"Nobody likes to give bad news, but it's part of the job. People don't get promoted, they don't get a pay increase, and sometimes they even get fired, and you get to be the messenger. No one likes this part of the job because it's really unpleasant.
So what do we do? We try to make it less painful, and when we do, we make things worse. Here's what you don't want to do:
- Don't beat around the bush, because people feel ambushed and manipulated when you do.
- Don't sugarcoat, because it only creates confusion.
- Don't try to soften the blow, because you create false hope.
- Don't editorialize, because all it does is promote speculation.
- Don't apologize, because it suggests that someone has done something wrong.
- Don't negotiate either, because it encourages debate.
- Don't make it about you, because that's really insensitive.
- Don't make promises, because when you do, they're viewed as an apology.
Here's what you do:
- Prepare in advance, this includes picking the right time and place to deliver the news.
- Get to the point; tell people upfront that you've got bad news.
- Focus on the facts; give the information they need to know as succinctly as possible.
- Give people time to process; you have to let the news set in.
- Listen to them; let them think and process their emotions out loud.
- Empathize; go ahead and acknowledge how they're feeling.
- Answer their questions, but don't speculate. If you don't know, you don't know.
- Be compassionate. You can show sympathy and concerns for their wellbeing, but you have to support the decision and you have to support the decision maker.
One last thought; follow the golden rule; deliver bad news to others the way you'd want it delivered to you."