Psychology and basic common sense tell us that there are certain ways to communicate that are more beneficial than others. If you care about their emotions, you have to respond enthusiastically to their good news. It shows them how much you care.
Shelly Gable believes there are 4 main response styles.
Which one do you use most often?
Active Destructive Mode: If the other person says “Hey! Are you sitting down? I got was the company’s top salesperson of the month! I got a HUGE bonus!” your response to them might be something like:
That job is beneath you! I don’t see why you’re so happy about it. You should be the manager by now.
You’re tearing down their accomplishment and stomping all over it. Your words are saying they should be above where they are. Your sentiment is telling them their hard work doesn’t matter.
Passive Destructive Mode: No matter what they say, you flip the conversation to be about yourself. It may be something like this:
Ok. Man, I had the day from Hell today. Let me tell you about it. First my boss…
You seem completely uninterested and uncaring. You are your only concern. And quite possibly a narcissist. Do yourself and the other person a favor, care about them. It isn’t too hard and you might actually make things better for both of you.
Passive Constructive Mode: Your response to their good news is weak and unenthusiastic. It may sound something like:
That’s good. Did you remember to pick up the dry cleaning on your way home?
What did they just tell you, that they remembered to pick up the milk? You’re happy for them but you’re not at all excited. You are obviously more concerned with something else. Hopefully you don’t respond to really good news like this.
Active Constructive Mode: When they say “Hey! Are you sitting down? I got was the company’s top salesperson of the month! I got a HUGE bonus!” You reply by saying something more like:
Congrats! You’ve been working hard lately and it’s paying off! Want to go out and celebrate? You got the raise and I’ll buy!
Using the Active Constructive Mode is the best way to respond to good news. And it’s the only way to make them feel even better about their accomplishment. The active constructive mode shows that you’re supporting them. And that’s the kind of thing that helps relationships grow.
Use of the Active Constructive Mode doesn’t have to be limited to just your spouse or family. Use it with your friends, coworkers, and people you meet at the coffee shop.
Any time someone else has good news, respond enthusiastically. And pay attention to how they react. I’ll bet that it makes a huge difference not only in your close relationships but you’ll probably start making new friends as well.
And if you’re the person receiving the lackluster response, maybe you could try using this a bit more in your relationship. It’s entirely possible that the other person can eventually be won over by your enthusiasm for what they accomplish. If your relationship is a bit cool, maybe you can be the one to warm it up.