Keeping Emotional Score Is One of the Best Coaching Tips

It is easy to be buried in an avalanche of coaching tips. But one of the best tips on coaching that you will ever get is to keep tracked of the balance in the “emotional bank account” you have with your client.

OK, but what Is an Emotional Bank Account?

Glad you asked. Steven Covey invented the term in his landmark book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. Basically the idea is that whenever you do something “nice” to someone you make a deposit into this emotional bank account. When you do something that is “not so nice”, you make a withdrawal. So long as you have a positive balance you are given a little slack, and the “not so nice” things you might say are not taken so badly. On the other hand if you start over drawing your account, you pay the price.

Fine, but Why Is this One of the Best Coaching Tips?

The idea is that as a coach, sometimes you have to be nice, and sometimes you have to be tough with your clients. And if you are keeping tracked of your emotional bank account, you know how far you can constructively go being tough, without breaking the relationship. That is how far you can go without overdrawing your account. And any idea that keeps you from bouncing those emotional checks has got to be one of the greatest coaching tips!

But How Exactly Do You Know Your Balance

Your ability, to bring your client to the very brink of total dismissal before you pull them back to heart- felt bonding, is really the power that makes this one of the greatest coaching tips. Therefore, your ability to judge the emotional account balance you have with your client is critical. I recommend making consistent deposits whenever you are not consciously stressing the relationship. Then when you are stressing the relationship be sensitive to your client’s emotional state. This requires you to remain cool in spite of any exterior persona that you are adopting. Then observe your client, looking for any signs of closing down or turning off. Pushing back is OK. But make a point of managing that interaction carefully, as well. If you do, you will have achieved a new level of effectiveness with your clients, and you will maintain a positive emotional balance, as well.

By the way… you’re invited to claim your FREE step-by-step “Master Coach Blueprint” video toolkit. Just go HERE now to get your master coach blueprint videos.

Dave Iuppa
JTS Advisors Strategy and Accountability Coach

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  1. says

    I think I understand what you are getting at here Dave. It sounds very similar to “Help as many people get what they want and you will get what you want”. I always to my best to help people and find that when I do I get the same treatment in return.

  2. A.J. Bernier says

    I love the book 7 habits it was a must read for everybody at my first R.E job. I have to admit I had forgotten about that concept of the emotional bank account maybe I should revisit it.

    “The commitments we make to ourselves and to others, and our integrity to those commitments, is the essence and clearest manifestation of our proactivity.”- Stephen Covey

    That has always stayed with me though.

    Be Blessed and Have Success

  3. says

    Makes perfect sense… I actually had to do this the other day. I was little concerned but it turned out I had a lot in the emotional back account I was able to withdraw!! Now to keep tabs on it, may be a little bit more work! Love the idea!!

  4. says

    I love your use of Covey’s Emotional Bank Account.

    It’s kind of a dance whenever we work with someone in this way. Too much in either direction will throw things off, either not motivating them enough or risk overdrawing our account.

    This reminds me of the saying “Love without force is weakness and force without love is brutatality.”
    If we really care for someone, we will say the tough things that sometimes need to be said and if we have made enough deposits we can maintain a great connection.

  5. says

    Hey Dave,
    This is a concept that is used in a lot of different areas of life. If you come out the gate hard others may take you as attacting them, which will shut them down and not make them want to come back. Building a connection with them first is always the best way. So when it is time to give that tough love and tell them the truth abouts their old habits they will not that it so personal. People who can do this (keep track) are people you not empowered by their ego. I mean sometimes people want to be helpful but come off as “I know what I am talking about, so you need to listen to me”. Great post – TTYL

  6. says

    Ok, I love this tip. So very, very important. This applies to absolutely any service where a client is involved. Even if you are building blogs and websites as I do. It’s important to be nice when you can, because there will be times when there are glitches and hold-ups and delays and whatever and what-have-you. If you’ve deposited into your clients bank account and you’ve built up that rapport, you can weather the storm if you make a mistake or are delayed due to events beyond your control. I have seen the benefits of establishing real rapport with my client, so that when I needed it, I had it!

    Jupiter Jim

  7. says

    I was so attracted to this title. The emotional piggy bank is what I tell people is their karma bank. I see we are on the same page here. I go by the old saying what goes around comes around. Treating people nicely … even better than you can will usually pull in a nice reaction. Mimicking is a part of nature. We smile and usually people smile back.
    I do the “nice” thing with my clients because it does come from my heart. BUT… I do not allow anyone to talk in a negative tone, or try to overwhelm me. There are so many aspects on coaching. Emotional ones are very important to keep yourself strong and healthy for not only your own good, but the good of those who are you clients.
    Great Blog

  8. says

    Hi Dave, is it best to be nice to a new client for awhile before getting tough with him or her? So, for example, when you have a new client who never does the things they promise you they’ll do. When you meet for the 2nd time and they start making excuses as to why they couldn’t do their “action steps”.

    So, it’s okay to be nice and move on. But, if they continually procrastinate, then we should get tough?

    Otherwise, we’re not really helping them, if they asked us to make them accountable.

    bye for now, Julieanne

  9. Peter Fuller MBA says

    Hey Dave

    I wonder if there is an app to keep track 🙂

    I think we know intuitively where someone is at who we are coaching.

    You need to build up goodwill before you get tough with someone.

    The only reason to get tough is to make some take action or decide not to.


  10. says

    I have not heard it explained quite this way thanks for that. It is indeed a fine line that we walk. And I am sure you would agree that it also depend upon the level that we are ourselves. If we are just starting out we have to be a little more cautious and use the expertise of coaches with more experience until we gain our own competence. I have been know to be over-zealous and blow my new recruits right out of the water!

  11. Jeffrey T. Sooey says


    is it best to be nice to a new client for awhile before getting tough with him or her? So, for example, when you have a new client who never does the things they promise you they’ll do. When you meet for the 2nd time and they start making excuses as to why they couldn’t do their “action steps”.

    So, it’s okay to be nice and move on. But, if they continually procrastinate, then we should get tough?

    As a rule of thumb, I think you’re spot on. However, it really depends on the client. I would handle each client on a case by case basis. Some clients won’t respect you at all if you EVER give them any breathing room. Some clients are so sensitive that you always need to soften your accountability ‘tough love’.

    One of the things I’ll do, is to go ahead and make investments in the ’emotional bank account’ literally WHILE I’m being tough. In other words, I’m going to be ‘good cop’ and ‘bad cop’ simultaneously. I might say,

    “You’re breaking your commitment and that’s not okay. I say that because I know you’re someone who is strong enough, capable enough, and trustworthy enough to get this done, and anything less than that is NOT who you are. I’m not going to put up with any less, because I respect you too much to allow it.”


  12. says

    Hi Jeff, thanks so much for your example of being good and bad cop! While I was reading your comment, I was thinking to myself “now, how do I do that?”, then you gave me a perfect example!

    Regards from Julieanne

  13. says

    I am inspired with this post, and I would like to share my opinion – From time to time you might even find that you will comprehend something amazing from the experience despite of the outcome.Regular exercise and a healthy diet will increase your positive disposition and you will feel good about yourself. You can also discipline yourself to look at the positive side of the situation instead of how it is not fair or how it’s wrong.

  14. Shana Jara says

    Hi Jeff,

    In simple words, I love your example of “good-cop/bad-cop”, speaks volumes!


    SJ 🙂

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