Life Lesson – Bearer of Bad News (Lose/Lose situation)

Bearers of bad news have a bad reputation. Nobody likes to hear what they have to say, so it’s unsurprising that the messenger approaches the situation with some level of anxiety. The phrase “don’t shoot the messenger” dates back to 1598 in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part II. Even earlier, “no one loves the messenger who brings bad news” was Antigone by Sophocles (written in or before 442 BC). We’ve been giving the messenger a hard time for many years, and that’s likely lead to consistent poor form when delivering bad news. It’s time to forget all of that, drop the anxiety, and just get to the point when you have something difficult to say.” – LifeHacker


Today, I was the bearer of bad news.

Well, I tried to ease in to delivering some bad news today.  I tried to ease into it and make it extremely painless.  Instead, once again, instead of receiving the bad news objectively, the receiver accused me of doing something underhanded or having some motive in delivering the news.  Without getting into details, I can only say that I was very disappointed in this individual – someone who could never trust me but always seemed able to trust others who I felt deserved it less – and quite shocked at their reaction to me.  But, here is what dumbfounds me even as I write it: I truly had no motive and was myself outside of the situation surrounding the negative news!  I ran into this person and instead of just walking away, I decided to go ahead and be cordial, since this is a small world.  I wrote two emails thanking this person about this website critique as well as providing motivational materials for this individual’s journey into what looks to be some tough graduate work.  I felt proud of this person, and at the same time I thought I did a good job delivering great motivational emails.

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Today, my message was concise: “Just be careful; don’t get hurt again.” A simple and considerate message, yes?  So I thought. However, instead of getting a “thank you” for the information, I was subjected to a verbal firestorm that pointed the finger at me!  Now, I realize that this person was upset and didn’t want to face the truth – something I can only hope that time and reflection will reveal.  Since I was the bearer of the bad news, I became the target of the lashing-out, and I understand this. However, I can only hope that when time passes and all open wounds have healed, this person will realize that I had no motive or angle in my delivery. I only meant to inform.

I asked many friends today if my actions were appropriate. I got mixed results; it was 50/50. Perhaps I should have kept the information to myself and moved on, since it was not my business to inform. Is that the right thing to do? It sure averts the heartache and the headache…

Here are some valuable lessons that I learned today:

  1. Trust your gut instinct – My gut said “stay away!” and I didn’t listen to it. “Don’t get involved” should have been the motto today.
  2. Bearing bad news to someone who doesn’t trust you is an unwise move, especially when it is not necessarily your news to bear.
  3. Once you lose someone’s trust, it is very difficult to get it back. The skeptical party would rather trust complete strangers on the Internet than you. The more you try to convince, the worse things will get.
  4. If you do make the mistake of trying to bear someone else’s bad news for them, and the receiver already doesn’t trust you, you can beat yourself up over the poor decision to open your mouth in the first place; but it’s more important that you realize that what’s done is DONE. “Move on” is a good motto for situations like these.

– I hope all of you who are reading this learn something, since it is 100% real life and can happen to anyone.

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 Update from editor’s perspective: Michael J. Warner


Not sure if this article is so much about strategies for bearing bad news or lessons learned when needing to give bad news as it is about using foresight when thinking about delivering bad news that is not your place to deliver. For example, Paul is going to get fired. You hear this through the office grapevine. You find Paul to be a likeable guy, but you two aren’t necessarily the best of friends. In fact, you find yourselves often in competition with one another for this or that thing. You run into Paul the day he’s being fired (but hasn’t been fired yet), and you think it would be a good idea to let him know that he’s going to be fired. Paul lashes out at you, because he feels like you are taking the opportunity to rub it in that he will be fired. He already felt a bit un-trusting toward you, now he trusts you even less as a quality guy. Bad news bears. This is what I got from this article. The lesson here is not about how best to approach delivering bad news; it’s about learning to NOT give someone else’s bad news for them. However, doing an article on strategies for bearing bad news that you are supposed to bear would be an interesting article for sure. Perspectives from the corporate world, health care world, sports world, etc. could be gathered and used. Anyhow, just my thoughts!

