In the realm of positive psychology, there exists a remarkable tool that holds the potential to not only strengthen relationships but also to improve them significantly. Referred to as the “Active Constructive Response,” this concept is the brainchild of Dr. Shelley Gable, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Through her extensive study of relationships spanning several decades, Dr. Gable has unearthed a fascinating truth: the manner in which people respond to each other’s positive news carries more weight than their reactions to negative news. This insight underscores the importance of the active constructive response in fostering deeper connections and enhancing overall well-being.
When someone shares good news, their expectation of the response plays a pivotal role in their emotional experience. Dr. Gable’s research reveals that an adept response to positive news can lead to a sense of celebration, value, and increased closeness. Furthermore, this response fosters trust, not only benefiting the recipient but also contributing to the well-being of the person delivering the response. The implication is clear: understanding and mastering the active constructive response can profoundly impact relationships and individual happiness.
The Types of Responses
Dr. Gable’s work categorizes responses to positive news into four distinct types, each with its own implications for relationships:
In this type of response, the recipient acknowledges the positive news but fails to truly engage with it. Instead of actively celebrating or showing enthusiasm, they might offer a distracted or half-hearted acknowledgment. For example, a response like, “That’s great,” falls into this category. While not intentionally dismissive, passive constructive responses miss the opportunity to fully connect with the sharer’s joy.
2. Passive Destructive Response
In this type of response, the listener changes the focus from the person giving the good news back to themselves. For example, if someone shares “I lost 5 pounds” and your response is “I lost 8 pounds! And I’m feeling so active and fit.” Responses of this nature rob the person of their good news story which can leave the sharer feeling unheard and their joy overshadowed.
3. Active Destructive Response
In this type of response, the recipient’s reaction is tainted by personal concerns or reservations. Rather than celebrating the good news, they may express doubts or worries, inadvertently dampening the sharer’s enthusiasm. An example could be responding to a friend’s exciting kayaking trip plans with concerns about the dangers involved.
4. Active Constructive Response
The pinnacle of positive responses, the active constructive response, transforms a mere acknowledgment into a genuine celebration. Implementing the active constructive response in our interactions requires conscious effort and a shift in perspective. Here are the important elements of the Active Constructive Resonse:
Be Present: Pause what you’re doing, make eye contact, and give your undivided attention to the person sharing the news.
Show Genuine Happiness: Express authentic joy for their news, allowing your positivity to shine through.
Ask Questions: Inquire further to show that you’re genuinely interested in their experience. This helps validate their feelings and deepen the conversation.
Celebrate Together: Join in their celebration wholeheartedly, sharing in their happiness and creating a stronger bond.
Overcoming Personal Reservations
A common concern is whether one can genuinely respond positively when personal circumstances might trigger negative emotions. The key here is to prioritize the relationship over individual feelings. While it’s natural to experience jealousy or resentment, focusing on the shared connection and the other person’s happiness can help overcome these emotions. If genuine positivity is elusive, it might be best to withhold a response rather than inadvertently diminishing the sharer’s experience.
The power of the active constructive response is undeniable. Its ability to swiftly and significantly enhance relationships has been demonstrated in various contexts, even within corporate environments. The simple act of responding actively and constructively for as little as 30 seconds can lead to remarkable transformations in team dynamics and overall corporate culture.
In a world where genuine human connections are increasingly valued, the active constructive response emerges as a beacon of hope. Dr. Shelley Gable’s research illuminates the path towards fostering stronger bonds and creating a positive impact on individual well-being. By incorporating this approach into our interactions, we not only celebrate the triumphs of others but also contribute to our own happiness and the vitality of our relationships. So, the next time someone shares good news, remember the transformative potential of an active, constructive response—it’s a small investment with profound rewards.
Remember, in a world of connections, your response matters.
The workshop is very dynamic and time flies. It definitely gave me more consciousness of what I think, I feel, do and how I can do a much better job. The content is powerful and so are the exercises and resources provided. I do think that this is the first step to a happier, fulfilling life. I would love to take more workshops about this subject. Thank you Louisa so much for this opportunity. I had the best 6 weeks.
I love your video blogs and your recent talk to entrepreneurs you have a way of distilling the science into real actionable interventions. Also the talk you did re contingent self esteem was a Wow and my clients have really benefitted from learning about it. You take the ivory tower to main street. I also really admire your authenticity and use of self. You are an exemplar.”
Thank you very much for taking the time to present to us here at Sterling Hall on Tuesday. I have had numerous teachers, parents, and administrators say what an incredible session it was. All of our brains are brimming with programming and activities we can implement both at home and at school to help our students and children realize their character strengths and use them to help build their resiliency. So, thank you again.
