Have you ever gotten bad news but in the end things turned out well or better than you anticipated? Have you ever received good news and over time what you thought was good news ended up being not so good?
From personal experience I can tell you that I have experienced all four –
Good news that was good.
Bad news that was bad.
Good news that I thought was good but ended up being bad.
Bad news that I thought was bad and ended up being good.
Confused yet? Well I know that over time I was often confused about the difference between these two apparent opposite messages. But then I learned that sometimes bad news for one person can be perceived as good news for someone else and that good news to one person over time can be perceived as bad.
Confused? Let me explain.
In the end it’s just news and what makes it bad or good or even neutral is not the news itself but how we perceive it, judge it, evaluate it or react because of it.
How can someone perceive bad news as good you might ask? Or the opposite, how could someone perceive good news as bad?
In brief – each of us has a unique history, experiences, beliefs and values and as a result none of us ever see the same thing or circumstance in the same way.
Someone who is a worrier, negative, pessimistic or impatient might see a delay as bad when another person who understands the concept of there are things we can control and there are things we can’t control so why get all upset about something you can’t control or if you can control it get busy.
In the end everything that happens – just happens and what we do is interpret it all based on our expectations, goals, needs or mindsets and all of these are unique for each of us.
Let me give you a couple of personal examples. And if you will consider the explanation even though you may not have had exactly the same circumstances, if you will think about it I’ll be you can relate.
Prior to staring my speaking and training career I was a national sales manager for an international organization. Long story but the short side is I had an issue with my boss, the president and as a result he fired me. Bad news, right? Well that was all I needed to decide it was time to begin a career that has lasted over 40 years and has allowed me to see the world (25 countries to date) and work with some tremendous clients and audiences. So in the end this bad news was really good news.
Here’s another quick one.
Years ago I proposed to my wife and she said yes. Good news right? (No judgments here please). Well over time after doing my best for more than fifteen years I decided that it was time to end it and why? Well, without the gruesome details, the relationship was gradually eroding my self-esteem, confidence and optimistic mindset and I decided that I didn’t like who I was becoming in that relationship. We parted, amicably – but we parted. Good news as I was able – over time – to regain all I had lost – emotionally and spiritually.
We all have our stories and we all can create lists of good news and bad news we have received but in the end it’s all just news.
During some of my corporate programs I share this simple concept – stop asking your employees for good news or bad news – just ask them for the news and then you decide which it is. Because their definition could be completely different than yours.
And vice versa – as an executive or manager don’t broadcast – I have some good or bad news – just tell your employees you’ve got some news and let each of them interpret it as they see fit based on their personal viewpoints, attitudes, mindsets, experience, expectations and how it might impact them personally.
I want to make it clear here that I’m not talking about denial, surrender, acceptance or apathy – just the willingness to see that there may be another side of the story, one you may be missing because of your history, viewpoints, opinions, judgments etc.