“Good News Bad News!”

When folks say, “I have good news and bad news…” which should come first? Should good news precede bad, happy follow sad? This depends on whether you’re giving or receiving bad news, and if the information is intended to modify behavior or to calm a moody bruise.

More than ¾’s of receiving folks want bad news first, so a good news finish trumps the worst.  The endings principle foretells preferential finales that are uplifting rather than signals of sad farewells.

Conversely, the majority of giving folk choose delivering good news initially as a token serving of sugar before dispensing the bitters of unpleasant information judicially. Few relish providing bad news, yet all too often there’s an associated failure to recognize that folks waiting for the negative “shoe to drop” struggle with making mounting anxiety stop.

The beneficial order of Good News Bad News depends on where we are in life, as well as if the mood need soothing, or behavior need changing. Conveying good news first, then bad news last functionally encourages behavioral change.  This is like saying “you can lose weight, but if you don’t, heart disease or diabetes will certainly shorten your healthy life range.”  More so when receivers hear ending news that causes upset, chances are higher they’ll fix the unwanted threat. 

Considering if the sandwich cookie method of good news bookending bad news effective, we would need to compare it to a sandwiched message like your blood pressure is improving but your blood sugar is gravely high while your total cholesterol is normal.  This may occasionally work if mild calming is the objective. But sandwiching bad news generally confuses recipients by casting shadows on any light, that could bring behavioral reform into manageable sight.

It’s a Funny Feeling to know endings shape our judgment. Hearing good news last guides, us from sad to GLAD.  But hearing damaging news last, motivates us to alter what’s unsettling and BAD.

Copyright 2018 Alan P. Xenakis, MD, Doc X MD and Audra RN Funny Feelings