When I was a little kid and got what I considered a bad grade (let’s say a B+) at school, I would sheepishly come home and start to tell my mom. She could tell I had disappointing news, and she would invariably ask me, “Was it a C? A D? An F?” Hearing her offer some low expectations was a relief for me, and it made me easier to tell her, “I got a B+”, and she would tell me it wasn’t so bad, and we would talk about it. For a little boy, it was a weight off his shoulders. And she did it that way every time.
I suppose, or at least I hope, it was her way of making it easier for me to tell her the news. Thus, in a strange way, telling her something bad was magically transformed into what I felt was actually pretty good news. Hearing her suggest that I might be reporting an “F” but instead giving her a “B+” made me feel good again. It was a curious, but clever, psychological trick.(more…)