I consider myself a “glass is half full” kind of person. I’m pretty optimistic about life.
I’m also fairly discerning, listening carefully to determine what a speaker is about to say, preparing myself for what’s next, always hoping for something positive.
I think many people are like this, but for those readers that could use a little assistance in this department, here are some clues you’re about to get bad news…
In the office:
One statement that should make your arm hairs stand up is “It’s been brought to my attention that…”
I have worked in the corporate world for decades, including corporate communications, and I have never seen this statement followed by good news, ever! Good things stand out, bad things get brought to the boss’ attention. A close second to this statement is anything starting with “Until further notice…”
Also pay close attention when your boss talks about “opportunities” for you. This word is often used as subterfuge for “We have more work we’d like you to do, at your current pay, with no extra assistance.” If you choose to buy into it, buyer beware.
And when asked if you have the “bandwidth” to take on something, know that there’s no way to answer except, “yes,” because a decision has already been made that you’re going to be given more work. It may sound like you have a choice, but you really don’t, and saying that you don’t have the bandwidth could be viewed as not having the energy or mental capacity to handle additional responsibilities or, worse yet, insubordination.
“Honey, we need to talk.” This one should make you stop in your tracks. Something is up and it’s likely not good. Best to get it over with now. Putting if off will only add fuel to the fire. This statement is right up there with “We need to have a family meeting” and “I think you should sit down”.
Another doozy is “The doctor would like to see you,” and the oh-so obvious “I have good news and bad news”.
And when you hear “This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you,” there’s a good chance it’s going to hurt you more, so hold onto something strong, quick.
And last but certainly not least, be on the lookout for the dreaded “but”. In fact, at home or at work, most phrases that start positively then insert the word “but” in the middle, are likely not moving in your favor. Take for example “I’d like to offer you the position, but,” or “I thought we’d be together forever, but”. A well-placed “but” can be a real downer.
So, there you have it… a few clues to bad news. They’re more subtle than “We regret to inform you,” but they’re out there. So stay positive, keep your eyes open and your head up. Joy comes in the morning.