Building Relationships

Having strong, positive relationships with others at home and at work can greatly enrich your life, but it’s not always easy to achieve. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey suggests that for relationships to prosper, you must make “deposits” into your “emotional bank account.” If you build up your relationships over time, you will be more likely to receive support and assistance when you need it. You also build up a “reserve” that will lead others to be more accepting of your mistakes.

Covey describes six major types of “deposits” that will help build your accounts and strengthen your relationships with others:

  • Understanding the Individual. Learn what’s important to others in order to know what they would consider a “deposit.
  • Attending to the Little Things. Sometimes what seem to be very minor acts of courtesy (or disrespect) can make a big impact on others.
  • Keeping Commitments. Only make promises you can keep, and keep the ones you make. This habit is essential to building trust.
  • Clarifying Expectations. Don’t leave things unspoken. Whether it’s a job or a marriage, clearly state what you would like from the other person.
  • Showing Personal Integrity. This includes not criticizing people behind their backs and not betraying confidences.
  • Apologizing Sincerely When You Make a “Withdrawal.” If you’re in the wrong, admit it directly without making excuses.

Covey notes that there are no magic words or “quick fixes” to build up or repair a relationship. It’s the steady contributions that you make, day in and day out, that determine whether the relationship will yield the kind of returns you’re seeking.