Saturday, September 12, 2020

Sharing Bad News

Let me say upfront, no one likes bad news. I sure don't. Whenever any one says to me, "I have good news and bad news," I always respond by saying that I will take the good news, thank you very much. Of course, one cannot live anything close to a reality-based life without having to digest their share of bad news. This also applies to being the one who has to pass on the bad news. Just as none of us want to be told something "bad," being the one who has to do the telling is also a tough pill to swallow. (Over the years, my dentist has had a lot of practice with this when it comes to giving me the latest on my teeth.) Fortunately, I have good news about passing on bad news. Be honest. Straightforward. Up front. No sugar coating. No warm and fuzzy analogies designed to "soften the blow." No ambiguity. Tell your audience whether it is one other person or mutiple people the truth. Granted, it is no fun hearing that you did not get that job you so badly wanted or that your cat, Blinky, is dead. We have all been there. But let us be honest, looking back, was it not better to be told something we did not want to hear in a direct and clear way? This holds true for the teller of bad news as well, by the way. The coronavirus contines to wreak havoc in the United States. Very soon we will pass the 200,000 mark in terms of people losing their lives to it. A few days ago we learned that President Trump knew at the outset of the disease coming to our shores just how serious and deadly it was. Despite his knowledge, for months and months he opted to not be upfront about this fact and, instead, continued to communicate such things that it would disappear "magically" and that it would not be any more serious than the "regular flu." His willful dishonesty has only made matters worse for us and him. His decision to communicate the way he did - and still does - is communication at its worst.

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