Leaning to People

The Relational Bank Account

I think I first came across this concept in the writings of Stephen Covey about twenty years ago. It struck me then as a powerful metaphor. I have used it many times since. It changed the way I looked at requesting people to change for me and for my reasons. It is still as powerful as ever.

Relational Bank Account Video

The Relational Bank Account is thinking about the relationship with another person, a stakeholder, as the equivalent of a bank account. You ‘deposit’ into the account by acts of helpfulness and so on.

You make withdrawals, positively by asking that stakeholder to do something for you, something they wouldn’t do otherwise. And you should only attempt to make a positive withdrawal if you know there is something in that account.

You can make more negative, rapid withdrawals by disappointing them or not meeting their expectations of you. You can even make withdrawals by neglecting them. Relational bank accounts leak.

I’ve found this to be a powerful concept. It makes me take stock of the relational capital with key stakeholders before I proceed with making a request or any kind of demand on them.​ 

The Relational Bank Account is a powerful influencing strategy particularly when it is done with the right values.

To some people, this can appear at first a little cynical, crude, even somewhat calculated and manipulative. I suppose people could use it that way. However, it all depends on the values you bring to bear on this technique.

If you have a grasping, selfish, self-serving set of values, then it could be used manipulatively. But I very much doubt it would work as well, quite apart of the ethics of the matter.

Whereas, if you approach the relational bank account as a strategy to express your values of generosity, service and empathy, along with an abundance mindset, then you are much more likely to get positive results and the relationships will be enhanced over the long-term as well.​

There are at least ten different ways we can make positive deposits into key relationships around us.

I have published a short 13-page ebook that you can download. In all, I identify 10 different ways we can make ‘deposits’ into the relationships around us. You can download it below.

As always, please let me know how you get on. Maybe leave me a comment below, particularly if it helps you achieve some kind of breakthrough in relationships.​

Copyright: neyro2008 / 123RF Stock Photo

2 replies on “The Relational Bank Account”

Very interesting and very true. Every human relationship (apart from possibly some very altruistic ones – where for example someone is on life support) relies on deposits and withdrawals. If it is all one way, the relationship will soon wither and die.

Thanks, Rob. Your comment made me reflect that the extreme cases are important for us. The sacrificial acts begin to highlight what is deepest in our nature as human beings.

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