How to measure the level of trust in your relationships

Relationships of Trust model

Strong, trusting relationships are the glue that help to keep you on the success path. Because try as you might, your chances of succeeding at anything are limited without the support and trust of others.

How to build these strong relationships of trust? You need to make sure that your emotional bank account is full. Let me explain it this way.

In his best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey introduced the concept of the Emotional Bank Account, which he defines as a, “metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship.”

As stated by Covey, “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. Your trust towards me becomes higher.”

Conversely, “If I have a habit of showing discourtesy, disrespect, cutting you off, overreacting, ignoring you, becoming arbitrary…eventually my Emotional Bank Account is overdrawn.”

Ultimately, a high trust relationship is one where the positive deposits far outweigh the negative withdrawals.

So how to measure that level of trust?  The graphic above illustrates my approach to applying Covey’s principle.  How it works is quite simple.

Using the model, you measure the relationship trust by placing from zero to three ticks next to each deposit (or positive) attribute, and up to three crosses next to each withdrawal (or negative) attribute.  Zero ticks or crosses for an attribute means it doesn’t apply to you.

The number of ticks or crosses per attribute represents its magnitude.  So for example, a person who constantly engages in blaming behaviour scores three crosses on that attribute.

Once you’ve gone through each attribute, calculate total scores for both deposits and withdrawals, then deduct the withdrawals from the deposits.  This will leave you with a net score.  You can then rate the relationship using the emoticons.

Where the deposits are much higher the withdrawals – say a minimum 6 ticks ahead – rate the relationship trust level as high.

Where the deposits are slightly ahead of withdrawals through to even scores, rate the trust level as neutral.

When withdrawals exceed deposits, rate the trust level as low.


The model can be used to measure relationships between two people, or to measure the level of relationship trust in a team.  When using it in a team setting it can help to gauge the level of function/dysfunction in the team, including team climate and culture.


One of the useful aspects of this model is that it pinpoints specific areas to work on.  And the work ons specifically are those deposits which scored low, or any withdrawal with an x next to it.  The more the x’s the bigger the work on.

Work ons can be improved through a variety of approaches such as coaching and training.


Stephen Covey’s Emotional Bank Account principle is a powerful metaphor to define and describe relationships and the level of trust that exists within them.

My visual model brings the principle to life and gives you a specific tool to help you measure your relationships, and to consider the actions you need to take to build the level of relationship trust even higher.