There are four ways to respond to someone sharing good news, and only one is correct.
Let’s say someone tells you they just got a new job. Here are a few ways you could respond:
Passive Destructive: Huh, yeah, well I got a new job the other day (turns focus inward, ignores speaker)
Passive Constructive: Oh, that’s cool. Good for you. (low energy, delayed response, quiet)
Active Destructive: Yikes, that’s going to be hard. Are you sure you’re ready for that? You can hardly manage having a family! (quashing the event, dismissive, demeaning).
None of these responses enhance the relationship. There is only one way that happens, which is active constructive responding, which would sound like this:
Active Constructive: “Ah, that’s great! Congratulations! When do you start? How did it happen? I want more details!”
In this scenario, there’s enthusiastic support, eye contact, and authentic interest. Of course, different people will embody an active constructive response in different ways that are authentic to them.
When someone shares something important and you respond in a way that is active constructive, it develops trust, it augments the positive event for both parties, and makes the person more likely to share positive things with you in the future. Research also suggests that the benefits of amplifying the good for a person are greater than the benefits of mitigating the bad.
So next time someone shares good news with you, check to see what your default style of responding is. Even if you think it’s not worthy of a positive response, it’s important for the person to learn that you are someone they feel comfortable and excited to share things with.