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How to give people bad news

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Delivering bad news to people is hard, especially when you don’t agree with what you have to say, writes Amy Gallo for Harvard Business Review. It’s natural to feel conflicted, but you have to learn how to navigate that tension if you want to rise through the ranks. Here are some tips to help you.

•  Prepare. Make sure you know all the information regarding who made the decision, the other possibilities, and if it was appealed so you can credibly answer people’s questions.

•  Be direct. People are more likely to respond to direct answers than to uncertainty. Your body language and tone can convey misleading information.

•  Explain everything. Be open and explain the decision-making process. When the people know a decision was reached thoughtfully, they are more likely to accept it.

•  Let them vent. As the bearer of bad news, your role is to absorb some of the emotion it prompts. Let people express their reaction without debating the decision.

•  Help them with their next step. After a break for processing, let people know you are still available to help.

— Adapted from “How to Deliver Bad News to Your Employees,” Amy Gallo, Harvard Business Review.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Petros Rigas September 14, 2015 at 4:18 am

One technique I found helpful is to always prepare people prior to delivering such news. You may want to write a short email providing hints about the topic you wish to discuss. You may also want to mention that you have suggestions you’d like to discuss and ways things be better than is expected. Delivering negative news can always be softened by the amount of positive initiative you show and reveal through your message. As long as you’re suggesting positive means of how things can get better, the message becomes a lot less difficult to deliver.


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