I believe strongly in the emotional bank account.
Stephen Covey (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) uses the metaphor of Emotional Bank Account to describe “the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship” (p. 188).
Covey describes 6 ways to make a deposit:
– Understanding the individual;
– Attending to little things;
– Keeping commitments;
– Clarifying expectations;
– Showing personal integrity; and
– Apologizing sincerely when you make a “withdrawal”
When I first started teaching I had the honor of working with Dr. Rita Brodnax who exposed me to researchers and learning that became part of who I am at the core of being a teacher. One of the workshops she brought to the corporation was Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
The concept stuck with me and connects to all the relationships – students and adults. The emotional bank account works like a checking account. You make deposits and you make withdrawals.
Deposits are the things that are listed above. Withdrawals are when you hurt someone’s feelings, forget an appointment, don’t answer, break a confidence, don’t keep your word, lie, etc
If you have a relationship built with someone over a year and most of the interactions are deposits then you are in the black even if the other person hurts you in a minor way. Your relationship is ok.
If you haven’t known the person long and there hasn’t been many depsostis, then a few withdrawals can deplete the account quickly. A large betrayal could deplete the account all together.
Then you have to decide if you are going to close the account and therefore the relationship. Overdrafting your emotional bank account suffers penalities.
This works in marriage. My husband has a simple explanation of a happy marriage: You take care of my needs , I take care of your needs. Simple to say, not always simple to deploy.
It works in a classroom. The classroom culture is a relationship. You have to give and take for it to work. There is the relationship between you and your students and there are the relationships between the students themselves. As the teacher, we often have to manage both to a certain extent.
Deposits are important and can as simple as knowing everyone’s names. My goal is always to make more deposits than withdrawals!