Emotional Banking

Emotional banking

Investing in relationships to maintain a healthy bank balance

In order to maintain healthy relationships with those around us, it’s useful to understand the concept of ‘Emotional Banking’. Essentially, you have an ‘emotional bank account’ with your friends and family members, which you’re investing in over time. When you give love, validation and reassurance you add credits to the account balance but a negative interaction can create feelings of anger, resentment and grudges, which serve as debits, depleting the balance and threatening to send your account ‘into the red’.

Keep an eye on the overall balance

Over the course of a friendship, it’s natural that there’ll be both credits and debits to the ‘emotional bank account’ but overall the balance should stay in the black in order for the relationship to be healthy and survive long-term. Deplete the bank account too much and too often and you might find yourself with a low credit rating and regarded as an unhealthy investment.

For example, you might be going through a tough time and need a friend to lean on. Naturally the conversation is going to focus on your problem but if every time you meet up all you talk about is yourself and your problems then pretty quickly your friend is going to feel that you don’t care about them and stop wanting to meet up with you. We all want to be noticed and invested in – indirectly not asking about someone reads as a silent ‘I don’t care about you’.

Make sure there are more credits than debits

Relationships aren’t always plain sailing and there’ll be times when things are said and feelings are hurt but aim for a 3:1 ratio of credits to debits – research by Frederickson* shows that if your relationship consists of 3 times as many positive interactions it creates a positive tipping point, which means a negative experience is viewed more positively and the value of the debit is less.
Make sure to invest in your emotional bank

Invest positively in your relationships. Be mindful of the impact of your interactions with other people and keep an eye on the amount you’re withdrawing from your account. For long-term health and a bank balance that’s in the black focus on being a good friend that encourages, supports and recognizes the other person. If both parties invest heavily and often into the emotional bank account it’ll pay dividends!

*B Frederickson ‘Positivity’ 2009

This post was written by Daniel Hollams, read is interview here