Everyone has to do it at some point, some much more often than others. But is there really a 'good' way to give bad news? Well, ideally all news would be good news. In reality, you can take an uncomfortable situation and turn it into something you can handle, really, with these five tips.
1. Make sure your emotions don't make it harder. "If you share your giving of bad news with guilt or any other emotion you will find that it hits the other person a lot harder,' says Hale Dwoskin, CEO and Director of Training of Sedona Training Associates. "So the best way to give someone bad news is to first release any feelings you have about what you are about to share as best you can."
Not sure how to release? The Sedona Method is an elegant tool to show you how.
2. Show empathy. Listen to what the other person has to say, and express your sincere condolences. Be patient while they absorb the news.
3. Save the details for later. When giving bad news, it’s best to be straightforward and unambiguous. However, in many instances it’s unnecessary to relate every last detail all at once, and may in fact be better to let the person absorb the brunt of the news before you drown them with the details.
4. Expect the unexpected. Upon hearing the news, the other person may lash out at you. They may burst into tears. They may be speechless. And any one of these reactions is OK.
“Let go of any dread or expectation as to how the person will react and be open to however they do react to the news,” Dwoskin says. “The best way to deal with whatever reaction does come is to simply welcome it within yourself and welcome it within the other person as best you can.
5. Accept whatever reaction the person has. “If you grant them the right to feel the way they do it will make it easier for them to deal with their emotions -- and it will make them more open to a positive outcome for all involved,” Dwoskin says.
If you find that you are one day on the receiving end of bad news, there's help for that too. Read through this past article about how to best handle your emotions when you learn really bad news.