Relational Nutrients: What You Need from Others, and What You Can Provide to Others

Dr. John Townsend

June 28, 2019

We all need energy and clarity, for our families and our work. We know that the right nutrition, sleep, workouts and a positive attitude are part of the equation for energy and clarity. However, neuroscience research now shows that the quality of our relationships plays a major part in this as well.

This article will show you what great things you need from others, and what you can also provide to others. In my just-released book People Fuel ( Leadership/dp/0310346592/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0_encoding=UTF8&qid=1561127089&sr=8-2), I use the parallel of how our bodies need bionutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, to stay healthy and active. If you don’t have enough calcium, for example, you risk osteoporosis. If you lack sufficient iron, you can become anemic.

In the same way, I use the term relational nutrients to describe how we keep each other energetic, clear and vital via what we provide to each other. However, instead of taking a supplement capsule, the nutrients are delivered from brain-to-brain by meaningful conversations: face to face, phone, text and videos.

If we don’t intake the necessary relational nutrients, and at the right times, we can lose energy, have mood problems and not be as effective and productive as we could be. There are 22 nutrients, grouped into 4 Quadrants, which makes it simple to understand and use. Here are the Quadrants:

Quadrant 1: Be Present. Sometimes we just need someone to “be there” for us, and with us, when we are having a challenge. Being present means that the person is interested, engaged, listening well and tuned in to our emotional state. If you’ve ever been overwhelmed and upset, and have someone give you lots of advice instead of just “being there” with you, you know what this means.

Quadrant 2: Convey the Good. When we’ve had a struggle or a failure, it’s easy for us to become discouraged or “out of gas.” The relational nutrients in this Quadrant provide encouragement, respect and affirmation for us.

Quadrant 3: Provide Reality. If you’ve ever had a complicated relationship or work problem, you know how much you need insight, perspective or feedback from another. Those conversations which get to the “Why” of our challenge are enlightening and clarifying for us.

Quadrant 4: Call to Action. Sometimes we need someone to help us get off our butts and take some practical step! That might mean advice to make a plan, or have a conversation we’ve been avoiding, or take a needed risk.

You can download a free digital table of the 22 relational nutrients in the 4
Quadrants, by simply going to and accessing it. Or you can print a hard copy for yourself, whichever works for you.
The right nutrients from others, and to others, may be the missing piece for you.



Related Articles

Craig Kautsch “True Grit” podcast

Ever wonder what the meaning of emotional intelligence really is? My next guest is Dr. John Townsend has written over 30 books on the topic. He has sold over 10 million copies, including the New York Times bestselling Boundaries series. John is a nationally-known...

read more
Vulnerability: Absolutely Risky. And Absolutely Necessary

Vulnerability: Absolutely Risky. And Absolutely Necessary

You and I need people in our lives who care deeply about us, who are safe, and who want our best. We want them to  “be there” with us, to encourage us when we are discouraged, to give us insight on what’s going on, and to call us to the right action steps to make life...

read more
NYT: How to Set Pandemic Boundaries for Relatives

NYT: How to Set Pandemic Boundaries for Relatives

Dr. Townsend had the privilege of being interviewed for this informative and timely article by the New York Times. Article Excerpt: Be a conduit, not a lifeline ... "When you feel overwhelmed, Dr. Townsend recommends that you create a list of all of your...

read more