When someone you thought you knew well would rather trust a stranger (from online) than you, something is royally messed up, wouldn’t you say? – SjC

14 Responses to “Life Lesson – Bearer of Bad News (Lose/Lose situation)”

  1. Talia February 13, 2013 at 9:19 pm Permalink

    I was in similar situation described in this post. More I try to convince and let the person see the truth, I was the blame for stuff happening to them. Whenever someone points out the truth, the arrow never goes to the real problem. I got blamed for everything. Sometimes it is better to let the person learn it the hard way. It may be painful, but at least you are not going to get blamed for it. It is almost like doing someone a favor and get yelled at for doing that favor. I know a friend who bought his g/f best laptop (over $3000.00) but she told him that she hates it and that she wanted something else. She didn’t like the color, design and belittled him for it. Some woman are literally a bitch by nature and guys reading this, identify the bitch and GET OUT NOW!

  2. Kim February 13, 2013 at 9:20 pm Permalink

    Great post! When did this actually happened? Can you elaborate what was the issues?

  3. Erica February 13, 2013 at 9:47 pm Permalink

    I have an advice for all guys on this website. Guys have bro code, we woman also have the girl code. I don’t know what happened, but I suspect someone told something to a girl. Let me tell you something, I don’t care what it is, if you are not HER GF, you don’t tell anything. You can ask general questions about it, but NOT tell her the truth. Even if she wanted the truth, GUYS, you can’t tell that truth. ALL GIRLS have EGOS and if someone other than her GF tells the truth, she will EAT you alive and WILL never want to speak to you again.

  4. Chris Todd February 13, 2013 at 10:46 pm Permalink

    LOL, it looks like she is blaming EVERYTHING on you bro. Live and Learn!

  5. Caylee February 14, 2013 at 4:41 am Permalink

    Looks like someone may be cheating and in denial to see the truth? Blaming wrong person?

  6. Katie February 14, 2013 at 3:19 pm Permalink

    This person not very nice at all. Don’t help this person, this person don’t deserve help. It looks like to me this person may be dilusional and unable to face truth. This person need suffering to understand the real issues. Move on, don’t waste time

  7. Mike Phillips February 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm Permalink

    Bro, is this the same chic on “how to lose a girl your courting?”
    If so, this chic is insane. She met someone from online dating site usually means in desperation, so you know the end result will turn out bad. I hope it is not related to online world where you got involved. I bet if this is the case, her anger is ALL likely will be directed at you bro, not the guilty party. Let me inform readers on this website, I am not bad mouthing online dating but for the majority, there are some weird people lurking on there. I am still using it and I can tell you some crazy ass stories. Chics on there are either want to get married or get laid. Either you get some sluts or crazy ass chics who want a commitment after three dates. Fuc* that! Right now off and on, I use online dating if I need to get laid but I don’t get much out of it any longer. If anyone thinks online dating is way of finding that dream wife or husband material, think very hard. You are lucky if you are married or having long term relationships using online but for the most part, it is really not a very good place to meet solid SANE people. Getting laid is a different story however. Bro, If you got involved with any of online drama with this chic, you are going to be forever known as the BAD guy in her life. She will even forgive the guilty person because you caused the problem. LOL, I hope you didn’t fuc* yourself on this. My advice is just like Erica, who wrote on here, stay the Fuc* away, let her find out herself naturally. She is fuc*ed either way but at least you are not taking the blame for it. If you want to email me, let me know bro.

  8. Matrix February 14, 2013 at 10:16 pm Permalink

    Sir, I have been following this website since I found it on Google. Great content and enjoying your life stories. This one, I feel bad for you since you meant to help. The statement about you are walking nightmare that won’t go away? OUCH! very harsh for telling someone about don’t get hurt. Interjecting her life? All you did was shared something that could benefit her but she were somehow resentful. Is she on some sort of medication such as Zoloff to Prozac? If so, this could explain her unexplainable behavior towards you. She is not your typical girl it seems. It looks like she has some major growing up to do. She seems to also have low self esteem issues. My recommendation would be I would also stay away for sake of your sanity. She is not worth your time.

