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Posts Tagged ‘emotional bank account’

Strengthening Families in Times of Crisis

Friday, May 8th, 2009

I was in Dallas on Monday, May 4 to make a presentation on strengthening families in times of crisis. Gathered in the room were people who have recently lost their jobs and find themselves looking for new work in a very tough environment. This gathering, of course, was a snapshot of millions of people all over the U.S. and in many parts of the world due to the economic crisis that has gripped us.

Being out of work and looking for work can have a troubling impact on families. The mounting stress, pressure and worries often impact a person’s ability to be the kind of spouse or parent they would like to be. Communication might break down. Fighting or quarrels might increase in your relationships. And family members might feel neglected, scared or withdrawn.

In such situations, I counsel people to remember who are the most important people in their lives and what matters most to them Yes, being out of a job might have you in a crisis, but your family is your most precious possession. So what can you do to strengthen your family in times of trouble?

There are three things that I encourage everyone to do with their families in good times or bad:

  1. Write a family mission statement—identify what kind of family you want to be. For instance, what qualities define your family, what kinds of feeling do you want in your home, how do you want to build relationships? Get everyone involved in these questions and write something that describes your family and how you want to be.
  2. Hold weekly family meetings—gather your family once a week to talk about issues, problems or good things in your family. Refer to your mission statement to see how you are doing. Enjoy this time together; do something fun.
  3. Remember the emotional bank account—similar to a bank account, you can make deposits or withdrawals from each of your family relationships. Make a conscious effort to make meaningful deposits in your relationships. When you make a withdrawal, apologize and correct the mistake.

As you do these things, you will find your relationships strengthened in your family. You will take control of your life and your family’s life rather than being tossed away by the storms of problems or crises that come your way. With a strong family, you will be more effective in your job search and your family will be your greatest source of strength and support.

For more ideas on strengthening families you may interested in reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families or other good books on the subject.

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Restoring Trust Can be an Enormously Positive Adventure

Friday, October 31st, 2008

When examining the great losses we’re seeing in the global financial crisis, one thing is very clear: one of the greatest losses we feel is broken trust. But all is not lost. It is a challenging path and a time consuming one, but trust can be re-built and restored.

In any given situation, both personal and in professional life, I think that the process of restoring trust can be an enormously positive adventure because you can redeem yourself and create newness. For example, when you have a broken relationship with someone, you have to learn to acknowledge your role in it, apologize, and  have humility. Then you need to find a way to involve the person in a process of coming up with a new relationship.

I sometimes use the metaphor of an Emotional Bank Account. Like a financial bank account, you can make deposits and take withdrawals from the account. When you make consistent deposits, out of your integrity and out of your empathy—that means your understanding of what deposits and withdrawals are to other people—those two things—empathy and integrity—that little by little you can restore trust.

Think of your own crisis you may dealing with—perhaps a broken trust at work or at home or with a friend—and think of how you can restore trust in the relationship. Examine your Emotional Bank Account with this person; it’s most likely strained because of withdrawals. Make a commitment to start making deposits that matter most to that person, and do it. Little by little, even with small deposits, you will find that the account will grow. It may take time. But over time you will find the cumulative effect of the deposits. Slowly, depending on the severity of the broken trust, you can find trust being re-built and restored, and new relationship will be born. Of course, this also depends on the other person, but you can choose to do your part regardless of the other person—to focus on your circle of influence. And you will find some peace, knowing that you’ve done your part.

Reach out to someone today with whom you have a strained relationship or someone whose relationship needs strengthening. Make a deposit in their Emotional Bank Account…and commit to continuing the deposits. And don’t forget making deposits in your strong, high-trust relationships—it’s what keeps them strong! Enjoy the adventure!

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