7 Overlooked Ways to Deliver Bad News

MegaphoneNo one likes to deliver bad news. It's uncomfortable, stressful, and often leads to tears, or shouting, or tearful shouting, or thrown staplers, or getting hit in the head with a stapler thrown through a veil of tears. Traditionally, bad news has been delivered in one of two ways: 1) Awkwardly, and often preceded by the phrase, “This is never easy to say, but,” or 2) Terribly, often by e-mail, text message, or through a friend.  The next time you must bear bad news, save yourself some trouble, and use one of these oft-forgotten methods guaranteed* to deliver the news quickly, efficiently, and with as little stapler-pain as possible.

1. Singing Telegram – Yes, they still exist! (I assume.) And there’s no better way to commemorate a traumatic moment than with an upbeat, high-spirited ditty penned special for the occasion. “Dear Cindy, your cat ran out to the woods today / You’re in for a big surprise / After ten feet, she was hit by a car / They didn’t even yell sur-prise!” Tears from some. Applause from most.

2. Megaphone – Traditionally a tool used for crowd control or by silent film directors, the megaphone can prevent a great deal of crying time when you have your next messy break-up. When you enumerate your boyfriend’s shortcomings loudly and publicly, to a restaurant full of strangers, he won’t have time to beg and plead and try to guilt you into staying with him. He’ll be too busy running for the door and pretending like he doesn’t know you. Warning: The megaphone is a powerful bad news delivery-tool and should be saved for the most dire, and most potentially entertaining, situations.

3. Body Paint – For some reason, this high-effectively communication medium has been unjustly relegated to sporting events. But you can change that. The next time you have to make cutbacks at your failing start-up, don’t force the latest victim of your hubris to suffer through another apology disguised as a pep talk. Round up some chubby staffers and have them spell the phrase, “DISMISSED WITH CAUSE!” across their chests. Everyone will have a good laugh and get a jump start on the job search. Obviously, you’ll still need a lot of employees to pull this off. Don’t save it until the end.

4. Skywriting –  It’s not just for forced apologies anymore. The ethereal nature of the sky-written word allows you, the bad news bearer, to deliver your painful, awkward message in the most fleeting and difficult-to-read way possible. Best saved for messages you do not want used against you in court.

5. Ransom Note –   When you must deliver some truly awful news, and you'd prefer to remain anonymous, the ransom note is the way to go. In order to avoid a soul-crushing sense of guilt, think of it less as a terrifying way to destroy a former friend or loved one, and more of a chance to exercise your arts & craft muscles. Cutting out letters from magazines can be fun! Remember to wear gloves. Also, remember to keep your ransom request reasonable.

6. Billboard –  If you need bad news delivered next week, and you need the whole town to know, then a billboard is for you. Printing your message in words thirty-feet high saves you the trouble of having to actually speak to a person. And keeping the billboard up for a year saves you the trouble of having to repeat yourself.

7. Chant – This method requires charisma, teamwork, and a strong sense of rhythm. Not everyone can start a chant. Not everyone who starts a chant can build it to the proper crescendo. It takes some work, some faith and a whole lot of luck, but when you hear an entire movie theater chanting, "Your Grandma Died! Your Grandma Died!"  and you look at your wife’s face and realize that the words are sinking in and you have been saved the burden of  telling her about the death of her grandmother, it will all be worth it. Just make sure to hide the staplers when you get home.


*Guarantee not real.

Ryan Callahan is a current DCH student who loves crime novels and pro wrestling. He’s the brains behind WikiFakeAnswers.