Nourishment comes in many forms. We eat nutritious foods to sate our appetites and fuel our bodies. We engage in spiritual activities and moments of reflection to nourish the soul. We volunteer our time and donate to worthy causes to satisfy our desire to help the communities in which we live. Yet all too often, we overlook the importance of developing nourishing relationships, which are essential elements of a strong career journey and personal life.

What happens during this kind of give-and-take connection? Both parties feed each other through a deliberate mind shift from self to other. A colleague might form a nourishing relationship with a co-worker; likewise, a leader might initiate regular get-togethers with an employee to fuel positive feedback. Even vendors have the ability to foster nurturing ties with clients, enhancing interaction and collective success.

Anywhere comfort, trust, and assessment exist, a nourishing relationship is possible. No wonder the wisest professionals understand this premise and use it to their benefit at home and on the job.

Self-Growth Through Nutritive Relationships

From the time we’re children, we learn that having friendships and connections provides safety and value. What we may not understand as innately is the link between nourishment and excellent performance, trusting partnerships, strong financial results, improved productivity, and continuous growth.

Around our house, we’ve made nourishment through relationship building an everyday exercise. My husband and I regularly have “relationship reviews” where we sit down and discuss what’s working and what’s not. Somewhat like workplace “performance management processes,” our discussions allow us to clear the air and help one another. Though we’ve been teased about these arrangements, at least three other couples who’ve seen the results have followed suit.

Even my teenagers and I follow the rule of nurturing one another through honest, safe conversations. Life tends to be less risky that way. My children comfortably raise questions and concerns in a supportive environment, and we all move forward with good intentions.

As my experience shows, adhering to nourishment provides structure and purpose. It gives everyone involved goals to work toward. It also clarifies values, which provide necessary life parameters. At the end of the day, such nourishment promotes well-being, concentration, performance, diligence, and happiness.

In other words, nourishing relationships belong everywhere, from the bustling sales meeting room to the comfortable, private living room.

Fostering Nourishment in a Few Steps

If the concept of bringing a heightened level of awareness to all your connections seems foreign, know that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Simply follow a few strategic techniques to embrace the notion of nourishment.

1. Establish guidelines with the other individual.

Never expect anyone to play a disappointing guessing game, trying to figure out what you want. Instead, map out your hopes and expectations early. Be sure to address what is acceptable and what isn’t; this sets boundaries for feedback and protects everyone involved.

2. Be respectful and direct during all communications.

You don’t have to sugarcoat during your communications with others. In fact, you’re better off being direct because doing so increases trust. However, do be sure you’re not saying hurtful or unkind words. If you have a grievance or problem, practice what you’ll say ahead of time and evaluate your verbiage. That way, you can be sure to speak openly but without harm.

3. Start from a place of appreciation.

Not sure how to move your ordinary relationships both in person and online into a sphere of kindness? Start conversations by thanking your friend, colleague, or relative for something specific. Indicate that you notice and appreciate what he or she does. You might be surprised at how quickly this will transform your connection. After all, most people overlook the simple actions that mean so much.

4. Allow people to opt out.

Nourishing relationships aren’t for everyone. I’ve had people opt out along the way. You cannot force someone into a mutually nourishing arrangement. Some relationships are doomed to be one-sided. Accept this fact early, and don’t allow it to poison your future attempts to form nutritive relations.

You nourish yourself in many other areas, so don’t settle for a diet of paltry, unequal, or unhealthy personal and business relationships. Enhance as many of your connections as you can with shared nourishment in mind. In little time, you’ll see a major metamorphosis that will prompt happiness, possibilities, and success.

Guide to Inspired Life