Much attention is currently being given to redefining and elevating relationships between coworkers. From the ‘Building Better Communication’ meeting to anti-bullying campaigns; we’re always seeking to identify and evolve into a better way of being. One way we can reign in the good feelings and bring it on into home base is by celebrating others, especially when they are sharing their good news. It boosts morale, it shows appreciation for our coworkers, and it brings some humanity back into our daily lives. If you are wondering how far we have gone astray from the basics, you can take a look-see at the American Nurses Association’s position statement on Incivility, Bullying, and Workplace Violence.

Since the ANA has spoken, I’ve had my radar running on the lookout for ways that nurses can retreat from the dark side and come back to Kumbaya. Recently, I picked up a signal that I’d like to transmit back to the masses. I’ve become aware of a construct created by Shelly Gable, a psychologist and professor at UC Santa Barbara. She is an expert on what makes a good relationship within positive disclosures.

As part of our everyday life, we can have positive life events that we want to share with others: positive disclosures. It’s part of being in a balanced community and creates affirmative bonds. According to Shelly Gable’s construct, there are four ways in which a person can respond when someone shares their good news. One is relationship building; the other three get the big gong of disapproval because they are relationship destroying.

So, follow along with me and my enthusiasm, because today you’ll walk away with a golden nugget in your pocket. It will be an easy, simple skill you can add to your repertoire for being a relationship-upholding individual and someone who coworkers appreciate being around. Hooray for improved relationships with coworkers across the board. Now that’s something to celebrate!

Many people have a natural knack animproving-relationships-chartd charisma for positive interactions while others struggle and need the Betty Crocker cookbook type of how-to instruction. Either way, the goal is to be the best version of ourselves for each other, our coworkers, and the people we serve. Taking advantage of what works and feels good makes absolute sense. Moreover, this accessible skill will make you a better friend and family member. So, don’t think twice about spreading the good vibe outside of the work environment, which will only serve to extend the sunshine even further.

In Positive Psychology, there is a handy four quadrant map that indicates where you are with hitting the right mark for being a good citizen in the workplace. On this quadrangle, the goal is to reach for the upper left quadrant: Active Construction.

To elucidate further, here are examples of each communication response type. You’ll want to take some time to practice various scenarios and how you would respond. This will help you in recognizing where you need to make some adjustments in communication response style. Some folks may find that they have already been innately employing Active Construction. Others may realize they are at ground zero and need to learn how to develop more empathy and sincerity. And lastly, there are those that will discover that they need to do some deep inner work to unravel why they cannot be happy for someone else and achieve a genuine Active Construction stance.

Active Construction

Active Construction offers a sincere and enthusiastic response, full of support, eye contact, and a request for elaboration. One gets the sense that they are authentically being celebrated with.

Example

Nurse to coworker: “I just received word that I landed the promotion I was going for.”

Response: “That’s so exciting! I think you are the perfect choice. It was only a matter of time before you were recognized for all your hard work. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it. Let’s celebrate at lunch today.”

Passive Construction

Passive Construction carries a low-energy quality in its response. The response can be delayed or quiet. Apathy and insincerity are destructive to relationships, especially in the face of positive life event sharing. One gets the sense that their balloon has just been deflated.

Example

Nurse to coworker: “I just received word that I landed that promotion I was going for.”

Response: “That’s nice. I’m glad for you.” (Coworker makes no eye contact and continues to work on the computer.)

Active Destruction

Active Destruction will stifle or extinguish enthusiasm. It can be outright dismissive and demeaning. This can leave a person feeling embarrassed for sharing their news.

Example

Nurse to coworker: “I just received word that I landed that promotion I was going for.”

Response: “Well, that’s just sweet. You realize that’s going to leave us one person short on the unit. Are you sure you’re up for all the extra responsibility since you’ve been so tired lately? Maybe you should re-think this big change.”

Passive Destruction

Passive Destruction turns the conversation away from the enthusiasm. It can go as far as completely changing the subject without acknowledgment. It has an ignoring and avoidant quality.

Example

Nurse to coworker: “I just received word that I landed that promotion I was going for.”

Response: “That’s right. I remember you telling me you were going for that. Hey, I ended up booking my cruise last night. I’ll be gone for two whole glorious weeks!”

For those who are more visual learners, check out the video below. This is a great way to see this skill in action.


There are many ways we can up our game where social decorum is concerned. It can roll out the red carpet toward a better work environment. Making the conscious effort in the direction of healthy peer bonds and bridging relational gaps will always need our attention. Now you know that when it comes to celebrating others and when someone is sharing good news, always shoot for the upper left quadrant: Active Construction.

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Mary Magdalene Jarowski, RN, BS, CHPN, CFCN

Mary Magdalene Jarowski has been contributing to Nursing, Health and Science for over 30 years. Her educational degrees are in Nursing and Biology, with additional studies in Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety. She is a Board Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse (CHPN) and WOCN Board Certified Foot Care Nurse (CFCN). Additionally, she is certified as a Holistic Stress Management Instructor (HSMI). She defines herself as a nurse, writer, researcher, human rights activist and friend to those most vulnerable among us.
Mary Magdalene Jarowski, RN, BS, CHPN, CFCN

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