When was the last time saying ‘sorry’ killed you?

This will be a fairly short blog. For those who’ve just jumped on board, welcome and for those who’ve been following a while, hello and hope things are good with you.  This blog is all about change from within i.e. if you want something to change in your life, it’s an inside-out process and you need to make choices which will bring about the change you desire.  I’ve been talking about “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R Covey and so far my blogs have covered Habits 1-3, otherwise known as the ‘Private Victory.’ For more about what this means, please read my previous blogs for a full explanation but I will briefly summarise the concept here for you.

The 7 Habits themselves are a personal and professional development journey.  Covey presents them in the context of a growth in maturity or “maturity continuum”. There are two key stages in the overall process; first comes the “private victory” or self-mastery part where you learn and grow taking yourself from a state of ‘dependence’ to a state of ‘independence.’ In the second stage, known as the “public victory”, you take yourself from independence to a state of ‘inter-dependence’ i.e. you learn how to build trusting relationships with others in order to get consistently better results all the time.  This short blog will look at the transitionary stage between these two phases which Covey calls “The Emotional Bank Account (EBA).”

The EBA is a really neat concept although I have to be honest and say it took me a little while to grasp.  The basic idea is this.  Just like a bank account, you make deposits and withdrawals.  If you work on the premise that most bank accounts are there to provide you with funds which grown and mature, the same analogy could apply to building relationships with other people.  In this sense, I actually started to think of it more like an Emotional ‘Savings’ Account and something into which you invest.  So as not to confuse the issue, I’ll stick with the EBA analogy.

The EBA is a metaphor for the amount of trust that exists in a relationship.  Deposits into the EBA are good things like listening to someone at a time of high emotion, being loyal to someone who is not with you at the time, saying sorry even if you think you’re right, keeping promises…you get the idea.

Withdrawals from the EBA are negative behaviours such as making assumptions about someone or a situation, breaking promises, being disrespectful or rude, being proud and arrogant, taking revenge and holding grudges…you get the picture.

Now, the important thing to understand is that what might be a deposit for someone, could be a withdrawal for someone else.  Suppose you’d arranged to have dinner with your best friend and this is something you’ve been looking forward to for many weeks and at the last minute, you get a text from your friend saying that they’re sorry but they can’t make it (no reasons given at this point).  What would this be for you?  A withdrawal?  Or would you want to know more before you make a decision?  Would you be concerned (potentially a deposit)?  For me, I’m the sort of person who would wonder what was behind it and I’d be concerned that my friend was in trouble.  So I’d probably call to find out what’s up before I decide if I should feel an emotion, whatever that might be.  You may react differently and in different circumstances.

Now think about a relationship, maybe a colleague or loved one, where things might be tense.  When was the last time you stopped to consider things from their point of view, their frame of reference, their ‘paradigm’?

I’ll share a quick story with you which relates to a colleague from a supplier I work with.  He and I just weren’t seeing eye to eye.  He wound me up and I’m sure I did him.  I would often feel that whatever he said he was always out to ‘trip me up’ or ‘get one over’ on me and my organisation.  At times, I thought he was just darn right rude.  I never even stopped to consider why he would behave that way towards me.  Until a colleague pointed out to me how I behaved towards him.  I was (frankly) arrogant and came across as ‘I know best’.  If any of you know anything about Myers Briggs Personality Type profiling I’m an ISFJ which means I naturally tend towards judging others!!!  So no surprise we weren’t getting on then.

To cut a long story short, once I learned about the EBA, I offered to take him to lunch and apologise.  I explained I could see how I was wrong to behave the way I had and could we start again.  He was shocked and I was embarrassed.  He was suspicious at first but was gracious enough to give me the benefit of the doubt and whilst our relationship isn’t perfect by any means now, it’s certainly a lot better than it was.  These things take time, but it is a start.

Covey suggests that for a good EBA you need to make 5 deposits for every 1 withdrawal.  Remember one persons ‘currency’ may be different i.e. what could be a deposit to you might be a withdrawal to another.  Finally, remember that small deposits over a period of time make up large bank balances or ‘tidy savings’!

So when you go home tonight and see or talk to someone you care about or with whom you wish to build a relationship, make a deposit or two and watch what happens!

In the next blog, we’ll start looking at the ‘public victory’ and Habit 4 which is called ‘Think win-win’.

Take care.



About simonsimplese16

All round good guy, agent of change, here to do the right thing, bring peace and happiness to everyone I meet and have a laugh whilst I'm at it.
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