Delivering bad news is one of the most difficult things to do, especially when you care for the person to whom you’re delivering it. When delivering bad news, many people just wing it, and they end up making the situation much worse than it has to be. It’s so important to know what to do and what not to do when delivering unpleasant news, so you’re prepared the next time you have to be the messenger. Continue reading for 7 must-know dos and don’ts of delivering bad news.
Table of contents:
- do prepare
- don’t leave out important information
- do consider the environment
- don’t joke around
- do treat them with empathy
- don’t give advice unless asked
- do tell
1 Do Prepare
When delivering bad news, you must prepare! If you don’t it’ll be really easy to get flustered and tongue tied, and you won’t be able to deliver the news effectively. Plan out and write down what you want to say, and practice it a few times before you approach the person. You’re going to want to be clear and fluent when telling someone something that’ll affect their lives.
2 Don’t Leave out Important Information
Nothing is worse than getting bad news, coming to accept it, and then later finding out that the person who delivered it to you kept information from you! When delivering bad news you have to tell the truth, and the whole truth, for everyone’s sake! I know it’s hard, but withholding information from the recipient is a huge don’t!
3 Do Consider the Environment
It’s important to consider the setting when delivering bad news, because that could play a huge part in how the recipient responds to the information. There will probably never be a perfect time or place to deliver bad news, but it’s important to choose the best possible place, manner and time to tell the person the news. Here are a few unacceptable places, manners and times: In public, via email or text message, with humor, or when the person is in a bad mood.
4 Don’t Joke around
Humor has no place when delivering bad news. It may be really hard, because when many people are nervous or stressed they use humor or laugh. If you’re the one delivering the news, you have to pull yourself together. When you joke around when delivering the bad news, it tells the other person that you find their circumstances funny, or not important. If you are someone who laughs when you’re nervous, it’s so important to practice, practice, practice! Be courteous, respectful, and serious when delivering bad news, so you don’t accidentally downplay the person’s situation.
5 Do Treat Them with Empathy
Kindness and empathy are musts when delivering bad news. It’s important to try to see the other person’s perspective and understand how they’re feeling. This will help in your preparation and delivery of the bad news. Be careful not to get too wrapped up in the emotions, because it may cause you to want to protect that person, which could lead to lying or withholding information.
6 Don’t Give Advice Unless Asked
This is a hard one! After you’ve delivered the bad news and your friend cries on your shoulder, keep your advice and suggestions to yourself unless the person asks for it. Giving unwanted advice can cause the other person to get angry and resentful, and you don’t want that to happen! When you have to tell someone their dog Froo-Froo is gone forever, they don’t want to hear about the other poodles on sale or how to get over her! Unless the person asks “What should I do?” and waits for you to respond, don’t say a word! Just be there for that person.
7 Do Tell
It’s never fun delivering bad news, but if you’re burdened with that responsibility, go through with it, especially if you really care for that person. You may not want to tell them because you want to protect their feelings, or you don’t want to see them upset, but it’s never a good idea to keep it to yourself. Have some faith in the person, enough to tell them; they may not take it as badly as you think. Tell them the news and let them handle it the best way for themselves.
I hope you’ve found these dos and don’ts of delivering bad news helpful. The next time you have to give your friend, family, or co-worker troubling news, keep the dos in mind and avoid the don’ts. Can you think of any more dos and don’ts of delivering bad news? Share!
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