A few years ago, I facilitated the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People workshop. One of the things from the workshop that has stuck with me over the years is this concept of the Emotional Bank Account, which is a metaphor for trust. The more deposits you make into the Emotional Bank Account of others, the more trust you build up with them. At the foundation of all relationships is trust. If you don’t have trust, then what do you have?
As a leader, your credibility is built on trust. If I trust you I find you credible. If I don’t or can’t trust you, you have little or no credibility as a leader. So how do you build trust? How do you build up the Emotional Bank Account with others? Following are a few things you can do to establish and build trust:
- Keep promises
- Honor expectations
- Don’t talk about someone behind their back
- Be courteous
- Follow-through on an important assignment
No one expects you to be perfect, but they do expect you to live up to your commitments. And if for some reason you are not able to keep a commitment, be honest with them up front.
Unlike a real bank account, one doesn’t make a deposit into someone else’s Emotional Bank Account in order to make a withdrawal at some point in the future. Every time you fail to keep a commitment or don’t do any of the things listed above, you are taking a withdrawal from someone’s Emotional Bank Account. If the trust level is high enough with them, taking that withdrawal will NOT damage the relationship. However, if you have failed to make deposits into their Emotional Bank Account, you could damage the relationship beyond repair. And if you do that, you are seen as untrustworthy and lose credibility.