bisccit - the emotional bankaccount

The Emotional Bank Account

People often do not think about Conflict Management (Mediation) until it is too late. Only when the angry e-mails fly back and forth and threats of violence, divorce or dismissal are made, do people come up with the idea of trying to resolve the conflict or bring in a mediator. That is a pity, of course, because it is best to address conflicts as early as possible. It is even better to understand how conflicts arise and see if you can avoid them. Prevention is simply better than cure!

There is a technique that is very useful: The Emotional Bank Account. (EB) The “balance” of their mutual EB determines how two people deal with a conflict. How does it work? Just like with a regular bank account, in a relationship you can only make a withdrawal if you have previously deposited something. This applies to any relationship: not only with a partner, but also in a friendship, with your family or at work! A positive balance takes time and effort to build up. Unfortunately, people who have been working together or living together for years often maintain their EB so badly that the balance is 0 or even negative. If they get into a fight, a conflict will quickly spiral out of control due to a lack of “reserves”.

Building a positive balance in your EB is very easy. Be attentive. Give compliments. Immerse yourself in what the other person finds important. Listen sincerely. Show your appreciation. Show respect. Dare to be vulnerable. Share your dreams. Try to understand and be understood. Do not judge too easily. These are small, everyday gestures, not huge gifts or money. Just decent human behavior, really.

Just think about it. What kind of boss are you more likely to argue with? With a boss who has never said anything constructive to you and whose first comment about your work is immediately a critical one (balance 0, moving into the red) or with the boss who has regularly made a positive or interested comment and now says something critical? (balance +, room for a withdrawal). In the first case you only get angry, whether the criticism is justified or not. In the second case you are quite willing to think about the criticism, because your EB balance with this person is positive. Another example: who do you think you can call on in an emergency: the neighbor you have only a nodding acquaintance with or the neighbor you complimented only yesterday about his beautiful garden?

So make sure that all your EBs are in the plus. It must be sincere! False compliments or purposely flattering someone so you can call in the favor later won’t work. The EB is an extremely sensitive instrument, and only real communicative “gold” is recorded. And if you have made a withdrawal, you will have to top up the balance as soon as possible. Research has shown that it takes 20 positive deposits to offset 1 negative withdrawal! Fortunately, it costs nothing to maintain your EB, just a little humanity and attention. If the EB is regularly refilled, from both sides, then you are usually on the safe side when things get difficult. So invest heavily in your EBs, with your employees, your boss, your family, your ex and your partner, especially if nothing is wrong yet. If you do end up in a difficult discussion with them, a well-filled EB can make the difference between war or peace. And if you can’t work it out together, call the Conflict Coach!

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