You just aced that last work presentation, confirmed an interview for the role that has been vacant for a long time, and something you ordered months ago is finally set to ship (thanks supply chain). Overall, you are feeling pretty great. As you log off from work, you call your partner to share the news and they say “cool, but what are we having for dinner tonight?” While it may seem small, your partners’ accidentally and likely unconsciously minimizes your feelings of joy in the moment.
There is a prevailing assumption that one of the fundamental purposes of relationships is to provide support in times of hardship, but research has shown that the way we show up for those we care about for positive events might have as significant, or more impact on overall well-being for all parties.
Researchers who study this phenomena coined the term active constructive responding, or simply put, how we respond when someone shares good experiences or information. Traditionally, people respond in one of four ways:
1. Passive Destructive usually involves disinterest, change of topic, a focus inward on themselves, or ignoring.
Example: Changing the topic to “What’s for dinner?” or “Guess what happened to me today?”
2. Passive Constructive is characterized by somewhat uninterested engagement and little enthusiasm.
Example: “That’s nice.” or “Neat.”
3. Active Destructive actively points out the problems associated with the ‘good’ news and creates doubt and concern about the scenario. This can lead to shutting down any enthusiasm.
Example: “Wow, are you sure you want to do that? Have you considered the risks?”
4. Active Constructive enthusiastically supports the good news and asks questions that help to almost re-experience the moment.
Example: “That’s amazing, I’m so happy for you – tell me how you felt when you found out!”
Next time your partner shares good news, actively think about the way you want to respond. While it might feel like a slight shift, it can have a drastic impact on the quality and satisfaction of your relationship, in addition to both of your overall mental health and well-being. Your partner in the opening scenario might be responding in a passive and destructive way, which can impact your sense of well-being.
Care to learn more, explore this article on Active Constructive Responding.
*If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health, request an appointment with one of our professional mental health providers at Diversus Health today. If you need immediate assistance, call our crisis hotline at 844-493-8255, or text ‘TALK’ to 38255.