Take Stock of Your Emotional Bank Accounts

March 9, 2018 Todd Davis

You probably pay attention to your financial bank accounts—the deposits and withdrawals, the interest and maybe even the occasional penalty—but are you at risk of being overdrawn, or even bankrupt, in any of your emotional bank accounts?

When it comes to our relationships, we engage in similar kinds of transactions—making deposits or withdrawals in what we, at FranklinCovey, call the Emotional Bank Account (EBA). When the EBA balance is high, so is the resulting level of trust. When the balance is low, trust plummets and relationships suffer. While there are similarities between a traditional bank account and an Emotional Bank Account, there are a few key differences:

  1. The goal of the EBA is only to make deposits and build trust with others. Never accumulate a high emotional balance in order to make planned withdrawals later.
  2. EBA’s don’t allow for automated deposits. Unlike your regular bank account, you can’t sign up for recurring direct deposits. EBA deposits require you to walk up to the “teller,” as it were, and make the deposit in person. The more consistently you make deposits, the greater your level of trust will be in any relationship.   
  3. High trust, good will, full engagement, and rich relationships are the ultimate outcome of the EBA, not high monetary yields or robust interest accruals.
  4. Financial counterfeits are illegal; emotional counterfeits are unethical and destructive. While we may not go to jail for emotional counterfeits, we will pay a price for contrived compliments, fake apologies, overly-extravagant gifts—or gestures we deem as deposits but really aren’t in the eyes of the receiver.

To start building strong Emotional Bank Accounts, try this:

  1. Think of someone important to you.
  2. Ask them to share a few deposits you could make, things that are important to them and that would increase their trust in you and the relationship (i.e. writing them a note of appreciation, taking them to lunch, mentoring them, giving them helpful feedback, listening to them, etc.).
  3. Schedule time to make at least one deposit each week for the next month.
  4. At the end of the month, ask the person how the deposits affected the trust level.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4.

For an advanced EBA practice, try this:

  1. Think of someone important to you (or the same person you identified above.)
  2. Write down three things you have done that may have been unintentional withdrawals.
  3. Share with this person how you will make amends and how you will avoid these withdrawals in the future, then follow through.


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About the Author

Todd Davis

Todd Davis has over 30 years of experience in human resources, training and training development, executive recruiting, sales, and marketing. Todd is currently a member of the FranklinCovey Executive Team where he serves as the Chief People Officer. He is also a bestselling author with two books to his credit, Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work and Talent Unleashed: 3 Leadership Conversations for Tapping the Unlimited Potential of People.

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