Breaking Good News

Recently I came across two interesting articles that at least touch on Breaking Good News.

The first is aptly entitled “Breaking good news: an essential skill for avoiding too much medicine?” in which Avril Danczak reflects on the ways in which we sometimes present good news as bad news. “Unfortunately, your ultrasound scan is normal.”  A good read!

The second is a nice piece by John Pavlovitz entitled “With the Time You Have Left” There’s a lot of good stuff in there.  For our purposes, note in particular how he responded to good news:

Note, even after good news he wasn’t able to absorb more info.


The answer is that it doesn’t matter whether the news is good, bad, or neutral.  What matters is his emotional state.  The relief he felt about the good news had high emotional content and that needed to be attended to.

In this case, perhaps he didn’t miss anything important, or maybe he did…

Even if he did not miss anything important, at the very least that doctor wasted whatever time he invested from that point on.

To be fair, what did the doctor do well?  I’d say he gave a good, clear headline.

Now…What might he have done differently?

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