We check our finances, our agendas, our “deadlines”, but what about our emotional bank account?
What is an emotional bank account? It is a deposit or withdrawal that is done consciously or not in the “imaginary” account of each person with whom one interacts. Whew! you say, it’s exhausting to do this calculation.
Not really, it just happens naturally. Imagine for a moment you are interviewing for a new job and your future boss is great in the interview = +10. During the first two weeks, everything runs perfectly +20. Your new colleagues ask you how it is going with the boss and you answer, it’s great! Without asking yourself too many questions.
The third week, you feel the impatience of your boss, he gets tense = 0 points. The next week it’s aggression and shouting towards you in the hallway in front of your colleagues = – 50. For a total of -30 after a month (+ 10 + 20 – 50 = -30). This is the emotional bank account.
I am always stunned when I see people who think that I can forget about all the negative aspects of our past and think they can have a rewarding relationship with me overnight. Someone recently told me that the person “abused” forgets slower than the “abuser”. And I realized that it’s true. I used to have a boss who yelled at me in the corridor in front of everyone, who refused my requests for career advancement, etc. His bank account was – 1000 as far as I was concerned and this person could do absolutely nothing to turn his account to black (positive).
Still, he tried … He showered me with compliments, I was the best and he told everyone how he liked me. Total overcompensation! But he has never apologized for his attitude. He never took responsibility for his actions. And if he was like that with me who has a strong personality and was able to climb the ladder in spite of him, imagine what he did to those who were less confident. Perhaps his apology would have reduced the negative balance of his account.
The more a relationship is long and intimate (good or bad), the more it’s difficult to raise or lower the bank account balance. There are people in my personal life who are so in the black that they could do almost anything and they would remain with a positive balance for a long time. There are others whom I do not feel like wasting my time on because they are very much in the negative and have been for so many years.
By the way, these bank accounts are very personal. A -10 for me does not mean -10 for you. All depends on the relationship with the person, who we are and our tolerance.
The first time I read about the emotional bank account was in the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Excellent book. This discovery has allowed me to understand many relationship and put my “emotional” efforts in the right place and with the right people.