How do you typically respond when someone shares good news with you?
Suppose a colleague or friend shares news about their awesome summer road trip. Which of these responses are you most likely to choose?
- Say “Hmph!” and turn away.
- Say “ Gee that sounds like way too much time at the wheel, cooped up in a car with the kids. I bet it was exhausting, putting on all those miles!” while frowning and shaking your head.
- Say “Heh, good for you!” showing little or no emotion.
- Say “I’m delighted your vacation went so well. I know how much you were looking forward to it. Let’s have lunch so you can fill me in on the details!” while smiling and maintaining eye contact.
All the responses have positive or negative consequences for your relationship, and option 4 stands the best chance of building it up.
In her research on relationships, Shelley Gable from the University of California, has learned that the quality of your reaction can make a huge difference and contribute directly to either strengthening or diminishing the relationship. She describes four categories of replies. As per the examples above:
What makes the Active/Constructive response so powerful? It’s attentive, encouraging, positive, and keeps the spotlight directly on the person with the good news story to share.
Action: The next time someone at work or at home shares their good news with you, make an effort to choose an Active/Constructive response.
- Bring your non verbal focus (eye contact, body orientation, attention) to the speaker.
- Express your enthusiasm in words and in spirit showing your genuine interest.
- Invite them to share more details about the triumph or success.
Why tear things down, when it’s so easy to build them up?
Quote Of The Week:
“Make yourself a blessing to someone. Your kind smile or pat on the back just might pull someone back from the edge.” – Carmelia Elliott
“Tell me to what you pay attention, and I will tell you who you are.” – Jose Ortega y Gasset
Resource Of The Week:
Here’s a link to a brief article on Gable’s work along with a table that gives another example of the range of responses.
Here’s a link to a Worksheet on Active/Constructive Responding.