The Top Skill to Boost The Quality of Your Relationships

Capitalize on Good News to Make Your Relationships Flourish

Dr. John Schinnerer

Guide To Self, Inc.


How do you create the best possible relationship?


How do you get along better with friends?

What’s the secret to a thriving love life?

How do you turn up the volume on the positive feelings with your loved ones?

New research is uncovering what makes relationships thrive and soar. This work provides some valuable insights in transforming your good relationships into great ones and the secret is in how you respond to the good news of your loved ones.

You respond in one of four ways to the good news of friends, partners and family.

For instance, your girlfriend tells you that she’s just been promoted at work. Your daughter tells you that she just became Student Body President. Your friend tells you he just got a new car. How you respond to their good news has a remarkable effect on your relationships, their happiness and your happiness:

  1. 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.
  2. A more subdued reaction where you share your happiness but say little. For example, “That’s nice dear.” This is the passive-constructive response.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Active constructive responding how can i be happy
Happiness in Relationships

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

Think about that the next time your friend comes in the door with exciting news!

To life love and laughter,

Dr. John

Dr. John Schinnerer
Positive Psychology Coach
Anger Management Specialist
Founder, Guide to Self, Inc.
913 San Ramon Valley Blvd. #280
Danville CA 94526
Positive psychology blog: 
Anger management blog:
Twitter: @johnschin

Author: Dr. John Schinnerer

John Schinnerer, Ph.D. is a U.C. Berkeley-trained executive coach and founder of Guide To Self, a company that focuses on coaching high performing individuals to their potential using strengths-based development and positive psychology (the science of optimal human functioning). He consulted on Pixar's Academy Award-winning movie Inside Out. He was featured in the documentary Skewed. He was recently cited in US News and World Report on anger management. His private practice is located at 913 San Ramon Valley Blvd. #280, Danville, CA 94526. He may be reached at John Most recently, Dr. John hosted Guide To Self Radio, a daily prime time radio show, in the San Francisco Bay Area. He graduated summa cum laude from U.C. Berkeley with a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. John has been a coach and psychologist for over 10 years. Dr. John’s areas of expertise range from positive psychology, to emotional awareness, to moral development to parenting. He is a noted writer and speaker on topics such as employee engagement, emotional intelligence, making a good brain great, and creating a healthy and efficient workplace. His award-winning book is on proven ways to lead a meaningful and happy life and is entitled, “Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought.” He has written articles on corporate ethics and EQ in the workplace for Workspan magazine,, and Business Ethics. He has given numerous presentations and consulted with tens of thousands of people for organizations such as Kaiser Permanente, Pixar, Sutter Health, SHRM, NCHRA, KNEW and KDIA. For over 17 years, Dr. John has been a loving father to four children.