The Best Single Skill to Improve Your Relationships
Celebrate the Good News of Others to Make Your Relationships Soar
Dr. John Schinnerer
How do you maximize a marriage?
Want to amplify your love life?
Want to know the secret to a transcendent sex life?
How do you turn up the intensity and frequency of positive feelings with your friends and family?
New studies are uncovering exactly what makes your relationships thrive and soar. This work provides some valuable insights in transforming bad relationships into good ones and good ones into great ones.
The secret is in HOW you respond to their good news.
Generally, people respond in one of 4 ways to other peoples good news.
For instance, your lover shares that she’s just found a new job. Your son just made the Varsity Football team. Your friend drives up in a new sports car. How you respond to their exciting news has a remarkable effect on your relationships, their happiness and your happiness…
- An enthusiastic reaction such as “Wow! That’s tremendous. That’s the best thing I’ve heard all week. I’m sure there are more great things to come for you. You’ve definitely earned it. Congratulations!” This reaction is called the active-constructive response.
- A more subdued reaction where you share your happiness but say little. For example, “That’s nice dear.” This is the passive-constructive response.
- Or perhaps you point out some of the potential pitfalls or negatives within the good event. For instance, “Wow, I sure hope you can handle all that extra responsibility. Does this mean you will have to work extra hours?” Gable refers to this as the active-destructive response.
- Or, you might respond with disinterest and not respond to the good news at all. Most folks do this by merely changing the subject, “Yes, but what do you think about the weather outside?” This is known as the passive-destructive response.
These last two destructive approaches are frequently fueled by jealousy and are often accompanied by the thought, ‘Why didn’t that happen to me?’ or ‘I deserve that too’ or ‘I wanted that, why didn’t I get that?’ Realize those thoughts are normal. They are human. Simply be aware of them. Know they are normal. Let them go. And quickly turn towards excitement at the good news of others.
The first type of response, the active-constructive one, is called “capitalizing” and here’s the fascinating part…capitalizing amplifies the pleasure of the good event and creates an upward spiral of good feelings. Capitalizing is integral to strong, supportive, thriving relationships.
Realize that this is a learnable skill. It may not feel authentic or natural at first. That is to be expected. No new skill feels normal at first. It requires practice and repetition. The more you practice it, the better you become and the more your relationships flourish.
The Effects of Capitalizing on Good News of Others
The consequences of learning how to be more of a “capitalizer” are impressive and robust. Couples who describe themselves as having a spouse who is active and constructive in response to their good news are:
- More committed to the relationship
- More in love
- Happier in their marriage
These effects spread far beyond romantic relationship and this skill may be used in any relationship to strengthen bonds, forge lasting ties and psychologically benefit both you and those for whom you care.
Think about that the next time someone comes bearing great news!
To life love and laughter,
Positive Psychology Coach
Anger Management Specialist