How To Bring Bad News

In ancient Greece, the messenger was killed if he brought bad news. Today still, any messenger of bad news faces great opposition. A well-formulated message can however prevent the worst of consequences. This post tells you how to minimize damage effectively by being honest, giving hope and encouraging action.

A. Present the facts

Leaders who lie or circumvent the truth don’t have credibility. Bad news should be presented honestly and all facts should be included. Moreover, the severity of the situation should not be played down but be confirmed. People should feel that you take their problems seriously. For instance, if you have to fire someone you should be honest about the reasons behind it and show understanding for the resulting trouble.

B. Show there is hope

People should not be left with just troubles. You should explain and emphasize that not all is lost. You can do this well by speaking of past hurdles that have successfully been taken or by emphasizing your trust in your public’s ability to cope with problems.  In the example of a dismissal, you could explain how other fired employees found new jobs or how you think this person specifically can succeed in life.

C. Encourage action

Only action can solve problems. Also, action keeps people busy, preventing them to spend their time on being angry. Challenge the people who suffer from your plans or news to take action and deal with the consequences. It would help if you show willingness yourself too. For a fired employee for instance, it would greatly help if you motivate him to accept the challenge of getting recommendations and look for vacancies.

So, you can bring bad news well by being honest about the disappointment, turning it into hope and encouraging people to turn hope into action.

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