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How to handle bad news with grace

Sometimes, life hands you a big ol’ bucket of lemons. And yeah, it totally stinks. Maybe your school district decided to cut funding for your ultimate Frisbee team, or your best friend’s parents decided to move across the country. Maybe Mom and Dad can’t pay for an expensive session at the overnight camp you’ve been going to for years, or you’re gonna have to deal with your least favorite cousin all winter break long. Whatever the sitch that life sends your way, here’s how to handle ugh-inducing bad news with grace.



Step One – Take a deep breath

Seriously. Breath in, hold for a five count, breathe out, hold for a five count. Don’t think, just breathe. OK, now that you’re no longer in danger of passing out, school your expression (because let’s face it, sometimes bursting into tears just isn’t the best response). Remember, you don’t have all the facts yet, so don’t overreact. And keep breathing.


Step Two – Reassure the person giving you the scoop

Your world might just be splitting in two…and the person who’s delivering the breaking news knows that, and is probably terrified that you are going to come apart out the seams. You don’t have to be fake happy, but do reassure them by nodding as you taking in the situation and moving forward.


Step Three – Ask for more information

Don’t dwell on the OMG-ness of it all. Instead, get as many facts as you can. This is where reassuring the news-breaker comes in handy. When they aren’t busy worrying about you, they can more coherently lay out the details. Ask as many questions as you need to, and if the person you’re talking to doesn’t know the answer, calmly ask who might and how you can get in touch with them.


Step Four – Come up with a game plan

So, whatcha gonna do about it? In a lot of cases, you probably have two choices: You can either accept what’s happening and move on, or you can come up with a plan of attack. Decide what makes the most sense, given the situation, and stick with your choice. No matter which option you select, carefully consider all sides of the situation, and realistically ask yourself if your response is reasonable. If you need a  some time to make a rational decision, don’t be afraid to take a breather.


Step Five – Letting go

There are things in this world that are completely out of our control, from what the cafeteria serves for lunch on Thursday to what’s going on in the Middle East. Sure, there are certain actions we can take to influence certain events, but we can never guarantee that life is going to go our way. And so it’s important to learn how to acknowledge that there’s nothing more you can do, that you gave it your all and it’s time to focus your energies on another project. Letting go isn’t a sign of defeat, so don’t feel guilty or disappointed. Letting go when there is nothing more to be done is a smart choice to make…and that one is totally in your hands, chica.

BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 10/23/2012 12:00:00 AM

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