing by the mistake is foolishness.
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