• When I make my first million?
  • When I get married?
  • When I have my first child?
  • When I buy my dream home?
  • When I get promoted?
  • When I become CEO?
  • Will you be therefore me?

Fill in the blank with whatever positive event has occurred in your life and ask yourself if those that you love and cherish will be there to support and celebrate your triumphs and good fortune when things go right.

It’s not a question that we typically ask ourselves. Rather, we are often focused on whether or not people will be there in our time of need.

We tend to be more satisfied with our relationships when we believe that our partners have our backs. In fact, the very perception that we have a social network to turn to during difficult times shields us from the harmful effects of stressful life events.

However, it turns out that how we respond to our loved ones “good news” has important implications for the health and wellbeing of our relationships.

How do you respond to a loved one’s good news?

Are you supportive and enthusiastic?

Do you ask questions about the event?

Do you inquire about the details?

For instance, let’s say your partner comes home and tells you that she was promoted. Do you:

A. Ask detailed questions about the promotion? Where was she when told of the good news? Who was she with? Ask what the boss specifically said, the very words he used when she found out of her advancement?

B. Dismissively state, “that’s nice honey”.

C. Express your concerns over the additional stress that comes with a promotion, along with the longer work hours.

D. Dismiss her achievement and ask “what’s for dinner”?

I am sure it will come as no surprise to learn that the best response for your relationship is option A.

Nothing good will come of demeaning, dismissing or devaluing the event. In fact, experts would argue, and I am sure you would agree, such responses serve to erode the quality of the relationship and negatively influence wellbeing.

Researchers, Gable, Gonzaga and Strachman refer to option A as active, constructive responding.

Their studies reveal that partners who engage in this mode of communication reap the rewards of greater intimacy, trust, love, commitment and relationship satisfaction. They also report having more fun, engage in fewer daily conflicts and pursue more relaxing activities with one another.

These researchers reason that active, constructive responding creates opportunities for people to display support, convey understanding, and validate one’s feelings.

While this may not seem like rocket science or earth shattering news, it can alter your relationships with your colleagues, friends, family or significant others.

So the next time your friend, spouse or colleague shares good news, relive the experience with them by asking detailed questions about how the event unfolded, what was said, and what this means for them. You will both reap the benefits of positive emotions and a stronger relationship.

Be there for your people when things go right.

To your success!

Dr. Gill