Have you ever thought about why bad news can be so distressing? In this Let’s Define episode, I explain why information can be considered unwelcome, and what to do about it.
Watch the video, or read the transcript below:
Hi, I’m Grace LaConte, the Strategic Risk Expert. This is another episode of Let’s Define, where I explain phrases and terms from the strategic planning and risk management world, and phrases I’ve come up with myself, to help make sense of how to see risk from a logical but also fun point of view.
Today, I’m going to talk about a phrase I use a lot. Maybe it’s because I’m kind of a pessimist and tend to see the worst that could happen, or maybe it’s because I want to learn more on the journey of hearing things that aren’t so pleasant.
Either way, this is a term you probably hear a lot. It’s “Bad News.”
Now, I’m not talking about what you’d read in a newspaper or an online article. I’m talking about feedback we get from stakeholders who are involved in the process of contributing to, or receiving benefit from our business.
“Bad News” in this context is information that is considered unwelcome for 3 reasons:
The first kind of bad news is unpleasant. This kind of information creates suffering and pain. You know how it feels when you hear “Oh my gosh, we just had a major problem, and it’s going to cause a lot of headaches.” The pain could be financial, emotional, or social. There could be a lot of negative impact due to unpleasant news. You dread it happening.
The second kind is annoying. It could cause you to feel irritated, or angry. “Why does this have to happen to me?” As a manager, you might be thinking, “Okay, what’s the next wave of problems that are inevitably going to hit me?” It’s not necessarily going to cause pain or suffering, but it just feels like a time-waste.
The third kind of “bad news” is what I call disturbing. This would be something that causes you turmoil or anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety or side effects of a mental illness, or if you just get really nervous about things (like I do), surprises can be overly frustrating.
When we hear disturbing news, it can cause you to want to reject future information from the same source, or in the same manner.
But that can be really dangerous. And if, like me, you have received a lot of bad news in a management role and as an entrepreneur (and as a parent and spouse), there are times when you just want to shut out this kind of news.
Because it’s painful. It’s irritating. And it could cause more anxiety and frustration.
However, there is a really good part to “Bad News.” It can being many benefits by changing the process of how you approach problem-solving. I’ll be defining other terms soon about the steps you can take to “make Bad News turn good” (I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with creating Healthy Feedback Loops, and developing a Minimalist Manager mindset).
Be more open to hearing things that are unpleasant. Once you have the tools to process it without feeling shocked, surprised, or anxious, you can gain a lot of benefit, because you’ll be able to turn it into something positive.
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Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.