Thanks to a new study from Brigham Young University, science has determined there actually is a proper way that’s optimally effective to break up with someone: Be fairly brutal. Researchers asked 145 people how they’d respond to bad news delivered in different ways in a number of scenarios, including breakups. They rated them in terms of clarity, consideration, directness, efficiency, honesty, specificity, and reasonability, and they indicated which of these qualities were most important to them. It turned out the most valued qualities were clarity and directness—and the best way to provide these things was to cut to the chase with nothing but a short lead-in that hints at what’s to come. “An immediate ‘I’m breaking up with you’ might be too direct,” study author Alan Manning said. “But all you need is a ‘we need to talk’ buffer—just a couple of seconds for the other person to process that bad news is coming.” If most people understand this, then why aren’t we doing unto others? The reason people often provide a drawn-out song-and-dance approach to breakups is probably more about making themselves feel better, said Manning.
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