I read a thought provoking article this month about thanks and gratitude in work places in America. It got me thinking about the roots of emotional intelligence and Stephen Covey’s Emotional Bank Account model. Its seems interesting to me that so many people are aware of the negative impacts that their parents and/or their upbringing had on them as a child and although most strive to increase their self awareness and their choices so patterns don’t repeat, it feels as though that effort is mainly concentrated within family and intimate relationship scenarios. How much awareness do we have when it comes to where we spend the rest of our lives – at work?
Stephen Covey’s Emotional Bank Account Model is used primarily for family and ‘significant’ relationships. I’m not sure why the relationship with people you spend at least 8 hours a day with 5 days a week would not be considered ‘significant’. So to that end I would like to propose that we have an emotional bank account with everyone we come into contact with.
Let me explain. Just as you can make deposits and withdrawals from your traditional bank account with money, deposits and withdrawals can be made from your emotional bank account. And, just as the balance of your monetary bank account affects how financially safe or insecure you feel, the balance in your emotional account affects how safe or insecure you feel within relationships. The emotional units that are used in Covey’s bank are based on TRUST. Your bank account with any relationship can either be in the positive or can be overdrawn.
The theory goes that for every 1 deposit made into the account, we experience 8-15 negatives or withdrawals. A silence can be easily interpreted as a withdrawal – so not saying thank you or expressing gratitude without authenticity is just as negative as saying something damning.
Actions which can cause withdrawals include discourtesy, disrespect, overreacting and betrayal, including of course the biggies like bullying and abuse. When our balance is low or overdrawn, bitterness, mistrust and discord develops. Sound like any work place you have been a part of?
Covey sites 6 major deposits. They are:
1.Understanding the individual might include understanding of the pressures that your boss is getting from their boss and landing on you. Try walking in their shoes. What you perceive as a deposit might be perceived entirely differently by them. In a work relationship I experienced I received really positive accolades about a report I had submitted to a government department. I relayed this to my boss, who said that – “oh you know that department; they probably didn’t even read it!” It did not occur to them that their response would be a withdrawal for me – they were bagging the department – or so they thought. But that was not the affect the comment had on me.
2. Attending to the little things might include saying thank you or making the coffee and remembering how your work mates like it; smiling, saying good morning and goodbye. Taking time out to ask about how someone is. Being attentive and alert to others.
3. Keeping commitments might mean being on time for meetings, ensuring meetings go only for as long as the agenda indicated, delivering on that project on time and on budget. Knowing that you can trust yourself to say you will do something, and do it, and that others will trust you the same.
4. Getting clear about expectations is important so there is no room for misunderstandings. Repeat the understanding if needed. Clarify and clarify further.
5. Personal integrity is paramount so that rapport and trust is maintained. It includes being loyal to people who aren’t there – so not shifting blame to someone who is not there to defend themselves.
6. Being big enough to apologise when a withdrawal is made. This goes to realness and authenticity. Making the same withdrawal over and over again and apologising will not be seen as authentic, so this speaks to integrity as well.
The key to all of this is that I can only change myself. The hope is that is if I start to become aware of whether I am making deposits or withdrawals then my actions will assist to build a better and more real relationship. Also once I become more and more self aware of what makes deposits and withdrawals for me I can become more conscious of allowing other peoples actions to impact how I am feeling. I did have a choice about how my boss’s comments impacted me. The adage of “What other people think of me is none of my business” works here. The aim is to build and maintain positive and authentic relationships in every aspect of life. Give it a go and perhaps the thanks and gratitude will be there in spades.