How To Communicate More Effectively

Blog Feller Behavioral Health UT Counseling


Put something in the bank before taking anything out!

Everybody knows that you have to put money in the bank if you expect to have anything to take out. Relational Bank Account, a concept developed by Stephen Covey, reminds us how important “deposits” are to healthy rewarding relationships.

A deposit is anything positive and/or validating said to the person you are talking to. “Thank you for making time for me.” I love that dress on you – it’s your color!” I admire your persistent commitment to things you feel strongly about.” “You got all of your chores done without being asked! Thank you for being such a great example for your brothers and sisters.” These are all examples of deposits in a relational bank account.

When you have something to talk about that has the potential for conflict, you know that a withdrawal is about to happen. Whether it’s your child, spouse or a co-worker, always remember to put something in the bank first! Deposit some positive, validating words and comments before you even think about taking money out of your relational bank account. Examples of withdrawals: addressing 1) a problem in the relationship, 2) something that didn’t get done or 3) providing constructive feedback.

Examples of healthy relational exchanges (deposits & withdrawals) follow –

Deposit #1:

Great news that you are taking this seriously – truly it is.  You are showing good initiative and making some important commitments toward being more supportive of the kids and me. These are great first steps toward helping us know that we are the most important thing to you!

Withdrawal #1:

Nevertheless sweetheart, these are only first steps.  The proof will be in the pudding – meaning we all need to see this happen and experience it consistently to build trust that you are there for us and that you’ve always got our backs. You work hard to provide for us, and I know you want to do everything you can for us. When it comes to supporting your family and especially the kids, talk is cheap. I know this from my own experience with them. They respond positively to me when I “do” what they need; I only disappoint them when I “say” I’ll do something and I don’t. They need to see you “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.” They need a dad to be there for them. I know you can do this!

Deposit #2:

You have worked very hard this term to get your grades up, and it is paying off! Come here and I’ll show you on the school district website how well you are doing – all “A’s” and “B’s.” Wow – this is awesome! Great work! Another thing I want you to know I appreciate is the way you have included your younger brother when you and your buddies go do something. It means the world to him!

Withdrawal #2:

You have come home late, past curfew three Fridays in a row, even though you know our agreement. We are happy to allow you to take the car as long as you are respectful and grateful. You know that we follow “The Law of the Harvest” (you reap when you sow), so driving the car will no longer be an option for you for a while. Even though we are disappointed in the choices you have been making, we all make mistakes. It’s how we handle our mistakes that defines us. You are a great young man, and we know you can respond positively to this course correction. Let’s talk about this more later this week. We love you son.

Feller Behavioral Health specializes in assessment, diagnosis and treatment of all common and most of the major mental health disorders.  Our interdisciplinary team approach to your health care provides comprehensive and effective treatment.