Getting along with others

Updated: Mar 18

Beginning of Public Victory

Paradigm of Interdependence

Many of us believe in the zero-sum game. This is the type of game where one person wins, and the other person loses. It is our only way of looking at the world. If my neighbor is winning at life, I must be losing. We must overcome this and come to have an abundance mentality. Many people can be growing in happiness constantly. Even, everyone can grow in happiness if we all work together. Now, this might not happen, and we do not have a magic bullet to make it happen. Still, we can believe that there is the possibility of an abundance of happiness for all people available if we simply receive it.

“You can’t be successful with other people if you haven’t paid the price of success with yourself” (Covey, 1989/2004, p. 195). How do we get along with each other? The first step is to be somebody who is worth getting to know. Virtue is at the core of a good personality. If we form ourselves in virtue, we will get along better with more people. “Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others” (Covey, 1989/2004, p. 196). Only by controlling ourselves, are we able to establish meaningful and lasting relationships with others.

Emotional Bank Account

This is one of the most helpful images I have ever gleaned from Covey’s works. We know how a bank account works, with deposits and withdrawals. Well, there is a similar situation in relationships. “If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve” (Covey, 1989/2004, p. 198). There is more trust and a better relationship. On the other hand, “if I have a habit of showing discourtesy, disrespect, cutting you off, overreacting, ignoring you, becoming arbitrary, betraying your trust, threatening you, or playing little tin god in your life, eventually my Emotional Bank Account is overdrawn” (Covey, 1989/2004, p. 198).

When the Emotional Bank Account is near empty or overdrawn, there is little mutual trust. We assume the worst of people. When there is a lot of credit built up, we are more understanding and forgive small faults without thinking twice about it.

If we want to make an impact in somebody’s life, we have to make sure that we have invested a lot in the Emotional Bank Account. It is not enough to tell someone the truth or give good advice. We need to build up our credibility first, and then give good advice. Otherwise, it is like pouring fresh water into the ocean. It will not make much of a difference.

Six Major Deposits

Understanding the individual

“Really seeking to understand another person is probably one of the most important deposits you can make, and it is the key to every other deposit” (Covey, 1989/2004, p. 200). This speaks to empathic skill. “Empathic skill allows you to attain a deeper understanding of and respect for another’s perceptions, feelings, beliefs, motives, attitudes, and wishes” (Guerney & Scuka, 2005, p. 11). We all long to feel understood. To have somebody receive us with empathic skill can make a huge difference. This opens up the individual to apply suggested strategies much more willingly.

Attending the little things

Little things make a big difference. When we pay attention to detail, we build up a relationship. If we do not take care of the little things, we allow the relationship to erode. “Inside, even within the most toughened and calloused exteriors, are the tender feelings and emotions of the heart” (Covey, 1989/2004, p. 203). By reaching out to somebody through attending to the little things, you are making real deposits into the Emotional Bank Account that connects you.

Keeping commitments

Nobody likes a broken word. “My word is my bond.” It sounds good as a slogan but is it a reality? Whenever we meet somebody, we are constantly sizing them up, trying to figure out their trustworthiness. Never make a promise you can’t keep. By building up our credibility, we make sure that our help and counsel actually makes an impact in the people we encounter.

Clarifying expectations

“Unclear expectations in the area of goals also undermine communication and trust” (Covey, 1989/2004, p. 204). Oftentimes, expectations are merely implicit. We think in our own mind that they are mutually understood, but when they are not; this leads to trouble. We have to learn to make expectations clear all the way around. One good strategy is to ask the other person to state clearly the expectation. If it matches yours, you have a case of clear communication.

Showing personal integrity

Integrity goes beyond honesty. “Honesty is telling the truth – in other words, conforming our words to reality. Integrity is conforming reality to our words – in other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations” (Covey, 1989/2004, pp. 205-206). We have to make a habit of being loyal to the person who is absent. If we are speaking about somebody who is not there, the other person in the conversation will wonder if we do the same when he or she is absent. What kind of reputation are you making for yourself?

Apologizing sincerely when you make a withdrawal

We all make a mistake. It is important to say that you’re sorry and to start over. Here, it is also important to avoid fake apologies. “I am sorry you are upset” is a lame apology. Either you did something wrong or you didn’t. Laying on a veneer of insincerity does not resolve anything. It is better to take the hit and recognize your fault in time to rebuild the relationship by restoring integrity. “People with little internal security can’t do it. It makes them too vulnerable” (Covey, 1989/2004, p. 208). We have to make sure that we have built up a positive balance in the Emotional Bank Account for an apology to work. “Sincere apologies make deposits, repeated apologies interpreted as insincere make withdrawals. And the quality of relationship reflects it” (Covey, 1989/2004, p. 208).

Laws of Love and Laws of Life

Creating unity requires great personal strength and courage. It is good to take stock regularly of our relationships to make sure they can serve as a firm foundation for all involved, so they can feel secure and capable in their various endeavors.

Every problem in interpersonal relations can lead to a deeper relationship and greater end results.


Covey, S. R. (1989/2004). The seven habits of highly effective people. Powerful lessons in personal change. Simon and Schuster.

Guerney, Jr. B., & Scuka, R. F. (2005). Relationship enhancement client manual (4th ed.). Silver Spring, MD: Relationship Press.

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