Don’t shoot the messenger

Attacking bearer of bad tidings is a mistake, poor form

It’s called “shooting the messenger”, blaming the one who delivers bad news when the bearer actually had little or no control over the situation.

It doesn’t help, but a lot of us do it anyway. Management consultants say it gives us the feeling that we’re doing something about a situation when we’re not.

Some people are easier to blame than others, like waiters, customer-service people, and anyone who has to convey bad news about an insurance claim. These people usually aren’t responsible, but they get the blame anyway.

Customer service people may have to tell a customer about a delayed shipment or a denied refund. The problem is that they may be less qualified to explain a problem than someone who is actually involved, which can make the customer more hostile than before. It’s a mistake to have someone do a job you or someone else should be doing.

You know that it’s vital to be informed about problems as soon as they become evident. If you become known for terrible reactions to bad news, it’s more likely that people will try to cover up problems or handle them however they can. But without your input and skill, the problem can fester and become worse.

Not only is it poor form to get angry with the bearer of bad news, but knowing the truth and knowing it immediately is in your best interest.

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