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  • Writer's picture Lauren Malach

An Easy Way To Create Strong Relationships

Updated: Jun 13, 2019

Hump Day Hacks are for everyone: those of you who love going to work everyday, some days, or hardly ever; those interested in building cultures of appreciation, innovation and purpose; and those who want to create better conditions in all aspects of life (you can use these tips at home or at family gatherings too).

Hump Day Hacks come from the fields of positive psychology, design thinking and coaching. It's not just stuff I make up!

Subscribers will receive a bonus activity to help integrate the concept into their life. You can subscribe at the bottom of this page and receive free exercises and coaching activities on a semi-regular basis.

So without further ado, I offer you the first Hump Day Hack.

How To Build A Culture Of Connection and Appreciation

The importance of healthy social relationships to our wellbeing has been demonstrated repeatedly by science. We all know that when bad things happen we need people around us. But what about when things are going well? A study by Gable et. al (2004) looked at how we react to positive news and its impact on ourselves and our interpersonal relationships.

Their research has shown that sharing positive events with others can increase positive emotions and well-being. However, the potential benefits of sharing these events depends on the reaction of the responder. It's not just what we share that is important, but how the listener responds. There are four possible ways that we can respond to the good events in others’ lives. They are: active-constructive, passive-constructive, active-destructive, passive-destructive. Research shows that only the active–constructive response is beneficial to the responder and to the relationship between the sharer and responder.

Let's take a closer look at each one through the lens of the situation below.

Imagine your employee comes into your office and announces that she landed a new client engagement.

An active-constructive response involves: conveying authentic enthusiasm, interest, pride, and curiosity in someone’s good news. This includes non-verbal communication such as smiling, putting down your phone or stepping away from your computer, and turning your attention and body toward the speaker. The responder can further capitalize on the interaction by asking curious questions about the event and the process leading up to it.

An active-constructive response sounds like, “That’s amazing! I knew they’d recognize your efforts and perseverance. You worked so hard. How did it feel when you got the news? Let’s set a date to go out to lunch and celebrate your success.”

When people share good news, they want you to share in their joy. And this goes far beyond just a thumb’s up. Active-constructive responding increases the savouring of positive feelings involved (Reis et al., 2010) and can improve your relationship.

The other three response styles are negatively related to well-being (Gable et al., 2004). They are:

Passive-constructive response. It is positive but doesn’t include curious, active, specific or elaborative feedback. It sounds like “That’s good news. Way to go!”

Active-destructive response. In this type, the responder elaborates but focuses on the negatives or downsides of the event. “That’s great. How are you going to get all your work done with this new client on board? Do you think you’re ready to handle it? Do you think the work load will be challenging?”

Passive-destructive response. This response contains no affirming or positive acknowledgement. It lacks interest and engagement. “Cool. Are you ready for the meeting?”

Active-constructive responding takes practice. We’re all busy and distracted. Yet, taking a few minutes to allow someone else to savour their positive events will increase their wellbeing and yours!

Here's an overview of the four different types of responses using another example:

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