Skip to main content

How You Respond to Good News Matters in Relationships

When good fortune knocks, our first response is often to contact significant others to share the news. Sharing of good news with others promotes well-being by enhancing positive emotions and life satisfaction (Gable et al., 2004). However, this also depends on how you actually respond to the good news. Gable and colleagues elaborate that people respond to their partner’s sharing of good news in four different ways. Below is an exercise to gauge what your partner’s response to your sharing of good news is (or what your response is being perceived by your partner) (Gable et al., 2004):

"Please take a moment to consider how your partner responds when you tell him or her about something good that has happened to you. For example, imagine that you come home and tell your partner about receiving a promotion at work, having a great conversation with a family member, getting a raise, winning a prize, or doing well on an exam at school or a project at work. Please consider to what extent your partner does the following things (bulleted items below) in response to your good fortune".

1. Active-Constructive Response:
  • My partner usually reacts to my good fortune enthusiastically 
  • I sometimes get the sense that my partner is even more happy and excited than I am 
  • My partner often asks a lot of questions and shows genuine concern about the good event 
2. Passive-Constructive Response:
  • My partner tries not to make a big deal out of it but is happy for me 
  • My partner is usually silently supportive of the good things that occur to me
  • My partner says little, but I know he/she is happy for me 
3. Active-destructive Response: 
  • My partner often finds a problem with it 
  • My partner reminds me that most good things have their bad aspects as well 
  • He/she points out the potential down sides of the good event 
4. Passive-Destructive:
  • Sometimes I get the impression that he/she doesn’t care much 
  • My partner doesn’t pay much attention to me 
  • My partner often seems disinterested 
This exercise will help you recognize your partner’s (or your) predominant responding style to good news. For a couple of weeks, you can also track your own responses to good news shared by someone close to you. Research shows that only active-constructive responses are associated with commitment, satisfaction, intimacy, and trust in a relationship (Gable et al., 2004). Even passive-constructive responses are not helpful in relationships. You can extend active-constructive responses to other people who share their good fortune with you – relatives, friends, and coworkers. Of course, use common sense when the news that is good to the person delivering is not exactly music to your ears. You obviously don’t want to respond with enthusiasm when your partner tells you that they have found someone else to marry!

To learn more about evidence-based self-management techniques that are proven to work for depression, check out Dr. Duggal's Author Page.



Gable, S. L., Reis, H. T., Impett, E. A., & Asher, E. R. (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(2), 228-245.


Popular posts from this blog

11 Types of Irrational Thoughts that Fuel Depression

People with depression often have negative or irrational beliefs, which continue to fuel their depressive thinking. According to the cognitive model of depression, the emotions in depression such as sadness, guilt, hopelessness, worthlessness, helplessness, anger, frustration, and anxiety are triggered by a dysfunctional thought process. This dysfunction involves misinterpretation or misattribution of situations, past events, memories, and even feelings leading to irrational thoughts – also called cognitive distortions – that in turn perpetuate depressive symptoms. These irrational thought patterns are described below:

1. All-or-None Thinking: This type of irrational thinkingis also called black-and-white thinking or dichotomous thinking. This is thinking in extremes or absolutes with no consideration for any alternatives in between the extremes. For example, if you get a below-average performance evaluation and feel that you will never get a good performance evaluation in the future, …

The 8 Types of Guilt in Depression

“Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt or inappropriate guilt” is one of the nine core symptoms of major depressive disorder according to the American Psychiatric Association. Guilt can be an adaptive emotion when it is appropriate to context, is not excessive, is based on altruism (acting with an unselfish regard for others), and serves the purpose of maintaining attachments. However, in depression, guilt tends to be exaggerated or is inappropriate (not relevant to context) and is called maladaptive guilt. Maladaptive guilt presents in depression in one or more of the eight types as described below:

1. Survivor guilt: Survivor guilt first gained attention when survivors from the concentration camps of World War II were noted to harbor feelings of guilt for the loved ones who were killed in the camps. These survivors, years later, developed symptoms of depression and anxiety. Besides combat and natural disasters, survivor guilt has also been observed in medical situations. Peo…

4 Types of Criticism and How to Handle Them

If you are human, you will be on the receiving end of criticism. Criticism can be helpful, especially if it provides you feedback for improvement whereas at other times it is tantamount to bullying. Therefore, criticism needs to be handled depending on its type (Lazarus & Lazarus, 2000).
1. Irrelevant criticism: This kind of criticism comes from an individual who is critical of everyone or everything to the extent that they would make critical comments about something that is totally out of context and not relevant to the situation. For example, you are talking to your neighbor about an upcoming vacation you are planning and in the midst of your conversation, your neighbor states “….by the way you appear to be gaining weight.” Irrelevant criticism doesn’t deserve your response and is best ignored. Say, “OK, I appreciate you letting me know” and shift back to the conversation on hand.
2. Vague criticism: In this type of criticism, you are not sure if the person criticizing you is tr…