We share a common struggle — knowing how and when to deliver bad news. My tendency is to delay the delivery, or worse, try to avoid the need for delivery by allowing time to pass. But I’ve found this only makes the inevitable harder.
So, what is the solution?
Say what you need to say as quickly as possible. Don’t wait a week to respond to that email when 5 minutes of courageous writing can resolve it. Don’t wait until the day the project is due to let your collaborator know you’re two days behind. Don’t keep dating the girl if you know it’s over. Don’t keep saying yes when you know the most honest answer is no.
*Photo Credit: wetwebwork, Creative Commons
I understand this is easier said than done.
But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.
Recently, I resigned from managing a musician that is also a great friend of mine.
For the last 3.5 years, we partnered together to grow his music career in the best way we knew how. We didn’t let anyone else define what his career should look like, but made decisions we knew felt right, even when everyone else thought we were crazy.
This past February, I had to make one last decision I knew felt right.
I told my friend I needed to transition out of my role as his manager.
It was a decision I wrestled with for a long while. But no matter how many times I tried to convince myself I could press through the busyness of another tour or another record, deep down I knew it wasn’t possible for me to keep that pace long-term (considering all of the work I do across multiple projects). With his career continually on the rise, I knew the best gift I could give was the opportunity for him to continue with another manager who could keep up with the pace.
Walking away from the opportunity to work with someone I esteem greatly is what made that decision so hard.
But as soon as I knew the decision was upon me, I didn’t wait.
For his sake, for my own sake, I knew if I waited, it’d be out of the fear of disappointing a friend rather than the goodwill of each other.
When I’m able set aside all of my fears, and many times my own selfish desires and insecurities, the decisions I need to make become much clearer. The right decision becomes much clearer.
Then all of the sudden, what I once thought of as bad news isn’t so bad. I’ve wasted no time, thus letting it healthily transform into something positive for both parties.
Do you have bad news?
Bad news wouldn’t be so bad if you’d just be willing to deliver it.
Ultimately, when you decide to be upfront and honest, you give others the respect of space and time needed to move on. You contribute less baggage to those you date. You allow more time for clients or employers to find a better fit. You throw out resentment and leave more room for forgiveness and grace.
Dr. Henry Cloud suggests, “Do today what you have been avoiding. You will pick up clarity and energy as a result… not to mention brain space.”