"Good, the more communicated, more abundant grows."
-John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book V-
Last May I wrote a post about the pluses and minuses of sharing good news.
Who do you run to first to share wonderful news?
It's the people in your life who are going to be thrilled for you--who know how to celebrate.
But--not everyone is going to react to your good news in the same way!
Gretchen Rubin who writes The Happiness Project Blog, says one of rules for being a true friend is:
I've reprinted my entire May post below, because it was "spot on" correct with my own experience this week when I had exciting news to share. I'd love to hear if others have had similar experiences.
On Sunday I was ecstatic with exciting news. My oldest son was in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. Not only was I so proud and excited for him, but the New York Times is one of my most favorite reads! It was a positive interesting article with a full page photo of him. Wow! I got up early so I could get a couple of copies of the paper before it sold out & headed straight to my spinning (cycling) class. I couldn't wait to share the news with my gym buddies.
On the way home (finally a respectable hour to call) I talked to my sister, relatives & some friends.
Then I dashed to my computer & emailed a copy of the online article to everyone in my address book who I thought might be interested---including some folks I haven't talked to for a awhile!
Then I ran over to my neighbors with the magazine in hand. I couldn't wait to show them the article.
Then I took the magazine with me to work the next day, just bursting to show my co-workers.
Honestly---I kept thinking, "Who is this crazy lady?" I don't do this kind of stuff. I'm usually hesitant and quiet about sharing good news--but I just let my exuberance play itself out--and enjoyed the joy of this delicious experience.
So, What Did I Learn about Sharing Good News?
- "Good, the more communicated, more abundant grows!", John Milton says. I acted uncharacteristically and I shared my news--and I'm so glad I did! I heard back from most everyone to whom I emailed the story--and every reply just made me even happier. Thank you to everyone! Take home point: Hit the reply button immediately and share your friend's excitement.
- I haven't heard back from everyone, but that's to be expected. Emails land in SPAM or are overlooked; people are busy or procrastinate or forget or are out-of-town or don't care. Some people don't think replies are necessary. That happens to be a personal pet peeve of mine--but I'll save that for another day.
- Trust your instincts about who you share good news with! When I got into work on Monday my boss had already read the article & she was very excited about it. But then she said something interesting (to the effect of), "I thought about bringing the magazine in for everyone to see, but then I thought, it's not something that everyone would necessarily appreciate, or that you would want to share with everyone." At first I was surprised by her comment--but really, she's quite a wise woman. I shared my copy with everyone at work who either knows my son or knows of him--people who I thought would appreciate the article. Once again, their excitement was a joy for me. But then I thought--why make assumptions--be generous with my good news. After all, I love it when people share their news with me! So, I showed the story to someone I normally wouldn't have shared with. Her reaction could best be described as odd, off-base, and clueless. Coincidently, my husband had the same flat experience when he shared the story with some people with whom he normally wouldn't have shared good news. Take home point: Trust your instincts when sharing good news! You know who will care.
- Best ways to respond to someone's good news: Scream, "Oh, my God!"; give a big hug; ask questions; call or email them; show enthusiasm and excitement!
- I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the enthusiasm of others, and will absolutely reciprocate at every opportunity.
- People consistently fell into the Gable & Reis' four categories of reactions to positive news. See below to know what the heck I'm talking about! I will always run to the "active-constructive" folks first! There were some passive-constructive responses, but hey, we're all different personalities. I didn't encounter any truly active-destructive people--although a couple people had odd-ball comments that took the "wind out of my sails." And interestingly, my instincts protected me from the passive-destructive folks--the one's who just don't care. They just never heard my news!
The Original May 5th Post: Who Do You Tell When Something Wonderful Just Happened?
Who are you going to call? You just got the job. Got into medical school. Found out you're pregnant. Got the "all clear" on your MRI. Or your son got engaged, accepted to Harvard Law, and took a job making six figures.
First I call my husband, then my kids, then my sister & sister-in-law, then my friends. My mom would probably be first on that list if she were still alive. Moms are definitely the guaranteed number one cheer-leading booster squad in your life. After all, your good news is their good news.
But sometimes, at least for me, it can be complicated. Sometimes I have a problem sharing good news. It's hard for me to share good news when I know someone is experiencing their own disappointments. How do you share your pregnancy with a friend who has been trying to get pregnant for months? How do you share your daughter's great job offer with a friend whose daughter moved back home?
And then I've also got my own goofy mishigas (Yiddish for craziness) about divulging my good news. It's a mixture of the fear of the "evil eye" and a crazy aversion to looking like a braggart. As if drawing attention to my own good fortune will tempt fate to throw something terrible my way. Definitely, my mishigas!
And can you be happy and enthusiastic for your friend when your own heart is breaking? It's complicated.
I was reminded of all of this yesterday when I read David J. Pollay's "right on post", called Who Do You Run To? He shares the exhilaration he felt in fifth grade when he broke his school record for the 50 yard dash. He couldn't wait to go home for lunch and share his good news with his mom. His mom pumped him for every detail of his victory. Then they called his dad & he got to share his awesome news all over again. He'll never forget that day. He says, "It was one of the best days of my life."
Back in 2004 Shelly Gable of UCLA and Harry Reis of the University of Rochester published "What Do You Do When Things Go Right? The Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Benefits of Sharing Positive Events" in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
They came up with four ways people respond to someone else's good news.
- Active-Constructive response: They're thrilled, they want to know all the details, "they're almost more happy than I am." And you are so glad you shared your news with them.
- Passive-Constructive response: They're the quiet type. They listen actively, they're happy for you, they're supportive, but you're pretty much going to be giving a monologue. No pumping for details here.
- Active-Destructive response: They're going to give you the down-side of your good news. They'll point out all the possible problems, and remind you that everything good has a bad side. They're really going to take the wind out of your sails.
- Passive-Destructive response: They're not going to give you much attention at all. They'll seem disinterested, or give you the impression they don't really care.
So who do you think you're going to be sharing your good news with? And more importantly, how do you react when your friends and family share their good news with you? Want to be that go-to-person-for-sharing-good-news? Active-Constructive leads the pack.
Having an enthusiastic cheerleader in your life was positively correlated with higher relationship well-being, like improved intimacy, bonding and marital satisfaction.
Personally, I love to hear good news. And anyone who shares their
good news with me knows ahead of time they're going to get lots of