Delivering Bad News Effectively With Three Simple Points

Delivering bad news effectively and clearly

When your job requires you to deliver bad news, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. The wrong way can make you and your company come off as uncaring, as if you enjoy routinely crushing hopes with a shrug of the shoulders. I call that the torture method, and it goes something like this:

“Hey, how are you? I wanted to let you know that things did not go exactly like we hoped… You know, in this topsy-turvy world we live in, it’s just sometimes a roll of the dice!”

That’s the torture method.

We need to get past the fear of delivering bad news and go with what works! And here it is, in three steps.

Step 1: Connect to how the person may feel. What have you lost that was of great value to you? Get in touch with your compassion. (Everyone has it — even you!)

Step 2: Realize that you have a job to do and, before you make the call, make sure your tone of voice is caring and matches your compassion.

Step 3: Be straightforward and compassionate with the facts. Your delivery might sound something like this: “Unfortunately, your loan was not approved. There were a couple of factors involved…”  (Then state the facts with kindness.)

The job of delivering bad news is very important and can be done with dignity if you keep this crucial formula in mind:

Preparation + compassion = dignity.

16 Responses to Delivering Bad News Effectively With Three Simple Points

  1. Dale Suslick says:

    This is right on … The key is making the time for the prep time.

    Great post.

  2. Luckily these steps can be applied to non-business situations in everyday life as well. Great stuff! Thanks.

  3. Warning Tape says:

    Hey!
    Really great stuff. I concur all suggest complying with the idea.
    Great sharing.
    Thanks.

  4. The news, “You’re fired!” is hard for me to give well. Because I’m expecting a fight, I get nervous and defensive. So I probably come across as unsympathetic. And, in these awful financial times, I’ve got to do it again soon. Any advice?

  5. This is excellent advice. I often have to tell my clients a reporter isn’t using their quote, or they won’t be included in an important roundup piece. It’s SO hard..I’ll use this from now on.

  6. That’s very useful article, thanks!

  7. vinay gupta says:

    Looking at title it looked like its a humorous article, but you have mentioned very nicely about how to deliver bad news,
    you have mentioned really good points about success. do you have any ebook to look into.

  8. i realize that i have a job to do and that must be matches my compassion.
    thanks mate

  9. GREAT advice! With this economy, I’m sure bad news is delivered every day…

  10. Reviewulver says:

    Very useful tips. But I think the more direct and short are served so much bad news quickly recovered from them. If I have to report any bad thing I just told him. If someone told me that I have not fired up my sympathy but will have to find a way to get a new job. Maybe if the bad news is reported with some optimism and positive attitude will be more enjoyable. For example: Takes you refused, but you can try another bank where you will most likely grant loan

  11. AFN says:

    Pretty much consider the bad news, and how you are going to deliver before you do. Pretend your the one being told and ask “how would I want to be told the bad news?”. You don’t want to have a doctor walk into the waiting room filled with people and blurt out “Ms Robinson, your son just died on the table.” and walk off.

  12. cerita lucu says:

    Good Advice.. everyone want to be succes.. but its hard to achieve.

  13. denis prior says:

    great post you have certanly give me some good advice.

  14. That’s usefull aticle. Thanks

  15. DigitalGirl says:

    Haha, the first time I read “just” the title, I really thought it was about delivering bad news when some one passed away or something. I work in the medical field and its one of the things they teach in medical school. I just was googling and looking for other ways. Nontheless, I think your technique will also work in other fields of work too.

  16. been visiting your site around 3 days. really like your posts. btw i am conducting a study about this subject. do you know other great blogs or online forums in which I might get more? many thanks.

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