Minding Our Response to Good News
Why supporting others when things are going right is just as important as when things are going wrong
Have you ever told someone really exciting news, maybe you got a promotion, moved in with your significant other or got into graduate school, and their response was a little ‘meh’? These are events you thought were going to warrant lots of excitement and positive feedback but sometimes the response you get can fall flat. We’ve all been here and it can be really disappointing. Let’s talk about why.
For many of us, myself included, when we think of the times we need support we jump to tough situations where we need someone to lean on or vent to. While this is true and an important aspect of close relationships, the way that people respond to positive news is equally important as their response to bad news.
So, what happens when things in your life are going well? Recently one of my friends shared that she landed an exciting new job. My friends and I were all excited for her and during our get together we were congratulating her, asking questions about the job and company, But one of our friends was noticeably quiet during the whole interaction — she didn't say anything and it was as if she was actively trying to ignore it and move on.
My friend could have reacted this way for a number of reasons, maybe she was a little envious of our friends new found success, or a fear that their friendship will change, but it’s important to keep in mind that the way we respond to people has a big impact on how the event is perceived and the relationship between the two parties.
Typically, there are four ways to respond to news & events:
Active-constructive is showing enthusiastic support for the person and their news. You are sharing in the person’s excitement, asking questions and showing support.
Example — “Jen, that is so exciting! Where is the new job? What’s the position? Where is your new office?”
Passive-constructive is showing quiet, understated support for the person and their news, but no engagement like asking questions or getting more details.
Example — “Congratulations, Jen! I am happy for you”
Active-destructive is actively demeaning the event and not showing support.
Example — “I’ve heard that company is terrible to work for” or “Well it’s about time, you’ve been looking for a new job forever”
Passive-destructive is ignoring the event completely.
Examples could be saying nothing or changing the conversation to another topic with no acknowledgement of the news.
As you can probably guess, active-constructive responses are the best to give and receive. We’ve all felt the warmth of shared genuine happiness over great news, but understanding the why is not always clear. Here’s what happens when someone gives active-constructive feedback in response to positive news:
Active-constructive feedback validates that the event being shared is indeed significant and important. Basically, this is affirming that the emotions the person is feeling are worthwhile and valid.
When a person shares exciting news and gets an active-constructive response, it shows that the person responding knows you and understands why the news is important to you.
Positive responses, especially active-constructive responses, show that the relationship between the person sharing the information and the person receiving the information is close and important.
These three components are all central parts of developing and maintaining relationships with our loved ones. So, when we think about our reactions and connections with others, it’s important to be mindful of how we are responding to and supporting, both negative AND positive news from our loved ones.
Thanks for reading!