I was in between flights at the airport when I got a call from Donna, the meeting professional of an event I was keynoting at in just a few weeks. I was happy to hear her voice, we had built a nice rapport, and was ready to jot down some details, but after the pleasantries, our convo took a turn as she broke the news to me – things had changed with the event and I was not going to be part of it anymore.
Shock. Process, process. Process.
I could tell she felt so bad, but it was beyond her control and the decision was made. I felt sorry for her that she had to tell me, it’s not fun delivering bad news. I didn’t want to make her feel worse, plus it’s embarrassing to cry in the airport, so I was very matter of fact, in an ‘oh it’s not a problem, I understand’ sort of way.
When we got off the phone, I put my head in my hands as my eyes leaked a little. I was so sad. It wasn’t just the loss of money, it’s that with such a personal thing that I ‘sell’ (me and my message), it feels like a very personal injury when you lose a job like that.
That’s when the lady behind me tapped me on the shoulder and began a conversation that would last over an hour and make me a new friend.
She introduced herself as Heather and while she said she didn’t mean to be eavesdropping, she couldn’t help but hear what had happened.
Turns out she had been hired for a nursing instructor position in Hawaii and for the last month she had been getting her life rearranged to take that job. Until yesterday, when they called her and told her there had been a change of plans and they were no longer able to offer her the position. We can all imagine how she felt. The loss of full-time employment in Hawaii suddenly made my one-day engagement in Reno not seem like such a big loss. Poor her!
But she was a positive spirit and even though her loss was just 24 hours old, she said she had an enchanted life, not that things were perfect but that she always had a roof over her head, a good job, her health and of course family and friends. She said the day she found out she was terribly upset, this was day two and she could feel things shifting already – like now she just had to figure out the bigger reason that this had happened and she assured me by tomorrow (and after she could find some black licorice) she would have convinced herself that hey had done her a big favor!
She shared what she has learned in life is that these situations happen because there is a change of circumstance, this helps her not take it as a personal affront. I like that idea. Not taking things so personally is great advice.
What she was most upset about was that they told her via an impersonal email, when she really would have appreciated a phone call with a more human component to it.
That’s when I thought about Donna, who called me to deliver the bad news. Donna, who could have sent an email a saved herself the stress of having to tell me and hear my voice and hope for the best while delivering bad news. Donna, classy move.
How do you deliver bad news? No one likes to receive it but having a planned, direct, compassionate conversation can go a long way for the receiver.
Making a personal connection, it’s just one more way to live Your Life, Unlimited!
PS – the fun news…I slipped a big package of black licorice into Heather’s bag as a surprise!