Imagine that you have some good news that you want to share. Who comes to mind that you want to tell immediately? Who do you joyfully anticipate seeing so you can tell the news? Who would you delay sharing it with? Why do you think you delay?
Many relationships are made stronger, deeper, more satisfying, by the way in which good news is shared.
Shelly Gable, Ph.D., associate professor of social psychology at the University of Santa Barbara, is doing innovative research on relationships. One aspect explored: what happens when people tell good news? Dr. Gable reports that telling good news boosts overall mood and well-being, as we might expect----yet isn't it good to get confirmation for things we might easily overlook? Another finding is that particular responses to the good news are far better than others. In fact, she has found that the ways a relationship deals with positive events is a better predictor of the future of the relationship than how negative events are dealt with. The best response, briefly, is to be enthusiastic and supportive.
Isn't this useful, wise? It rings of intuitive truth, when we stop and think about our own experiences---both in giving and receiving good news. The research has so far focused on stable individuals and relationships, finding out what works. Best part of all this? There's every indication that giving good responses to good news is a skill that can be increased, taught and learned with practice and attention.
So think about a situation with a spouse, a significant other, a good friend, a parent, a young adult child. This person, dear to you, comes to you with good news. What is the best response to give? First of all, it is not to point out the downside or potential pitfalls, just to be sure he or she will be sure to be aware, notice such things. Ah, this is tempting to do sometimes, isn't it? But there is time for such discussions later, if need be. In the moment, what is important is the deep attention to this beloved person, to be engaged, focused, getting the whole story, matching energy and to celebrate. To be supportive, delighted, pleased---but most of all, in the present and truly "with" the other. These are actions that build closeness, and potentially bring out the best in ourselves and others.