Have you ever been excited about something that’s happened and then been disappointed when you shared your good news with others? They didn’t share your excitement, seem interested, or didn’t ‘get’ how important it was to you?
When it comes to relationships, it turns out that how we respond to other people’s good news is as important as how we respond to their bad news.
Research shows a strong correlation between the quality of a relationship and the way the participants respond to each other’s good news. How you respond to others can build up or undermine the relationship – even if you don’t say something negative.
When good things happen, we typically share the news about the positive event with someone else. This is a process called capitalisation.
Capitalising amplifies the pleasure of the good situation and contributes to an upward spiral of positive emotions and wellbeing. The problem is, the positive effects of capitalisation are dependent upon the responses of the people with whom the events are shared.
These are the four ways we can respond to someone else’s good news…
1. Active constructive
2. Passive constructive
3. Active destructive
4. Passive destructive
Active and constructive responses involve showing genuine interest in the good event being described and being excited and happy for the other person. These responses communicate that you understand why it’s important to them and that you are interested in what happens to them.
In contrast, passive or destructive responses communicate that you either don’t understand it’s importance to them or you don’t care about their thoughts, emotions or life.
Here’s an example of possible responses to someone’s good news about a promotion…
Active-Constructive: “Wow, that’s great news! I know how important it was to you. Let’s have lunch to celebrate and you can tell me all about it.”
Passive-Constructive: “That’s nice.”
Active-Destructive: “Wow, that sounds like a lot of responsibility to take on. Can you handle it? Maybe no-one else wanted it!”
Passive-Destructive: “You won’t believe what happened to me today!”
Responding in an active and constructive way is a great way to build a new relationship or strengthen an existing one. Here are some simple steps to get you started…
1. Stop and listen. Really listen. Often we get so caught up with the task at hand or our own thoughts that we don’t listen properly. As a result, we miss cues and miss opportunities to really connect and share the joy with the other person.
2. Ask questions about the situation. Seek to find out more – how the situation arose, how it unfolded, and how they feel about it.
3. Stay focused on them. This is not the time to tell them what similar thing happened to you. Enjoy their enjoyment with them.
How could you use Active Constructive Responding to build your relationships at work and at home?