The EBA: Withdrawals and Deposits

A few years ago, one of my mentors introduced me to a principle to help me in developing more positive relationships. It is called the EBA (Emotional Bank Account). The EBA defines how a person feels about you. People’s feelings usually drive their relationships more than their intellect or sworn commitment.

Here are the facts of the EBA:

1. You open an EBA with each person you are in relationship to.
When people think of you, they either have a positive feeling or a negative feeling. Do you want people to have a positive feeling or a negative feeling towards you? It is difficult to deepen relationships with someone who has a negative bent towards you. I don’t want to go deeper with people that I don’t like. It is as simple as that. If you want deeper, more positive relationships, you will remember that you have an open EBA with each person you are in relationship to.

2. You are making deposits or withdrawals with each encounter, or lack of encounter.
I think this is the part most people forget about the most. When you make a deposit, it is usually intentional. You have intentionally chosen to spend time with someone, encourage them, write them a note, take them to lunch, or send them a text to brighten their life. Each deposit builds the positive nature of the relationship.
Withdrawals on the other hand happen often without us being aware that we made a withdrawal. Overlooking key friendships for a long period of time is a withdrawal. You’re not thinking of it as that. But that person may wonder why you forgot about them. They will have a more difficult time trusting you in the future. If you don’t return a text or a call, that works as a withdrawal. (I do my best to return all calls and texts within 24 hours. With my inner circle, I respond as quickly as my life allows. Usually, that is a maximum of one or two hours. Other forms of communication I’m often slower with, but those are generally less important or urgent.) If you criticize someone, that will likely be a withdrawal. If someone founds out from someone else that you criticized them, it is a greater withdrawal. Here’s the strange thing about deposits and withdrawals.
The interest rates are low on a deposit, but withdrawals work with compound interest. Someone said you need to hear ten positives for every negative, because the negatives impact our hearts so strongly.

3. The status of your EBA determines the type of relationship you have with them, and the type of relationship you will have with them in the future.
People often have short emotional attention spans. If you make consecutive withdrawals over a weeks time without deposits to match, you are likely going to run into the negative with them. One of the key things to remember is the point of the EBA is to develop positive relationships. It is a way to check on the current situation and to ask questions like, “When was the last time I added value to a person?”, “When was the last time I took the time to do something they enjoy doing?”, “When was the last time I told them a few of the things they do I appreciate, or a few of the gifts they have to share with the world?”, or “When was the last time I let them know how important they are to me?”

4. If you let your EBA drift too far into the negative with most of your relationships, you will end up bankrupt relationally.
This one serves as a warning to being lazy about relationships. If you let your relationships go bankrupt, the price you will pay is loneliness. You will then be left with the bitter aftertaste of regret.

You get to choose what kind of person you will be in your relationships. A giver or a taker. An influencer or a bystander. The power of friendship is found through acts of love.

Do you have someone that you need to make a deposit to? Is there someone you’ve made too many withdrawals from? What will you do about that today?


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