Breaking The Bad News

There’s a lot of lessons in tech translate into life lessons in general. One of the best one I’ve learned is breaking the bad news.

Breaking the Bad News, aka Front-loading the Pain, is a critical skill to hone if you want to be successful in tech (or in life). Learn to tolerate it.

When I was younger in the tech industry, I always feared missing a deadline or an estimate, so much that I wouldn’t mention falling behind until there was no way to recover. I always believed (from a mixture of optimism and naiveness) that I would be able to catch-up. Sometimes that was true, other times it led me to overwork, and it always led me to over-worry.

In life, you may have to call a creditor to explain you can’t make your bills this month, or have serious conversations with a friend or partner. All of these are some forms of bad news.

In all the situations however, Breaking the Bad News is hardly bad. Managers will appreciate an honest update on projects, creditors will work with you to pay off bills. The earlier you break bad news, the better it is.

But the outcome is good in a far more personal way. Whenever I break bad news I’m always amazed at how the reactions aren’t even close to the bad scenarios I was expecting. To quote good ole Seneca, “We suffer more by imagination than by reality.”