Yesterday I went to see Oz the Great and Powerful with my daughter. I was reminded by watching it how much I dislike a coward. It is ok to be afraid, but to be a coward is an unpleasant spectacle to watch. Not to burst your movie bubble, but Oz is a bit of a coward, who, of course, overcomes it just like the Lion did so spectacularly in the first go around.
Here's the thing, none of us like dealing with confrontation, dissapointment, pain, suffering, or making other people hurt (if you do you are a psychopath and need to read something else). It is hard to deliver bad news. It is hard to deliver news that even when not necessarily bad we aren't sure how the other person is going to react. In fact, we are probably more worried about how other people are going to react than dealing with the news itself. That fear causes us to do stupid things.
- We write short or long emails that cause more suffering to the reciever because they can't understand the tone.
- We leave voice mails that are not clear or are and crush the listener.
- We text people to break up with them.
This has got to stop. We are better than this. If you notice it is technology that has allowed us to deliver news that is difficult in a manner that gets us of the emotional hook. We can just push send and we are done. We don't have to experience the other person receiving the news at all.
But we are missing out on something. We are missing out in our ability to connect and be part of the fabric of humanity. We are missing out on the problem solving. We are missing out on comforting others.
In the 1980's middle managers across corporate America were being let go left and right and they were committing suicide at a rapid rate. Because of those tragedies most human resource departments will not allow employees to be let go on a Friday. Why? Because there is too much time to ponder the terrible before you can get back on your feet Monday morning to conquer the possible. They also don't allow you to fire people without giving exit interviews. These are not fun. I have personally let many people go and I know that those conversations in workplaces are painful and filled with raw emotion, but it is our responsibility to manage them with as much care and professionalism as we can muster. We learned it can be the difference of life and death.
So, stop breaking up with people over the phone. Stop with the shitty email and pick up the phone and talk to the person. Better yet, make an appointment to see them face to face. When we start facing our own stuff about delivering bad news we can move from a place of cowardness to a place of respect. Every single person on the planet deserves us acting as our best selves even when it is difficult and we deserve the chance to grow by facing our own fears.
It's time, people. Let's start being real grown ups and stop hiding behind technology. Let's talk face to face. Let's work to find solutions or paths that work for everyone, becasue last time I looked we were all in this together.