A man named Phil had never taken even a day's vacation. He never married--all his life took care of his elderly mom and his beloved cat. Friends and family urged him to get away just to relax a bit. His biggest concern was who would look after the cat and who would ensure his mother was fine. Phil's brother stepped up to the task and Phil was happily off on a long vacation.
His first day out, Phil called his brother and immidiatly asked about the cat. The brother replied he was very sorry but the cat had died.
Phil was devastated. How did this happen? "I don’t understand", he cried. "The cat was healthy. I took care of it so well. I am gone one day and it's dead?"
His brother explained that the cat ran out to the street and it was struck by a car.
Phil was crushed. He wept profusely. When he finally composed himself, he told his brother that he really should think about how he presents bad news to people. Since he was going to be gone for several weeks, he told his brother, "you could have said something like, 'The cat is on the roof.' In a day or so you could add "We've had trouble getting the cat down from the roof."
Then a day later, you tell me, “the cat fell off the roof and died.” In that way I'd know that something was up and at least I'd be a bit prepared for the news.
The brother apologized and said he would work at being more considerate in the future.
So Phil then asked about their mother. "How is she?"
After a pause, Phil's brother said: "Uh, Mom's on the roof."
The moral of the story: Sometimes we are so cautious not to communicate directly, that in the end, we make things worse. Sure, always be considerate and sensitive; be gentle and respectful, but be direct with people. Communicate clearly, authentically and honestly. Exaggerated diplomacy is often a cover-up for insecurity.