Relationship Strategies of Successful People

People sometimes ask me why I, as a licensed chiropractor, spend one of my three articles each week talking about our thought life, faith, and mindset.

Like I’ve said so many times here on the blog, wellness is more than a straight spine and healthy food choices. Wellness is when your whole life is in balance – body, mind, spirit, relationships, and more. Our motto here at Fundamental Health Solutions is “move right, eat right, think right, live right.” We are multi-faceted beings and every facet is important.

There’s another part of our multi-faceted life that I want to talk about today because it’s one of the biggest areas of stress and pressure in our lives.

It’s not eating junk food (you already know better than to do that).

It’s not lifting too much weight at the gym.

It’s our relationships.

Are Your Relationships Making You Sick?

Stress is destroying our bodies and minds, but so much of it comes from our relationships. Family stress is relationship stress. Job stress is relationship stress. After all, what are you afraid of at work? Missing a deadline, dealing with a pushy boss, listening to complaining customers, avoiding obnoxious coworkers – those are all relationship issues because they involve your interactions with other people.

Go ahead – try to name one work stress that doesn’t involve people in some way. Even work equipment stress is ultimately people stress because that malfunctioning piece of equipment is preventing you from doing a good job and could get you in trouble with…who?


We’ve been looking at success thinking off and on over the last several weeks. I want to take this week’s “Think Right Thursday” to look specifically at how successful people handle relationship issues.

Now, it’s easy to say that there are plenty of rich people who live miserable, lonely lives because they have terrible people skills. We all know of people who fit that stereotype. But notice that I said “successful” people not “rich” people. This is a dichotomy we have to clear up in our minds. Not all successful people are rich and not all rich people are successful, so don’t confuse those terms.

Five Relationship Strategies Of Successful People

Let me share some simple relationship strategies I have observed in my successful friends. I won’t say I’ve mastered these by any means, but I work on making consistent progress.

Successful people take responsibility for their part of the problem.

In any conflict between two people, both people have some fault.

If one has an unreasonable expectation of the other, both parties are at fault for not communicating what was reasonable up front. Everyone has a responsibility to communicate clearly and reasonably in a relationship. At the same time, each person has a right to be heard and honored. You can’t go through life being a “victim” because of other people’s choices, and you can’t go through life being an insensitive bully. If you are constantly being taken advantage of, ask yourself why you continue to hang around people who do that. If you are unreasonable with people, ask yourself why you have the right to be that way.

A friend of mine told me that, when his kids are fighting, he doesn’t ask “what happened,” he asks each person, “what did you do wrong?” Each child has to own up to his own bad choice without blaming the other. If there is conflict, everyone involved has a part in it, even if that part is just that they allowed themselves to be mistreated until they blew up.

Successful people are more interested in honoring the other person and preserving the relationship than being “right.” They confess their part without blaming and they clear it up. I love that.

Taking responsibility (even when you don’t think you’re wrong) also takes the pressure off the other person to defend herself. It defuses a heated confrontation and allows people to let their guard down and take their own responsibility. A gentle answer turns away wrath.

Successful people remember that no one else sees the situation with their eyes.

If you and the other person saw things the same way, there would be no conflict.

The other person has a lifetime of experiences, ideas, prejudices, fears, and pain that filters everything they see…and so do you. Ask questions to find out how the other person is feeling. Be sincere. You may be really hurting them and don’t even know it because you don’t equate your action with their pain. A patient of mine said she screamed at her husband once because he made a casual joke she didn’t like. She knew she had over-reacted, but it hurt so badly because it reminded her of a mean comment her father had repeated to her when she was a child. Of course, her husband could not have known that or meant anything by it, but it triggered a very deep wound in her heart and she reacted to that. Successful people realize that they only know a small piece of any situation.

Successful people treat others with honor and dignity.

