The key to business relationships is building trust. That goes for clients, customers, partners, mentors, vendors, and anyone with whom you interact. When someone trusts you, they are more inclined to do business with you and refer your business to others.

However, while most people understand that trust creates more profound relationships, building and maintaining that trust is often a different story. The challenges arise when you don’t understand what someone needs to trust you and continually take actions that collapse existing trust.

If you find yourself wondering how to maintain business relationships, how to improve business relationships, or why business partnerships fail, you need to understand how The Platinum Rule and the emotional bank account contribute.

The Platinum Rule

Trust in business relationships boils down to The Platinum Rule, a spin on The Golden Rule, which we know states that you should treat others the way you wish to be treated. This sentiment becomes problematic when others don’t want to be treated the same way you do, and thus you assume they do too. Instead, The Platinum Rule states that you should treat others the way they wish to be treated.

The Emotional Bank Account

To keep tabs on the amount of trust that exists in your business relationships and whether you’re fulfilling The Platinum Rule, you can use the emotional bank account. Like a real bank account, the emotional bank account balance is the difference between deposits and withdrawals.

The goal is to maintain a positive balance in the emotional bank account. When you take actions that build trust, the emotional bank account balance increases. However, if you do something that breaks trust, the balance decreases. The catch is that you can spend years building up the balance only to have a single withdrawal drain the entire account.

What are the Emotional Bank Account Deposits and Withdrawals?

To keep the emotional bank account positive, you must continually build trust. However, every action that builds trust has an equal and opposite reaction that takes it away. Some examples of deposits and withdrawals include:

  • Keeping promises vs. breaking promises
  • Being kind and courteous vs. being unkind and discourteous
  • Being loyal vs. being disloyal
  • Listening vs. being distracted and forgetting pertinent information
  • Apologizing vs. being arrogant
  • Setting clear expectations vs. creating false expectations

How to Create a Positive Balance

Maintaining a positive balance in the emotional bank account is simple as long as you shape an environment where everyone feels comfortable, trusts each other, and wants to grow together. To foster this attitude, you can:

  • Be available, visible, and approachable.
  • Promote a learning climate.
  • Walk the talk by investing in self-development.
  • Encourage feedback.
  • Look for informal chances to connect.

Approaching business relationships with a fervent desire to meet the other party’s needs will always create strong, loyal relationships that equate to a higher balance in the emotional bank account. The relationships with the highest balances backing them can withstand mistakes and accidental withdrawals so long as you apologize and make a conscious effort to change.

Whether you’re a new business owner or simply trying to improve your business relationships, try approaching the give-and-take from the perspective that each interaction and action contributes to a metaphorical bank account. This perspective shift may encourage you to be more vocal about your needs and communicate more openly about theirs.