WEEK 13- Active Constructive Responding

PERMAH Element
Relationships and Positive emotions

Teachers to read and facilitate the following:



Active constructive responding or ACR refers to the way that we respond when someone is sharing something positive with us. How we respond to the good news of others can either build a relationship or undermine it (Seligman, 2011).  There are four different ways of responding: active constructive (to encourage); passive constructive (to minimise); active destructive (to point out the negative); and passive destructive (to brush off or ignore). Only one of these ways is positive for relationships- this is Active constructive responding (ACR). ACR involves offering interest, enthusiasm, support, encouragement and sometimes follow-up questions when someone shares some good news with us. An example of this might be someone sharing the good news that they are trying out for the district team and an active constructive response would be, “That is awesome! I hope the trials go well. It seems like you have been training really hard for this.” This response benefits the individual and the relationship, while the other ways of responding have been shown to have a negative impact on the wellbeing of those sharing the good news, and also on the relationship (Gable, Gonzaga & Strachman, 2006). Responding in an active constructive way is a skill and can be practiced to enhance relationships and wellbeing.  

Description of Personal Wellbeing Practice:  ACR

  1. Turn to the person next to you and in pair. Next, we will ask a question and practice responding in an active, constructive way.

  2. One person must ask their partner “What was the best part of your last weekend?” Then listen, give eye contact and show interest in the person speaking. You can ask more questions to get more information and then say something encouraging to them about what they shared.

  3. Then swap so you both get a chance to listen and use Active constructive responding.

Main message:

“How you respond when someone shares good news determines the quality of your relationships.”   Gable, Gonzaga & Strachman


UPP’s Personal Wellbeing Practices

A Personal Wellbeing Practice (PWP) is an evidenced-based positive psychology intervention, applied in school communities or other educational settings. At UPP, we have tried to make these PWP’s simple, concise and relevant for students and their teachers. The six elements for the Personal Wellbeing Practices are: Positive emotion (P); Engagement (E); Relationships (R); Meaning (M); Accomplishment (A); and, Health (H).

We hope that these evidence-based tools of positive psychology will enhance help people to thrive and live their best life, both within and beyond the school gates.  

For more activities like this (and much more), check out THRIVE Online Lesson Modules for Pastoral Care and Wellbeing.

Unleashing Personal Potential