The people you fight with have the same Creator you have, and that Creator says they are precious to Him, even if you don’t see it. They are not mistakes, and they are not lower on some value ladder than you are. They have gifts and talents that are different from – and possibly complementary to – yours. They may be strong where you have a weakness (yes, you do have weaknesses). Everyone has value, and everyone wants to be treated with honor. Speak well of others, whether they are nearby or not. If you are known as a gossip, nobody will ever trust you, but if you are known as someone who speaks highly of others, the world will open up to you.

Let people be who they are without judgment. The key is NOT to fix other people but to let their uniqueness shine. You don’t have to agree with them, but you do have to treat them with kindness. If they are in some kind of gross sinful lifestyle that you’re pretty sure is an offense to God, you can be sure that God will deal with them His own way and time, and He doesn’t need you to preach to them. Successful people bring out the BEST in others, and they don’t try to mold others into their own image. If you can’t value what makes people special, you can’t lead. Period. People won’t follow you if they think you don’t value them because they are different. I heard someone say this once and it stuck with me: unity is not conformity; unity is diversity in harmony.

Successful people embrace differences, including different goals, desires, ambitions, and values.

We all have our own motivations in life. I have friends who are motivated by money, fast cars, and big houses. I have other friends who think that lifestyle is shallow and stupid. Some people want to make a difference in the world, while others want to be left alone. Some people think the government should control everything while others want the government to stay out of their affairs. Some people like things very organized, efficient, systematic, and linear…and then there is everyone else.

If you want to be successful with people, you have to care about what motivates them, even if it doesn’t motivate you. Your employees may not be motivated by making lots of money, but they might be motivated by extra time off. Your husband may not be motivated by a confrontation, but he might be motivated by you watching his favorite ball game with him. Your kids might not be motivated by the joy of sitting in an orderly house, but they might produce an orderly house if you motivate them with a game night. Successful people find out what others want and help them get it, even if it doesn’t interest them.

Successful people get themselves out of the way.

I love date pecan coconut nut balls, but when I go fishing with friends out in the Atlantic, I don’t bait the hook with date pecan coconut nut balls. Why not? Because fish are not interested in date pecan coconut nut balls. No, I bait the hook with what motivates a fish, whether it’s live shrimp, worms, or minnows. I don’t personally care for any of these, but I AM NOT THE POINT. The fish is the point. If I want the fish to bite the hook, I serve him what HE loves, not what I love. Get your own likes and dislikes out of the way. Again, if you will help people get what they want, someone will help you get what you want.

I met a guy some years back that made his fortune selling cleaning supplies. Do you think he woke up every morning motivated by a passion for cleaning supplies? Not at all. But he knew that there were plenty of people who pay handsomely for good cleaning supplies, so he identified a real need and made his fortune filling it. He found satisfaction in helping them in a small way.

The whole mantra of pursuing your passion is really kind of silly if you think about it this way. Nobody outside of you really cares about your passion, and unless it’s something they want, they certainly won’t pay you for it. Ever heard of a “starving artist?” Success comes from helping other people, not from chasing after your personal passion. Find a need and fill that need. If you can find some satisfaction and pleasure in the work you choose, hooray for you, but that’s not the point. Serving other people is the point.

These Strategies Work (Almost) 100% of the Time.

I have one massive caveat for this, and it’s important if we want to have a complete understanding of how to have healthy relationships:

You can’t control people.

No matter how nice, sweet, kind, and professional you are, you can’t control what others think, say, or do, but you can control yourself and how you interact with people. I cannot promise you that these strategies will always settle all your conflicts. People are people, and they have their own self-will, emotional baggage, and priorities. But, by and large, people will respond positively if you will treat them with honor, respect, and value.

What Is Your Definition of Success?

Everyone has their own definition of success in this life, but every definition requires healthy interactions with other people at some point. You can’t get rich, save the world, maintain an efficient organization, or have fun in life without being able to relate to people.

If this was helpful to you, I hope you’ll share it. That would be helpful to me and probably at least one of your Facebook friends. This could end up being a good day for all of us.

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.”  — Eric Thomas

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