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How to be Tactful

Perhaps you heard about the husband who lacked tact. Early one morning his wife left for a trip abroad...and that very day their poodle died. When she called home that evening, she asked how everything was—and he bluntly blurted out, “Well, the dog died!” Shocked, she chided him through tears for being so tactless, so strong.

“What should I have said?” he asked.

“You should’ve broken the news gently, perhaps in stages. When I called you from here in New York, you could have said, ‘The dog is on the roof.’ And the next day when I called you from London, ‘He fell off the roof.’ The following day from Paris, you could have told me, ‘He is at the vet’s...in the hospital.’ And finally, from Rome, I could have then been informed, ‘He died.’”

The husband paused and thought about the advice. His wife then asked, “By the way, how is mother?”

He responded, “She’s on the roof!”

Charles R. Swindoll, Standing Out, (Multnomah Press, Portland, OR; 1983), p. 79

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