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How do you respond to good news?

Have you ever shared really good news with someone, only to have them respond negatively or ignore you completely? Not only is it a complete buzzkill to your mood and dampens whatever goods news you shared, but it can be detrimental to your relationship with that person.

We're all guilty of this—we're only human!

I remember times when I've brushed off my child's energetic presentation of an incomplete cartwheel or I've been so eager to share my own good news that I interrupt a friend's news. And although it's not done purposefully, responding in this way can negatively impact your relationships.

Theoretical framework presented by psychologist Shelly Gable states that there are 4 ways we respond to good news, represented below in this matrix from Human Performance Technology.

The example above is of a wife sharing the good news of a promotion with her husband, but can work with any example, ie. reaching a professional milestone, sharing details of a fantastic date, or sharing excitement around shaving a few seconds off of an average run pace.

  • active–constructive (e.g., enthusiastic support)

  • passive–constructive (e.g., quiet, understated support)

  • active–destructive (e.g., demeaning the event)

  • passive–destructive (e.g., ignoring the event).

Can you think of examples where you've been met with a demeaning response in reply to your good news? Can you think of a time when a friend has show enthusiastic support? I can think of a few personal examples and they are completely different experiences and elicit polar opposite emotions when I think back on them!

According to Gable, "Active and constructive responding is the most effective way to respond, giving both the deliverer of good news and the listener a positive outcome." I'll share some of those positive outcomes with you next week! Until then, take notice of the different responses you receive (and give!) in your everyday life.


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