Monday, February 28, 2011

Break it to me gently

I had thought of using "Tell me on a Sunday, Please" as the title for this post, but I'm not sure that anyone would get it.  It's a song from a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  It's a woman telling her boyfriend or spouse how she wants him to break the news to her when he leaves her.  She wants him to tell her on a Sunday, please.  People recognize most things that need to be told gently - in those cases, it's figuring out what works as "gently".  But I want to talk (briefly) about recognizing that there are other things that should be told gently.  Sometimes you have good news that you want to shout to the world.  And you should go and shout it - to most of the world.  There may be one or more people to whom you should whisper your news. 

One example that you would expect to hear about from me is breaking the news that you are pregnant to someone who can't have children or who has recently lost a child or pregnancy.  There is probably no easy way to tell this person, but there are bad ways.  Like, don't send them an e-mail saying "hey check our blog today" so that they'll see the announcement.  A phone call would be much better.

If you just got engaged, be sensitive as to how you tell your co-worker who just broke off her engagement.

If you just got a new job, be gentle in telling your cousin who has been out of work for 2 years.

Your news is wonderful, congratulations - and you are truly a considerate person, a special person if you recognize that your wonderful news may highlight someone else's loss or hurt and you deal with that accordingly.  You're not a bad person if you don't , just normal.

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