It seems like Hollywood has been following the same theme I have this past year–researching and creating works that focus on tough talks. As I wrote in a previous blog, and in several op-ed pieces, “Up in the Air” with George Clooney (both Clooney and the movie are Oscar-nominated) focuses on the tough talks that accompany job losses. He was a hatchet man who flew all over the country delivering the bad news.
I just saw a clip from another movie that involves difficult conversations–“The Messenger,” starring Woody Harrelson (Oscar nominated) and Ben Foster. “The Messenger” focuses on what would be my worst nightmare–notification of a the death of a loved one in the armed forces. Having a son who has returned safely from 2 tours of duty in war zones, I am so thankful that I never had to be the recipient of such a tough talk. My heart breaks for all those mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and children who have had to hear such news.
The clip I saw showed Harrelson telling Foster that it is essential that he use direct words when delivering bad news. Harrelson notes that people can misinterpret euphemisms (such as ‘passed,’ ‘left us,’ ‘gone away’ versus ‘died,’ ‘killed in action’).
Hopefully, you will never have to deliver — or receive — the specific bad news that is featured in “The Messenger.”
But when you do have to have a difficult conversation, make sure your message is understood by the recipient. Otherwise, you haven’t communicated clearly … which leads to the need for more tough talks.