On Monday, I shared three things that everyone needs to know how to do right now. And here are a few more…
How to Deliver Bad News: Unless you’re a sadist (or my old boss), you don’t like to tell someone bad news. I mean they shoot the messenger, don’t they? But at one point in your life, either professionally or personally, you’re going to have to tell someone some not so pleasant news. So you might as well do the best you can, right? When faced with telling someone (your friend) bad news (that you broke her prized Batman vase), you should start the conversation by listening. Yes, listening. Ask open-ended questions like, “How’s it hangin’?” or “What’s happenin’?” or if you’re in a professional setting, “How are you?” or “How’s your wife/husband/significant other?” Be attentive when the other person is talking. Building up a level of trust before you break the bad news won’t necessarily soften the blow, but it will make the other person feel more comfortable. Now comes the hard part: your turn to talk. Make eye contact, look calm even if you don’t feel it, and try to use a word or phrase from the other person’s last sentence. This signals that you were actually paying attention to what they were saying, again, instilling trust. With bad news comes strong emotions; your job is to legitimize these emotions, no matter what they may be. For example:
Friend: You broke my vase. You BROKE my vase. YOU broke MY vase. *turns bright red and grabs nearest object and chucks it at my head*
Me: *ducks* I’ve mad you angry. This must be absolutely awful.
Friend: Thank you for empathizing with my emotions. By doing so, I feel like I am in a safe place and that my emotions are legitimate.
Ok. So maybe that’s not how that situation played out, but you understand the gist of it. Finally, don’t get overly emotional yourself. You can’t let your emotions or the person’s emotions interfere with the message. If you have to fire someone, you can’t stop firing him or her just because they’ve started with the waterworks. But, you MUST acknowledge their distress, hopefully creating a safe space wherein they feel that their emotions are acceptable, and you feel comfortable relaying your message. Being the bearer of bad news sucks, but for the person who’s receiving the news, it’s a million times worse, so take care and be respectful.
Know Basic Geography: when I was in high school, a girl in one of my classes once asked me if Louisiana was a state or city. Let that sink in for a minute. Yeah…Knowing the basic geography of your country and the world will completely eliminate you looking like this girl. I’m not saying that you need to know the capital of Djibouti (it’s Djibouti by the way) or even where Djibouti is, but knowing that Africa is a continent and not a country, or that Argentina is in South America will prevent you from asking your boss “Where’s that?” in response to her asking if you want to take a business trip to Buenos Aires. When I have time to kill but don’t feel like wasting my brain cells on the Jersey Shore, I go to a quiz website called Sporcle. The great thing about Sporcle is that it’s not just about geography; in between taking a US capitals quiz, I can take the “How Many Harry Potter Characters Can You Name in 5 Minutes” or “Which Transformer is This?” quiz.
How to Safely Use a Hammer: you don’t want to be the person who has to call their parents or their significant other just to hang up a picture, do you? You also don’t want to be the person who ends up with a broken thumb or a hole in the wall because you missed the nail when trying to hammer something for the first time. Here’s a handy dandy video to help you with all your hammering woes.
What do you think? What are some things that you think everyone should know how to do? Leave a comment below!