A somewhat depressing, but soothing, observation is that people are mainly redistributors and amplifiers of pain, not its creators.
After studying those who’ve been hurt by unfortunate circumstances in their lives, their current behavioral mechanisms at play seem less puzzling. Allowing outside negativity to chip away at your positive internal outlook isn’t a path of least resistance as much as it is an attractive mistress which provides a temporary comfort.
Life’s unfairness is difficult to simply sit and do nothing amidst. It’s difficult to just observe being a victim of life’s misfortunes. Our lack of autonomy in the face of life’s plethora of available negative outcomes is a devastatingly powerless state.
This article is about people who’ve let unfortunate circumstances in their lives encourage them to take pleasure in others’ misfortunes.
Specifically, this article is about dealing with people whom you deem to relish the opportunity to give you bad news.
This article assumes you to have a healthy and solid understanding of who around you might fall into this category. This is not an advocacy of nihilism and pessimism around the subject.
An unhealthy mindset to adopt is one which assumes everyone giving you bad news to be secretly enjoying the process. On the opposite end of that spectrum is being naive to the fact that there will be some who do in fact derive pleasure from reporting bad news. The balancing act is yours to perform.
Below are methods you can use when you deem someone to be relishing in the process of delivering bad news.
Accept It Quickly: You Can’t Solve a Problem While You React to Its Existence
Your internal process of acceptance is integral in the effort to communicate your understanding of the bad news being delivered. There are no shortcuts to communicating a peaceful understanding of bad news. You will find yourself having to practice accepting and actioning new information, even if that information causes pain. The goal of genuine acceptance is to derive comfort from an internal source, rather than seeking comfort from elsewhere in the face of bad news.
A habit that can come back to bite you when bad news is delivered is to seek comfort from the messenger of that news. The issue with seeking comfort from the messenger of bad news arises when that messenger takes pleasure in delivering that news. Their act of deriving pleasure is a blanket term which can mean a variety of things. The pleasure they derive may stem from competitive, vengeful, and envious feelings.
In the right scenario, a disingenuous messenger of bad news can take advantage of your vulnerable state by misleading you, providing false closure, and encouraging improper action.
Where you derive your sense of comfort in the face of bad news is thereby an important protection mechanism against those who find joy in your suffering. By practicing peacefully accepting outcomes out of your control, you will limit the pitfalls you fall into when the deliverer of that news takes a sadistic pleasure in seeing you react.
On the flip-side, you will also limit the emotional baggage you stack on top of the messengers of bad news who genuinely care for your well-being. You’ll limit worry in members of your family, and will be a pillar for others affected by the bad news to lean against.
Cut It Short: Explicitly Show Your Understanding of the Bad News
Individuals who’ve grown to enjoy being the bearer of bad news seem to attempt to savor the act of delivery itself. They typically have a tendency to lengthen their delivery of a juicy piece of bad news by repeating themselves, and encouraging your surprised inquiries into the bombshells they drop.
Their tendency to stagnate on your reaction to the news they’ve shared with you may become evident. They may be overly comforting in their dialogue even though you don’t show any signs of distress. They’ll say cliches which further make you feel like a victim to the news, and their efforts to make you feel better about the news they deliver will begin to feel condescending and victimizing.
If your goal is to limit them from savoring your vulnerable reception and victimizing your response to that news, quickly signaling that you fully heard and understood the news is an important step.
Rather than enticing them to extend their delivery of a particular piece of bad news by asking unneeded questions and looking for comfort, communicating your understanding of the totality of the news is key.
Communicating that you got the message in full doesn’t need to be rigid or overly direct. You can simply thank the individual for telling you and assure them that you understand their message. In essence, a quick signal that you got the message will cut out any excuse the messenger of bad news has to keep harping on their delivery.
The messenger’s likelihood of deriving pleasure will decrease as you quickly accept and understand their message. You’ll also limit yourself from falling victim to seeking comfort from the messenger in reaction to the news. Your explicit understanding and acceptance will motivate you to limit an emotional response to the news and will cultivate a desire to move forward with solving the problem that has been introduced.
Own the Problem and Call Out Biases Which Intentionally Complicate Your Solutions
As you begin to move toward a pragmatic solution to the news communicated to you prior, the messengers of that news may stick around to witness the preliminary stages of problem solving.
You may need to gather the necessary details prior to working toward solutions, and may need to interview people close to you on what courses of action are best to take in response to that news.
Those who enjoy the pain they bring in association with the news they deliver have interest in making the trek toward a solution more difficult than it should be.
That tendency may come out in the initial stages of your analysis around a problem they just introduced with their news. They may tag their opinion on matters which are now entirely yours to act on. Their biases may show, and their efforts to complicate your trek toward a solution may expose themselves in implicit ways.
It may be necessary to call out their opinions as not being of additional help when you deem them to be biased. Doing so may entail stating your intention to perform what you deem to be right even though their opinion suggests otherwise. State the reasons why their opinion is detrimental to the search for a solution and how pessimistic it may be.
It seems that explicitly letting someone know that their biases only exacerbate the issues at hand discourages them from voicing additional negative opinions. It brings attention to their way of perceiving the situation and assigns a certain identity to that individual which they wouldn’t be interested in propagating.
Don’t Celebrate After Things Are Better
You may have done a good job in solving the problems that bad news gave birth to. Your reactions may have been unemotional and productive. You may have remained even keeled in your analyses, and solved any problems with efficiency and precision. All that takes work and focus.
Once you’re sure that you’ve solved the issues which have plagued your thoughts, you can find yourself being celebratory. A celebration after curbing the effects of the bad news can entail simply breathing out a sigh of relief or commenting on how difficult it was to internalize the bad news someone else delivered.
A celebratory expression still communicates what transpired prior to have been bad enough to warrant a celebration of its summation. Your celebration as you successfully navigate the pitfalls can devalue the hard work you placed in being rock solid in solving the problems without feeding into another individual’s desire to see you suffer.
Remember, the goal of discouraging people around you to relish in the face of you receiving bad news isn’t an immediate one. Portraying an image of strength in the current moment is simply a tool to curb their behavior going forward.
Celebrating your act of defeating the issues brought to your attention encourages the more deceitful individuals to keep poking at your unemotional, objective problem solving skills down the line. They’ll see your exhalation after the fact, and will consider themselves to have been successful in at least causing you some discomfort.