  9. Cindi February 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm Permalink

    Whomever this person is and I really hope just like Mike said, not the same girl from that other article but if it is the same girl on other article, it appears that based on the strong reaction towards you, she had no idea. This person your referring to tried to defend someone when you broke the news by chance? It is not him, or her, etc??

  10. Mark February 19, 2013 at 9:46 pm Permalink

    I wanted to comment on your post and perhaps offer an objective POV aimed not so much at what was said or done, but focused more so in the spirit of this site’s motto “Balancing health, wealth, and relationships”.

    It seems that you have or had a vested interest in this person, and the feeling was most likely not mutual or at least not reciprocated in a manner that appealed to you. It’s also safe to assume that you care deeply for the person otherwise you’d not have gone to the lengths you did. That being said, we can speculate all day about whether online dating is for winners or losers, and we can go on and on about the “pure intentions” of the news delivery, but what I really see is that your ego was damaged by her choosing another man over you. Consequently, as Erica pointed out, her ego was damaged as well by your news. Perhaps you confirmed her suspicions about online dating, or perhaps you gave her some other reason to question her choices.

    We often confuse a bruised ego for a bruised heart, and as humans our first instinct is to act out in defense and frustration. In this particular case, you both acted out in a way that causes and imbalance in your respective relationship lives. You have a relationship with yourselves as well as a relationship with each other (even if only a friendship). In order to maintain the integrity of both relationships, the only thing to do is find a healthier outlet for your frustration and keep your distance. You’ve caused an irritation in each other just like on the skin. When the skin is irritated, scratching it just makes it worse. Focus on the things that give you the most confidence. Go to the gym, re-connect with an old friend, donate some clothes, maybe even talk to an old girlfriend (preferably one you have good rapport with). These are all simple ego-boosters. Remember, emotions are fleeting, much like the common cold. We can suppress the symptoms of our emotions, but we can’t shed the emotion itself. It must be allowed to run its course. There is much truth to the saying “Time heals all wounds”.

    MF

    • Chris Todd February 20, 2013 at 1:44 am Permalink

      Mark, you are deep. Coming from your own experiences?

      • Mark February 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm Permalink

        Chris,

        Thanks for your comments. Absolutely from personal experience! I think we’ve all witnessed our hearts and brains arm wrestle each other at some point. I have several relationship philosophies that I often remind myself of to keep things in perspective. They may not be the most profound, but the key to happiness is doing what works best for you. That could quite possibly mean doing what works best for others if that makes you happy. I’ll share one because I think it applies:

        Philosophy 1 – Adding layers. I believe that as we slip in and out of relationships, we add a new layer of protection to keep in check for the next (Women excel at this much more than men). That’s not to say that we refuse to let people in, just that we learn a bit more about ourselves from relationship to relationship. Think of it like Football. In the early days of Football, it was shirts, pants, and a ball. After a few torn ligaments, knee-pads were added. Then concussions begat helmets, dislocated shoulders begat shoulder pads, etc…Each time a layer of protection was added, the players got tougher and the game could flourish. In health, wealth, and especially relationship, the same principles apply.

        There’s an old saying “Quality over quantity” and I hear it spoken often when it comes to relationships. I think this saying is misinterpreted. While quality is certainly the end result, it cannot be achieved without quantity. Obviously, there are exceptions and a few get lucky on the first try (I have the utmost envy for these people), but for the vast majority, we can’t possibly know what is right without being wrong more than once.

    • Cindi February 20, 2013 at 12:54 pm Permalink

      Great comment Mark. I also agree on time being healer of wounds. I also think that she needs some time to reflect. The way she reacted, I have a strong suspicision that she had no idea but she is taking it out on wrong person.

      • Mark February 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm Permalink

        Cindi,

        Thanks for your kind words. I can assure you she will reflect, and she will certainly need to take ownership of her actions for the sake of the relationship with herself. That’s the beauty of self-discovery. This poster has already made a bold step in that process by listing things he can improve on from this experience. He can do little good by dwelling on her reaction. Of course, if he is going to dwell, he can at least do it at the gym or somewhere that he can expel the negative energy.

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