The 4th Habit of Highly Effective People: Think Win/Win (Part II)

Think Win Win 2

Last week, we talked about Stephen Covey’s secret to avoiding adversarial relationships and practicing effective interpersonal leadership: The habit to “Think Win/Win.” See: The 4th Habit of Highly Effective People: Think Win/Win (Part I)

We discussed the first foundational piece that needs to be in place in order to be able to truly think win/win, a Character that has Integrity, Maturity and an Abundance Mentality.

Once we have a solid foundation of our Character, we can build and maintain the second foundational piece: Great Relationships.

A key element in great relationships is trust. Stephen Covey uses the analogy of the Emotional Bank Account for developing trust with others. How do you make deposits into and build up an Emotional Bank account? Covey suggests 6 different ways:

1. Understanding the individual: Really seeking to understand the other person and what’s important to them. The eye-opening part here is that what constitutes a deposit for you, like going out for ice cream or working on a project together might not be perceived by the other person as a deposit at all – it might be even perceived as a withdrawal, if it doesn’t touch the person’s deep interests or needs.

 2. Attending to the Little Things: Little kindnesses and courtesies are so important: offering words of encouragement, a heartfelt thank you, bringing someone a drink, etc. Small discourtesies, little unkindnesses, and little forms of disrespect make large withdrawals. And it’s true – people remember little acts of kindness. I had people mention small things I did for them years after the fact when I couldn’t even remember doing them!

 3. Keeping Commitments: Keeping a commitment or a promise is a major deposit; breaking one is a major withdrawal. This is where a character filled with integrity comes in.

 4. Clarifying Expectations: Many times relationship problems stem from the fact that there are conflicting or unclear expectations around roles and goals. Many times we have never stated our expectations, yet we somehow assume the other person knows what they are. Since fulfilling expectations makes great deposits and violating them makes withdrawals, it’s important to get all the expectations out on the table and make them clear and explicit. This sometimes takes a lot of courage, since it seems easier to hope that things will work out rather than facing the differences and work together to come up with a mutual set of expectations.

 5. Showing Personal Integrity: Integrity goes beyond honesty – it’s not just about telling the truth, but staying true to our words through our actions. It’s showing loyalty to people even if they are not present. And treating everyone by the same set of principles.

6. Apologizing Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawal: When we make a withdrawal from the emotional bank account, apologizing sincerely is critical. Mistakes can be forgiven if they are admitted. However, if the apology is not seen as sincere, it creates a withdrawal instead.

Understanding how important little kindnesses are, I want to become even more aware of and look for more opportunities to attend to them. I also want to practice clarifying expectations more. It’s so easy to assume that everyone has the same expectation, when most of the time, our expectations are probably different when they have never been spoken.

When you look at relationships in your life, what’s the balance in your Emotional Bank Accounts? What are some deposits that you would like to make?


Manuela loves helping smart and creative women bring more balance, happiness and success into their lives through Professional Life Coaching!


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