Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NT Planet: Shooting the Messenger

In this Dilbert strip, the manager makes clear that he doesn't want to receive bad news, and thinks that someone who gives it to him, knowing he would feel upset, must hate him. He certainly wouldn't want such a person working for him.

For us, news is news as long as it's true and relevant, and it's only rational to meet bad news head on. For many NTs (and even some of us), news is also an emotional connection. NTs don't separate facts and feelings as readily as we (tend to) do, and often associate the messenger with the message.

The old saying about killing the messenger who brought bad news wasn't hyperbole - in ancient times, that line of work shortened your life expectancy. (These days, you may "just" worsen or lose, say, a friendship, relationship or job.)

So when communicating negative information, especially to an NT, don't assume it will be obvious that you didn't cause the situation - even if you say it in so many words. Either dress it up to a greater or lesser extent in euphemisms and understatements, and maybe put some positive information before and after it, or know that the other person may become angry with you and treat your news as an attack on them.

(PS: Many more people act this way than realize it. People tend to tell themselves they're much more rational than they really are. Most people "understand" that they shouldn't blame the messenger. Many people do it anyway, for reasons too complex to discuss here...though if anyone asks for elaboration, I'll be glad to do so.)

1 comment:

Geniferous said...

NTs also place great importance on tone of voice. If you're unable to communicate with the "correct" tone of voice, you need to explain this to the person you're criticizing so that they understand that your criticism is intended to be constructive, not hostile.