BAD NEWS – and how to deliver it

14th May 2019

Here’s how NOT to deliver bad news:

“Hi Jane. How are you? Good weekend? … Kids ok? … Great. Any holidays planned? … That sounds lovely. Anyway, the reason I called you here is to tell you you’re sacked.”

Clearly, the person telling Jane felt awkward. So they danced around news – asking irrelevant stuff. They probably convinced themselves it was nicer for Jane. Well it wasn’t.

Instead, when you have to deliver bad news, remember the #1 rule:

       Speed helps

So, be speedy with your intro. A big chat about Jane’s family and holiday doesn’t help anyone.

One way to give bad news is:

  1. A speedy intro. Like “There’s no easy way to say this, but…” or “I’ve some bad news…”
  2. State the bad news – as empathetically and quickly as possible
  3. Be silent for 3-5 seconds. Give time for the news to sink in
  4. Ask a question. Get her speaking. Find what she’s thinking. (Also, she won’t want to hear you justify it for ten minutes) Questions like “Are you ok?”, “Have you any questions?” etc

Nobody enjoys giving bad news.

But it’s something we all have to do sometime. So be speedy. Be nice. Be respectful. And get it done.

Action Point

Got bad news to deliver?

Deliver it! Don’t procrastinate. Just get it done.

And if my four steps will help, use them!

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