How Do You Respond to Good News?

How many of you have heard some good news recently?  How did you respond to it?  Seems like an odd question, but did you know that what distinguishes good and poor relationships is not how you respond to disappointments, but how you respond to good news?  That means that there is a right way and a wrong way to respond when you hear good news.  The best way is called “active constructive responding,” and researcher Shelly Gable created a matrix showing the different response styles. 

Here is an example of the different response styles using the good news of a job promotion:


Active and Constructive

“That is great.  I know how important that promotion was to you!  We should go out and celebrate and you can tell me what excites you most about your new job.” (Nonverbal communication: maintaining eye contact, displays of positive emotion, such as genuine smiling, touching and laughing)

Passive and Constructive

“That is good news.” (Nonverbal communication: little to no active emotional expression)

Active and Destructive

“That sounds like a lot of responsibility to take on.  There will probably be more stress involved in the new position and longer hours at the office.” (Nonverbal communication: displays of negative emotions, such as a furrowed brow and frowning)

Passive and Destructive

“What are we doing on Friday night?” (Nonverbal communication: little to no eye contact, turning away, and leaving the room)


THE CHALLENGE: When you receive good news this week, keep track of how often your response is active and constructive.  If you find that you fall into one of the other categories, challenge yourself to be more active and constructive.  You just might find your relationships improving because of it!


Gable, S. L., Reis, H. T., Asher, E. R., and Impett, E. A. (2004). What do you do when things go right?: The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 228-245.)

Gable, S. L., Gonzaga, G. C., and Strachman, A. (2006). Will you be there for me when things go right?: Supportive responses to positive event disclosures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(5), 904-917.



I’ll take the challenge!

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