Breaking bad news

imageI have just finished watching the box set of Breaking Bad. If you haven’t seen it, watch it, it’s brilliant.
Over the weeks of watching two, sometimes three episodes a night, I have noticed a change in my attitude when answering nuisance phone calls. I metamorphose into Walt White, the main character. “What part of “I am not interested in your solar heating panels” do you not comprehend?” I say in a voice laden with menace or “I would rather stick pins in my eyes than use your product.” before cutting off the follow up attempt to keep me talking.
This behaviour reminded me of an incident, many years ago. Overdosed on business technique seminars and sales training I tackled an electrician who had failed to provide my company with a quotation. As recommended, trained to be assertive, I stood at my desk as I waited for the phone to be answered, looking across the car park.
“Hello.” a faint female voice.
“Whom am I speaking to.” Find out the person’s name, use it when you talk to them.
“May I call you Margaret?”
“Now listen, Margaret ………..”
I complained about that George promised to meet the deadline, my disappointment that he hadn’t, the problem he had caused us, how we may lose the contact because of his incompetence…. blah, blah, blah…
I paused my tirade, to take a breath, reload with more verbal ammunition. Boy, was I assertive.
“Mr Wilson.” A sob.
“Yes, Margaret,”
“George, he’s …sob.”
“He’s what, Margaret?” Impatient, assertive voice.


“He died, on Thursday.”

Slumped over my desk, heavy with guilt I offered my condolence,  waiting for the floor to open up and swallow me up.

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