When you have to deliver bad news to someone, follow this protocol that medical doctors use to tell patients about dire prognoses: Find out how much your "patients" already know. Are they familiar with the background problems that led to the decision you're about to announce? If not, fill them in. Respond to emotions. Don't lapse into clichés ("I feel your pain"), but saying "I understand how this news may make you feel" shows that you've considered the impact of the news you're delivering. Specify a follow-up step. Have outplacement counselors or other support providers available immediately to provide support. — Adapted from "A Recommended Protocol for Giving Bad News," a publication for medical students at the University of Washington.