The Number One Quality for Successful Relationships – The Secret to Thriving in 2017

Danny Silk

New Years is a time to celebrate growth–to be grateful for the steps we’ve made in the past twelve months, and stir up hope and expectation for where we want to make progress in the next twelve. Yet so often the progress we’re celebrating (or wishing we had made) is limited to our waistline or bank account, rather than the quality of our character and relationships. I want to challenge you to think about how you want to grow in these areas in 2017, and throw out the number-one character quality I think would make our lives and relationships so much better.

We want to help you grow in relational intelligence this year. Growing in anything requires a growth mentality. A growth mentality is a key characteristic of being a powerful person. Powerful people understand that taking responsibility for their lives and relationships means engaging in an ongoing journey of learning about themselves and others, how they are affecting others, how they are managing their internal world and behavior, and how they are building connection.

One of the core character qualities that make up a growth mentality is humility.  Humility is not diminishing yourself, being passive, and having no boundaries. It’s not having no value for yourself–quite the opposite. It’s understanding the strength you have to offer and choosing to use it to serve others rather than yourself. It’s learning to become effective in using that strength.

Here are three ways we can grow in humility:

1. Understand how we are affecting the world around us.

Most of us like to shift responsibility to others when problems arise, but this is powerless and irresponsible. A powerful person approaches every situation with the mentality, “I am responsible for how I interact with others and how I affect them, regardless of what someone else chooses to do.”

Managing our responses to others and understanding the effect we are having on them don’t necessarily come naturally or automatically. We actually have to learn how to do this. This is where humility comes in. It requires the humility to seek feedback and invite others to give us really great information about how they are experiencing us.

2. Be willing to adjust to strengthen connection.

A person operating in humility has the desire to create strong connections, and is willing to make adjustments in order to do so. Humility does not assume it is the other person’s job to adjust.

In unhealthy relationships, people are afraid to adjust their behavior in order to serve another person, because they believe it means they are giving up control. In healthy relationships, both people control themselves, so adjusting behavior is actually a powerful act that says, “I choose you and our relationship over myself.” Every time we adjust for the sake of our connection, we strengthen that connection.

3. Prioritize meeting the needs of others.

Paul wrote, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:3-4 NLT). He wasn’t saying that we have to meet every need in the people around us or pay no attention to our own interests. Every person we interact with has a different set of needs, as well as a different level of access to our hearts. But he was saying that we should be looking for ways to meet others’ needs. Whether we’re looking out for the needs of a spouse, child, friend, or coworker, it requires us to pay attention, find out what those needs are, and learn how to meet them effectively.

Humility, the ability to adapt and make changes, is necessary to grow in relational intelligence.

It may not seem easy to get started, but with some effort, you will be on your way to the relationships you desire.



PS) If interested in continuing with  us on this journey of relational intelligence, here are two things I’d suggest!

  1. 1.Sign-up for #KYLODaily to receive daily wisdom for keeping your love on & boosting your relational IQ! Sign-up here!
  2. 2.Be sure to enroll in one or all of The Life Academy core tracks! We’ve discounted them by 25% for the New Year’s season. Learn more here!

PPS) Share with us some topics you would like to know more about as it relates to relational intelligence.

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  1. I would like to know more about how to interact better as an adult child with my parents. I love them and they are great parents but there is definitely manipulation and control there that they cease to see and continue to demand things of me even as a 30+ adult who has my own family now. As I try to communicate and work things out they see that as threatening and lash back. How do I show respect and humility but still continue to pursue a better relationship and communication when they won’t budge. They definitely don’t recognize healthy boundaries and communication. In another relationship I could let it go or deal with it in my heart differently i guess. But when it’s your parents (and your kids grandparents) it’s like a whole other playing field. It’s so hard.

  2. I completely second Ashley’s comment above. My parents and in-laws buy and buy and buy for our 4 kids. I have told them how exhausted and overwhelmed I am with the stuff they bring into our home and having to constantly purge and reorganize to make room and how fearful i am our kids will be spoiled. They do not care, or at least they don’t care more than they are afraid of our kids not loving them if they stop spoiling them. I simply do not have the time to keep this up, but once stuff enters my home, I have to deal with it whether I like it or not. If I refuse toys, my kids see me as the bad person… Help!

  3. Hi there,
    I would love to know more about relational intelligence in relation to interacting with others with mental illnesses, in particular where there is a struggle with self-awareness and pride. There seems to be a fair amount of side stepping this issue in the church, especially when the husband is the one is is struggling with mental illnesses that exhibit these types of behaviors. Thank you so much! Love what I get to read from you! 🙂

  4. Most people try to connect with others by meeting the needs of others. This is not bad if you are meeting the needs God shows you, but if you are meeting the needs of others based on what they say they need, this might not always be the best thing. I’ve discovered that not many people in this world are in tune with God. Their relationship with God are not as strong as it should be, so naturally, they try to get needs that only God should meet from various people. If people don’t meet these needs or hurt them in some way, they get angry and offended and they play the blame game. I believe that the most important thing about developing a healthy relationship is having a strong relationship with God and knowing that He meets all your needs. Only when you have this can you truly love and help another person sacrificially. Many times, when I meet people, I don’t necessarily meet the needs that they want me to meet. I meet the needs that God is showing me because God knows what their real needs are. People often want us to put a bandage on their problems, and they keep coming back over and over again, never changed. However, if we actually meet the needs that God is showing us and go straight for their core needs or core problems, then even though they may hurt initially and not like you very much for a while, one day they will grow if they take your words to heart. I believe this is how Jesus caused His disciples to grow up. If you read the gospel, Jesus baffled and offended His disciples all the time, yet because their spirits kept telling them that this Man had the words of life, they kept following Him. One day, because they didn’t stop following their Lord, in the Upper Room, the Holy Spirit fell on them, and they finally understood what Jesus was trying to teach and do for the past 3 1/2 years. In short, measure success in your relationships not by how well you click, get along, or don’t offend the other person, but by how much you helped the other person grow closer to God and become more like God. Love in Christ, Mary Esther.

  5. As a full-time missionary-pastor, I have to appreciate Mary Esther’s observation. I just had a major crash after running around trying to meet all these needs, and then just as I want to spend time on the Life Academy Leadership course, I get a call from this depressed person who has fallen out of fellowship, and because we had been praying for him and wanting to see him restored, we dropped everything to meet with him. By the evening I had the same headache, depression, and hopeless emotions that he has and he is no better from our time with him. For me it seems much healthier to see what God is doing and what needs He is meeting, and let Him use me as his channel in that. My husband and I decided we will no longer meet with this person until he decides to take the first step of coming back into fellowship with the church. Sometimes living to meet other’s needs can actually be a means of trying to win love and approval, and then we feel angry and resentful when they don’t respond accordingly. Today, as I read the article from last week on what kings dream about, I decided I did not want to just relate to God on a "meet all my needs and make me feel better" level, but to partner with Him in seeing HIS dreams and vision fulfilled in the people around me.

  6. Mary Esther, you have clarified something that I have been struggling with for a long time in terms of relationships and meetings others needs as well as attempting to having my needs met. Once we come to the awareness that our needs can only be met once we know our identity in Christ and focus on our relationship with Him, then we can be faithful to Him and true to ourselves. Thank you Danny for your Godly wisdom as always!

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