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Active Constructive Responding Strengthens Relationships

by Beth on June 6th, 2013

In a previous post I talked about the value of celebrating other people’s good news. The best way to respond when something good happens to someone we care about is with active constructive responding. This is when we respond enthusiastically and show genuine interest by asking them to give us more details. This type of responding can really help to strengthen relationships.

Other ways of responding can make it more difficult to build close relationships. They include:

  • Active destructive responding – With this type of responding we acknowledge what the other person has said, but then add something negative. Imagine someone telling you their daughter was just accepted to a great college and you say, “Wow, it’s going to be hard having her move so far away! Couldn’t she have picked a school closer to home?”.
  • Passive constructive responding – When responding in this way we give a less than enthusiastic response like, “that’s great”, and then continue on our way or start talking about something else.
  • Passive destructive responding – This is when we respond by saying something completely unrelated to what we were just told. We basically ignore what the person has said by changing the subject.

I’m certainly guilty of responding in not-so-constructive ways. I don’t do it on purpose, but maybe I do feel a little jealous that my friend’s daughter got into Stanford. And let’s face it, I have so many other things going on that I often just don’t feel I have the time to stop and ask to hear more. Sound familiar? Whatever the reason, each time we fail to respond in an active constructive way, we’ve lost an opportunity to connect with someone and show we really do care about his or her happiness.

The next time someone shares something positive with you, however small, pay attention to how you respond. Make an effort to show your enthusiasm and take the time to listen to their story.

2 Comments
  1. Suzy Howell permalink

    We’ve been struggling with this a lot lately, trying to find the positivity in the ongoing restructuring and reorganization at work. Down 50 staff since November, we are happy when someone doesn’t get laid off and is instead transferred to a position that was vacant and had not been filled because no vacancies are being filled. It’s a tough environment and we have to search hard for the good news among our remaining colleagues.

  2. Beth permalink

    I’m so sorry, Suzy, I thought things would be getting better! Hoping they do soon! In the meantime, stay focused on what you can control, like the way you choose to respond to the craziness. I know it isn’t easy, but it can help. Try to be mindful, hopeful and grateful for all that is good! Sending positive vibes your way!

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