Now I love quotes and I've seen lots of them attributed to Stephen Covey, but I've never seen this one, and I totally missed it the first time I read this book. Let me share with you the story behind it.
At one of his seminars, a man came up to him and said, "You know, I really don't enjoy coming to these seminars." Probably not the best way to introduce yourself to the guy leading the seminar, right? He went on to tell Dr. Covey that all he could think about was the grilling he was going to get from his wife when they spoke on the phone that night. He explained that every time he was away from her she'd question him about everything he did. How long did the session last? Where did you eat lunch? What did you do afterwards? Who were you with? Basically asking him to account for every minute of the day.
He went on to say that the only thing missing from these interrogations was her asking him who she can speak with to verify everything he's told her. Anticipating this routine made it almost impossible for him to enjoy the experience or get anything meaningful out of these types of workshops. He wanted Dr. Covey to understand how unreasonable his wife was being and wanted some advice on how to deal with it.
Well, Dr. Covey talked to the man for a while and then discovered something interesting. The guy shared with him that he met his wife at a seminar just like this one, while he was married to someone else! Well now, that changes things a little bit, doesn't it? Suddenly, her "unreasonable" behavior makes a little more sense.
Now I have to believe Dr. Covey was at least a little tempted to smack this guy upside the head and wake him up. I wish he would have said, "So you're telling me you left your wife for a woman you met at a seminar and now you're upset because that woman is a little interested in how you're spending your time whenever you leave her to go to a seminar? You're a special kind of clueless aren't you?"
But he didn't say that. He simply told the man, "You can't talk your way out of problems you behave yourself into." This man made a huge withdrawal from the Emotional Bank Account that he shares with his current wife and there is no quick fix for that. As great as Dr. Covey was at helping people be effective in their relationships, you don't have to be an expert to see this guy had dug a huge hole for himself. There was no trust in his marriage and it was all his doing. But instead of focusing on making deposits to build the trust back up, this guy just wanted to know what he could do to get his wife off his back.
Unfortunately, too many of us are in the same situation this guy was in. Maybe we didn't cheat on our spouse, but we have someone in our life that drives us crazy and we can't figure out what to do about it. We want our relationship with them to improve and we're waiting on them to change. We want a quick fix so everything will magically get better.
What we don't want to do is take ownership of the problem and hold ourselves accountable for the state of the relationship. We don't want to look inside ourselves and figure out how we're contributing to the problem. I'm fine, they're the problem. If they would get their act together, we'd get along just fine. Does this sound familiar?
If so, what can YOU do about it? How can YOU improve the relationship? What are some ways you can start making deposits into the Emotional Bank Account? You'll be amazed at how small acts of kindness towards another person can turn around a relationship. I mean little things.
"Hey, how was your weekend?"
"Nice shirt, where did you get that?"
"Great job on that presentation."
"Thanks for taking the trash out."
All of these are deposits. So are sincere apologies. "I'm really embarrassed about how I handled that the other day. I'm truly sorry. It won't happen again."
On the other hand we have withdrawals, things like lying, cheating, spreading gossip, or talking about someone behind their back. Or little comments like, "I'm not going to tell you again to clean your room" or "What is it now" or "I don't have time to deal with that." If you want to improve your relationship with someone, keep making deposits and limit your withdrawals. And keep in mind that one big withdrawal can wipe out the account. Just like with money, it doesn't matter how long you've been putting money into a savings account, once you blow it, you have to start saving all over again.
I hope this quote inspires you to take a good hard look at the relationships in your life and start figuring out what you can do to make them better. You may think some people are never going to change, and you may be right. There are a lot of negative people in the world, but you don't have to return the favor. If you have to deal with these types of people, ask yourself, "What can I do to help this situation?"
The answer lies in making consistent deposits to their Emotional Bank Account without expecting anything in return. If you do this and the situation doesn't improve, re-assess how important the relationship is to you. A one-sided relationship isn't much of a relationship. But if both of you are making constant withdrawals, you're going to end up severely overdrawn and it's going to be really difficult to salvage that relationship.
So make regular deposits and limit your withdrawals and you'll see your Emotional Bank Account start to grow. Just like with money, having a little saved up feels a lot better than being overdrawn.
I'll see you next time, thanks again for reading, now go make an impact!
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Rob is one of the co-founders of IMPACTfull Life. He is the content generator, synthesizer and curator for this blog. He scours the internet for inspirational and motivational information and shares that info with you. You can reach him directly by e-mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. To read the full story click here.
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