Easing Others into Emotional Bankruptcy

Posted on February 6, 2012


There’s an art to managing relationships and confrontation. In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey talks about an emotional bank account requiring us to make deposits with people before we can make withdrawals.

This section of the book has always meant a lot to me because it was the part of the book I randomly opened and read before placing it on my shelf fifteen years ago.

I think of the emotional bank account when I have to be confrontational and make an emotional withdrawal from someone, and that’s why I always start with a positive deposit so the two transactions will balance each other out and hopefully prevent any violence or legal action. Examples:

Breaking up with someone:

“I’ll always remember how beautiful you looked in the moonlight as I handed you this restraining order.”

Asking a friend to return money he borrowed:

“You know what, Todd? You must be the most talented and charismatic cheapskate I’ve ever known.”

Firing someone:

“You’re so personable and easy to get along with. Everyone agrees if we had the budget to keep just one lazy person, it would be you.”

Kicking someone out of clown college:

“You must be the most energetic and dedicated clown to ever start a bouncy castle full of kids on fire.”

Can you believe Google contained no pictures of bouncy castles on fire?

Pushing over pushovers:

“I bet that warm, friendly smile of yours always opens a lot of doors for you, and that’s why I don’t worry about you finding another taxi after I steal this one.”

Giving a bad medical diagnosis:

“I can tell you take care of yourself and are in really great shape. I bet you’ll recuperate in no time after I steal your kidney.”

Note: If the tables are ever turned, my emotional bank account does assess a hefty transaction fee per withdrawal.

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