The stress-relieving effects of social support, however, can be diminished by hostility. Recent research from Brigham Young University found that, in situations where people were discussing with a friend the negative events that caused them stress, those participants who scored high in hostility (including cynicism and mistrust) had elevated blood pressure compared to the non-hostile participants. This held true both for those giving social support and those receiving it.
This highlights not only the importance of having good listening skills--being a poor listener can actually make a loved one who's baring their soul feel worse rather than better--but of working hard to foster strong, trusting relationships with the people who are close to us, so we can give and receive social support in ways that are good for everyone. The following are some resources that can help.
Relationship Resources from Elizabeth Scott:
Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TW, Uchino BN. Can Hostility Interfere with the Health Benefits of Giving and Receiving Social Support? The Impact of Cynical Hostility on Cardiovascular Reactivity During Social Support Interactions Among Friends. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. June 27, 2008.