In this article, I want to highlight three positive characteristics and encourage you to make them each a priority in your life. As you can see from the title, this list is not brand new information—it’s a reminder to focus on the basics when it comes to building and deepening relationships. I want to challenge you to always be gentle, always be honest, and always be loving. I understand that’s asking a lot, especially by adding the word “always” in there! Obviously, we’ll all fall short of living up to this standard, but it’s still an important goal to have.
People who are gentle keep their temper in check and work to make sure that their words and tone are aimed toward building people up rather than tearing them down. It’s easy to think of gentleness as passivity, but that’s not the case. It takes more intentionality, but it’s absolutely possible to correct or critique someone or something in a gentle way. Gentleness is more about coming at things with the goal of being helpful than it is about always being in complete agreement with everybody.
People who are honest make sure that their words and actions line up. They also make sure that what they say to one person is in alignment with what they say to somebody else. Living a life that is characterized by honesty means that people can trust and rely on you. It means that they know you will follow through on what you say you’ll do and that you’ll say the same things behind their back that you say to their face. Honesty builds trust, which helps grow your relationships.
People who are loving genuinely want the best for other people. Being loving doesn’t mean that you are never confrontational or involved in any conflict. It actually means that your ultimate goal is the good of the people around you, and that means there will be times when you’re willing to address hard topics and stick with challenging conversations. Think about some of the toughest moments that you’ve worked through with your wife, kids, or siblings. I bet those conversations ended up bringing you closer to one another and helped you each understand the other on a deeper level.
If you work on being more gentle, honest, and loving, it will improve every single one of your relationships! You won’t do it perfectly, just like you don’t expect the people around you to do it perfectly. But if you make it your goal to grow in these three areas, the people around you will benefit. They might not notice immediately, but they will as time goes on—and they’ll appreciate it.