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Active, Constructive Responding

2017-08-22T15:58:31+00:00 16 May, 2013|Tags: , , |

“People will forget what you did. They will forget what you said. But they won’t forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

How do you usually respond when someone tells you about something good that happened to them? Do you say “That’s great!” while hurrying on to your next meeting? If so, you are missing out on an opportunity to build relationships.

Research shows that how we respond to others in good times is as important for building relationships as how we react to negative events.

Celebrate the Positive

Communicating positive events increases our well-being. And when others respond enthusiastically to our news, we feel even better!

Last month we talked about the positivity tipping point. People who experience at least three times as many positive emotions as negative emotions are more likely to flourish.

Active, constructive responding is a great way to help others feel good and boost our own mood at the same time.

Here’s how it works.

Responding actively and constructively is more than just saying “that’s nice” when someone shares a positive event. It involves showing interest and asking questions to help the person relive their positive experience.

Imagine a colleague tells you his proposal was accepted by a new customer. An active and constructive response might be:

“That’s great! I know you put a lot of time into that proposal and it sure paid off. Did the customer say why you got the business?”

Try This At Work (and at Home)!

Then next time someone tells you about something good that happened to them, take extra time to respond actively and constructively (the slower, the better). Write down your response and also how they react to your response. Try this for a week. Research by Shelly Gable and colleagues shows that the result will be improved relationships and better moods.

Other Person’s Event:

My Response to Them:

Their Reaction: 

Professor Shelly Gable on the power of active, constructive responding in relationships:

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0

Mark Milotich

Mark Milotich is an authority on leadership and personal change. He has been energizing audiences and inspiring leaders for over 20 years. His no-nonsense approach translates research in the behavioral sciences into practices that leaders at all levels can use. Mark is founding and managing partner at Claxus GmbH, an international consulting network headquartered in Switzerland.

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