People Fuel, Part 2: What We Need from Each Other

Written by Dr. John Townsend

August 28, 2019

Research shows us that the quality of our relationships is a major indicator of how our quality of life works out. Those who don’t have enough sustained and safe relationships tend to have more health, relationship, emotional and career challenges. Relationships aren’t a luxury, they are a necessity, right up there with food and shelter.

In my new book People Fuel, I outline 4 Quadrants of what I call Relational Nutrients, that we are to regularly give and receive with each other. Just like our body needs bionutrients, neuroscience shows that these Relational Nutrients help our brains stay energetic, positive and focused. Only they don’t come in capsules. They are delivered via a face-to-face conversation, phone call, video, email or text. Here are the 4 areas:

Quadrant 1: Be Present
To be present means to “be there” and be personally and emotionally engaged with another person. Presence requires a few words, if any at all. When we are stressed or encountering challenges, sometimes advice is the last thing we need. But someone who can “enter our well” of challenge, can bring great benefit. This is because our most fundamental need is to know we are not alone, but that someone “gets it” about our situation. We need
Nutrients such as Acceptance, which is connection without judgement, and Attunement, which is “tuning in” to our emotional state and understanding it.

Quadrant 2: Convey the Good
Sometimes we feel a bit discouraged or “down” from some difficult situation at home or at work. But when someone conveys that they see good character, effort and achievement in us, it helps release oxytocin, which elevates our mood. All we need in these situations is for someone to give us Affirmation that we’re doing our best, or Encouragement that they believe in us.

Quadrant 3: Provide Reality
Life can throw complex situations at us, and we don’t have a quick solution. Work can be challenging and confusing, as well as relationships. We often need the right information, data or wisdom from someone who is “for” us. The Nutrients of Perspective and Insight often provide us with a better approach to a problem, so we can solve it.

Quadrant 4: Call to Action
At the end of the day, we need to do something, not just think something. Our behavior needs to become activated, to take an action step. This is when great Advice, or a Structured plan make all the difference in seeing the changes we need to make, that will make life work better.

Those are the Quadrants, and we need to receive and give Nutrients from each Quadrant pretty much every week.

Here’s the challenge: You must own your need, and you must also ask for your need, from the right person. It doesn’t work to wait for people to read your mind and try to give you a Nutrient that you might not need. But if you ask the right people, they will most likely be happy to help you. And you can give back to them.

We need to need. It’s how the world works! To get the whole list of all 22 Nutrients, get the book or just go to



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