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Monday, March 20, 2006

How To Give Bad News

Often times in life we are faced with a situation that requires giving someone bad news. Sometimes it is because we have done something bad and must own up to it...other times it is because the person has a right to know.

We here at BDF are always trying to help people out. In that vein, we have decided to put together this little primer on giving bad news.

What to do when you are at fault? This one is tricky. It really depends upon the situation and the degree to which you are at fault.

For instance, maybe you are driving down the road. You begin fiddling with the radio because you have no desire to hear that one Kanye West song again. You look up just in time to see a five year old kid dash into the road chasing his basketball. With no time to brake, you swing the wheel to the left. Unfortunately, the kid darts in the same direction to avoid you. Direct hit. The kid...is toast.

Obviously, you should tell his parents. The problem lies in the fact that you don't know where he lived. You can't really just gather up his body and go door to door asking if this is their dead kid. That would be tasteless. But again, you can't do nothing at all. You should probably leave a note.

In a case like this, brevity is key. Simply gather the kid together into a pile...away from the road. You don't want someone else hitting him and making a mess of everything. Once piled nicely at the curb, simply leave a note that says "my bad" with your phone number. Now, run like hell.

I'm sure you will be hearing from his grieving parents forthwith.

Sometimes we get all caught up in the moment and forget to take certain precautions. This can sometimes lead to pregnancy...especially if you have been having unprotected sex. How do you explain to her parents that she has a bun in the oven? Or more, that you decided to remove the aforementioned bun from said oven?

In a situation like this, you have the choice of being downbeat and tasteful, or ribald and witty. Personally, I would go with witty. It makes it easier to accept the news. Try something like "Hey. You know how grandparents always have sagacious advice and make the best food? Well, keep on being ignorant and not cooking 'cause we got an abortion!"

If everyone doesn't start cracking up immediately, they clearly don't have a sense of humor. At this point, I would highly recommend that you point behind them and shout "Hey, look! It's Jesus!" and then run away.

What to do when you aren't at fault but still need to deliver bad news? This is an almost equally tricky situation.

What if your best friend is dating a woman who has been screwing around on him? As a pal, you know that you should tell him so he can end it and try to save some pride. Try this. The next time you are having a drink together (and if you don't regularly drink together, I seriously doubt the seriousness of your friendship) wait until you are two drinks into the evening before saying something along these lines: "Hey. I fucked your girlfriend".

As his eyes widen and anger mixed with horror begins to show on his visage, simply laugh and say, "Just kidding. I never fucked your girlfriend." He will relax now. "But three other guys did,"

Now you have opened the doors in a surprising way and you are ready to have a dialogue. Lay out everything that you know for your friend. If it starts to turn sour, point behind him and shout "Hey, look! It's Jesus!" and then run away.

How to deliver bad news to a child? These situations aren't as tricky as you might imagine. Kids are silly. Their attention span is amazingly small which allows them to be easily distracted. Try something like this, "Hey! Who want's ice cream? Not your parents 'cause their dead. Let's go to Dairy Queen!"

Their cheers will warm your heart. Kids really love ice cream.

We hope this primer gives you some good ideas the next time you need to deliver bad news to someone.

It isn't really all that difficult. We have one more important piece of advice for you. Remember, always...

Hey, look! It's Jesus!

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