The Emotional Bank Account


Everyone reading this will most likely have a bank account. We all know the basics about how a bank account works. We can make deposits or withdrawals, and as long as the value of the withdrawals don’t exceed the value of the deposits, we will have a positive balance. In order for the balance to increase over time, we need to ensure that the value of the deposits exceed the value of the withdrawals.

As personal trainers we help people with various aspects of their health and fitness, but ultimately, we’re in the relationship business. People entrust their most valuable asset to us, their health, and this requires an enormous amount of trust. Relationships are built on trust, so without trust, there is no relationship.

This begs the question; how do we build trust?

Fortunately, with over 20 years of experience as personal trainers and a long list of long-term clients, some of which have been with us for over 10 years now, we know a thing or two about building trust.

The Emotional Bank Account

Just like we have a bank account for our money, so too do we have an emotional bank account for every single one of our relationships.

The exact same principle applies in that the value of the deposits needs to exceed the value of the withdrawals, but for the sake of this post and simplicity, we’re going to say that each deposit and withdrawal for the emotional bank account is equal to 1.

In order to build trust, we need to make more deposits than withdrawals, thus giving us a positive balance, and a fruitful relationship.

Probably the most powerful way to make deposits is to live life with integrity. The best definition of integrity that we’ve heard so far is, ‘Doing the right thing, regardless. Regardless of who’s around, who might be watching, or how hard that situation may be.

Let’s use a personal trainer as an example. During a session whilst a client is performing an exercise, the personal trainer is sitting down, sipping a coffee in one hand and intermittently checking their mobile phone in the other. That’s a withdrawal from the relationship, they’re not giving the client their full attention, and certainly not acting in accordance with the expectations of a personal trainer during a session.

Sticking with the personal trainer as an example. During a session whilst a client is performing an exercise, the personal trainer is standing next to the client constantly communicating with them. They’re asking the client to rate their perceived rate of exertion, and giving them cues for better form. They notice that the client is breaking a sweat so they get their sweat towel ready. As soon as the client is finished with the exercise, they hand them the sweat towel and open their bottle of water for them. That’s a deposit into the relationship. The client is being given their full attention; they’re ensuring that the exercise is being performed in a safe and effective manner; they’ve seen an opportunity to help the client and they’ve taken action. They’ve acted in accordance with the expectations set forth in the agreement, thus building trust.

Two very simple examples, but you get the point.

Examples of deposits:

1) Celebrating life events such as wedding anniversaries, births of children etc.

2) Supporting people e.g. being at a competition that they entered

3) Standing up for people

Examples of withdrawals:

1) Breaking promises

2) Cutting people off while they’re talking

3) Gossiping

We all have many relationships of varying importance. Some relationships naturally warrant more importance than others. For example, the relationship between a parent and a child is obviously more important than that of someone and their local butcher. But the principle still holds true, we can make deposits and withdrawals in all relationships.

Thinking about relationships in this way can really be transformative. Nobody likes to point the finger at themselves, but a simple question we could ask ourselves about all the important relationships in our lives is, am I making more deposits than withdrawals in this relationship?

We’re certain you would agree that a world in which we’re all making more deposits than withdrawals into our emotional bank accounts would be a better world.

We hope you found this information valuable. If you know of anyone who you feel would benefit from this post, please do share it with them. If you have any burning questions simply hit reply or contact us here.

2 responses to “The Emotional Bank Account”

  1. Mj Zuurbier says:

    How lovely Gerard! So very very nice to see you bringing your lovely self to your clients and at the same time doing some gentle nudging about bettering ourselves in EVERY way. No change there then!! Marie- Jose x

  2. Gerrard says:

    Hi Marie! So good to hear from you! Glad you like the article, GF Fitness would not be where it is today if it wasn’t for the trust and relationships that have been nurtured over time. Hope all is well with you. Stay safe, Gerrard

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