After spending years studying the roots of confidence, Louisa Jewell offers a toolkit for building and rebuilding it.
Thank you for a great course! It was a wonderful class – full of useful and thought-provoking information. And, I liked the balance of classroom learning (which I love) and some exercises to apply what we talk about. You are also able to handle all sorts of questions well. I was so curious – I hope I did not bombard you with too many questions as I was loving what we discussed and wanted to learn more! Kudos to you on your continued success with all the work you do. Warm Regards and continued success – it is well-deserved.
I loved Louisa Jewell’s Flourishing 101 workshop series. I learned so much about happiness, positivity and how to increase both. I have so many new tools to use and am able to refer to them whenever I need to. It’s been extremely useful and I recommend it to anyone!
The flourishing 101 course was an eye opener. When you look for the positive around you, guess what you actually find more of the positive. It?s the power of intention. I discovered how I could use my top strengths to create more success in my personal life and career. Sometimes what we are naturally good at we take for granted. This course will change how you interact with others and bring more positivity
Thank you again so much for the excellent session! It is so valuable and pertinent and, as I mentioned at the beginning, theoretically grounded and also practical – a rare and wonderful combination.
Thank you again for another great webinar. You and Shannon are both so engaging. It is rare in a webinar to actually feel that we are all in the room together. Somehow you both pull it off with your deep knowledge, warmth and energy. Your sessions offer a lot of value. The content is clear and compelling, and the exercises are highly relevant and immediately useful. I’m really enjoying taking the time to immerse myself in this more fully. I have taken webinar courses from other organizations and they could learn a thing or two from you and Shannon about effective webinars! You are doing important work. Nicely done.
Louisa has the unique ability to engage a diverse audience with her expertise, humour and engaging style. As our key note speaker she enlightened the audience on the science of happiness and how happiness effects our well-being. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive; guests were inspired and delighted to listen to such a knowledgeable professional about a topic that everyone craves to know more about. I would recommend Louisa as a key note speaker, she is truly one of a kind!
Let me just say WOW, WOW, WOW!!! You are a pleasure and a joy! Everybody loved your presentation, your warmth, kindness, approachability, and collaborative approach! Thank you so much for a phenomenal conference. The afternoon portion was also fantastic and more intimate which was really lovely, and it got all of us to breathe and connect more with one another. I cannot wait until our next opportunity to meet again, it was a very moving and concrete presentation, you are a natural and your delivery is so very genuine!
Plain and simply speaking, you were a hit! Your morning keynote address set a meaningful, happy, and upbeat tone for the rest of the conference. Our staff responded to your presentation style and message because it is what we needed to hear and feel at this time. We are a great College, with great staff, and May is the end of a full and active year of classes and programs, successes and challenges. Thank you for helping to make our conference a great success.
Louisa was my instructor for The Flourishing Center’s CAPP (Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology) course held in Toronto Canada. She was excellent in her delivery and included many different approaches to teaching and learning which helped me retain the information better than any other course I have taken. Her enthusiasm and commitment to her work is an inspiration and she is brilliant at what she does. Thank you Louisa for opening up the world to brand new possibilities for me. You are a gem in the world of positive psychology and beyond!!!!
You can’t help but feel better about yourself after spending some time with Louisa. Her energy and enthusiasm is infectious, mix that with her engaging teaching style and you have the ideal learning environment for anyone interested in positive psychology. I have been blessed to learn from Louisa in a classroom and conference setting and I can honestly say that she has changed my life.
Timely and well-written, Jewell helps translate complex research into a book that is understandable, practical, and vital for not just surviving the modern world, but remaking it. Amidst all the competition, demands upon our time, and societal pressure, Jewell provides a clear path forward, not only for you but for girls and women everywhere striving to define success and worth for themselves.
#1 NY Times bestselling author, Happy for No Reason and Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul
Wire Your Brain for Confidence offers a practical step-by-step guide to achieving goals for anyone who has struggled with self-doubt. Louisa Jewell demystifies the science behind action-oriented confidence and makes it accessible to all. This book will empower you to go for your dreams and live your happiest life.
On our path towards a happier life, there may be no more important journey than the one from self-doubt to self-confidence. In Wire Your Brain for Confidence, Louisa Jewell provides an easy-to-use yet well-researched map that you can use for this important journey.
#1 New York Times bestselling author of How Full is Your Bucket?, StrengthsFinder 2.0, Eat Move Sleep & Are You Fully Charged?
