10 Commandments of Delivering Bad News

In Communication, Leadership, Management by Jim DawsonLeave a Comment

Have you ever had to give bad news to someone and it not go well? Did the other person get upset or react in a way you did not expect? Think about a time where someone had to give you bad news. What do you think could have made the biggest difference in how you would have received it? When it comes to communicating with others about something hard or bad there are some very clear tactics that you can use to make sure that it goes as well as possible. Pay attention to your body language and tone as these play a much larger role in communication than we may think. Following these 10 Commandments will help to prepare you for these tough talks.

Thou Shalt Never Surprise

Bad news should never come as a surprise. Give as much warning as possible so that they can be as prepared to talk about the news with you. Allowing them to prepare for the conversation will help them to communicate with you more successfully as well.

Thou Shalt Never Delay

Deliver bad news without unreasonable delay. As soon as you know that you need to give the bad news do so immediately. Otherwise the situation can further escalate as it was not dealt with in the most timely manner.

Thou Shalt Never Hide the Facts

When hidden facts become public—and they always do—people will look worse than if all the facts had initially been disclosed. Be straight forward with bringing the facts to the table for your sake and theirs.

Thou Shalt Always Put It In Writing

Having good records will help you to keep track of situations, how they developed, what escalated them, and will help to illuminate applicable solutions. Make sure to also keep clear written communication with others in situations where it is necessary.

Thou Shalt Always Justify

Justification should include specific reasons for the bad news. When communicating bad news to others it is important to be clear and specific so that the other party can make improvements or to otherwise understand why a decision was made.

Thou Shalt Always Look for a Silver Lining

Though often criticized as spin, emphasizing positive and temporary aspects of news can increase morale and motivation. Often your bad news will be better received when you can also present options or other kinds of feedback that can turn a negative into something more positive.

Thou Shalt Always Bring Solutions

Present solutions or an action plan to solve the problems that led to the bad news in the first place. Most situations can be resolved so make sure to put focus on what can be done instead of only looking at the obstacle or problem.

Thou Shalt Always Remember Your Audiences

Remember that bad news never reaches just one, it reaches many audiences. Think ahead on how this could affect others of your team before presenting the news.

Thou Shalt Always Follow-Up and Follow-Through

Track and communicate progress made in resolving the problem that led to the bad news. This is not just beneficial for you but also for them. As they see their own progress they will feel more motivated in making further strides towards even better results.

Thou Shalt Always Treat People with Respect

Dignity and respect not only make morale sense, they make business sense. When you treat people with respect and appreciate their efforts they are more willing to go even further for you. Respect is key for optimal performance.

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About the Authors:

Jim Dawson is a top trainer at Encore Consulting Group and is a recognized national expert in human functioning in the workplace. He is a speaker, corporate trainer/facilitator, columnist, and author. As a presenter/speaker, he has addressed and impacted the lives of thousands of people and achieved impressive results for his clients.

Trushar Mody. A Warehouse Of Knowledge to Share: Trushar Mody (known as Mody), is an accomplished business entrepreneur and mentor with over 35 years of experience in the printing, manufacturing, real estate, finance, retail, nonprofit and service industries. He is a thought leader in the field of Emotional Intelligence (EI) as it applies to business success.

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