Louisa Jewell has written a brilliant book that is steeped in research, filled with novel ideas, and memorable stories. I learned things from this book that I will use for years to come.
Louisa delivered a fantastic workshop on the topic of personal resilience and learning to embrace failure. Her session was refreshing, entertaining and very pertinent to our work with students.
The strategies she provided are ones we can apply right away. Our time with her simply flew by! I highly recommend Louisa as she is both an expert on and shining example of the power of positive psychology.
It would have taken me months of independent study to learn what I have learnt in just six short weeks. The classes were lively, engaging and down to earth. The practical examples and stories made the research come alive.
I especially loved the home happiness boosters turned my A-ha Moments into easy action steps with big impact. Flourishing 101 made a positive impact on my life and has given me powerful resources that I will continue to use daily.
Louisa is as generous as she is knowledgeable. If you want to be happier, don’t miss this chance to learn the secrets of flourishing from a leader in the field of Positive Psychology!
The Watercooler sessions that you offer have meant the world to me during this most challenging time in our lives. From the coronavirus to the Black Lives Matter movement, to political unrest, this is an unprecedented time in history. I am so thankful for your generosity and your teachings. You truly are a gift! Your sessions have kept me grounded and working towards being resilient, with a new awareness around the importance of well-being in everyday life and in the most trying of times. The tools you share and the way you explain them and then allow us to practice them, has been invaluable. What you’ve taught me, I’ve passed along to friends and family and in turn, helped them too. So your teachings are multiplied and touch more people than you know! A heartfelt thank you to you, Louisa!
I had long struggled with my lack of motivation and my fear of the world. I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to start conversations with strangers or to try new things. I was unhappy with the small and empty way I was living my life and I wanted to make a change, but I didn’t know how or if I could. I found the answers I was looking for in this course.
It opened my eyes to the traps I was falling into and it gave me the knowledge and more importantly, the strategies I needed to overcome them. Once I started to apply some of those strategies and to do the exercises, I started to have a more positive outlook. With that new attitude, I embraced the findings and philosophies the workshop presented and gained the courage I needed to grow into a more productive and resilient person. Now I feel more in control of my life and hopeful for my future. Friends and family have told me I’m lighter and more confident. I have mended bad relationships and accomplished long-term goals. I feel like I’ve finally left my state of arrested development behind and entered adulthood. I owe that to Louisa and Flourishing 101.
The Resilience for High Performance seminar delivered by Louisa Jewell to our sales and services teams at Patient News was interesting, entertaining and highly effective. Louisa clearly has full command of the subject. She delivered the content, true to the theme of her book, with total confidence, wit and rigor. Leading up to the session, Louisa took the time to really get to know our company, team and objectives and brilliantly structured the afternoon to meet our specific needs. From individual character strength identification to uncovering the 6 pillars of wellness, the content really engaged and I received many overwhelmingly positive comments from session participants. What really resonated were the “actual tools” Louisa introduced to help attendees incorporate the learnings into real practice. I even heard one of our senior sales executives on the phone with a prospective client saying “I work with an amazing organization that really cares about people. We recently had an expert in Positive Phycology here to coach us on how to been more effective, productive and happy. She was fantastic”. I highly recommend Louisa Jewell to any organization wanting to enhance the performance and interconnectedness of their teams. The Resilience for High Performance program is for you!
1) I felt that the PD with Louisa Jewell really had an effect on me in a very positive way. I could not stop talking and thinking about her discussions for a week or more after. It had such an impact on me that I spoke to my friends about that PD. I feel that our school needs these kinds of reminders in order to put ourselves on track and keep us conscious about our behaviors. I would love to continue to have her and listen to her and work. The best speaker and the most interesting topic I can remember.
2) I loved this PD session – more than any other previous PD. What made it unique was the universal applicability to all facets of life – family, work & personal. Ultimately, all of us working on personal growth and self-awareness will make us better role models, teachers, friends, parents, staff
Southlake Regional Health Centre
Louisa was asked to present a full day workshop to our leadership group on Building Resiliency.
Louisa’s professionalism, expertise, engaging and interactive style, together with a unique sense of humor made the day not only very enjoyable and worthwhile, but very informative. I had many leaders express gratitude and appreciation for the learnings Louisa provided. In addition, prior to the workshop Louisa was very accommodating and flexible, working behind the scenes to help make the day productive. If you are looking to educate staff or leaders on the topic of building resiliency, I would definitely not hesitate in recommending using Louisa as your facilitator. You will not be disappointed.