Don’t Shoot The Messenger: 5 Golden Rules For Bringing Bad News

We all hate to be the messenger of bad news, but unfortunately we all need to bring it from time to time. The way you bring the news can have a lot of influence on the person itself, the situation and possible solutions that might solve the ‘problem’.

Even with bringing bad news there are certain rules you can follow in order to bring the bad news in the ‘best’ possible way.

#1 – Don’t procrastinate

You have to tell it anyway, so don’t procrastinate. Most Career Girls hope that by delaying telling the bad news it will go away or the situation will improve. And 9 out of 10 times it won’t go away or barely improve and its not fair to the person(s) who are involved in the situation. So bring the bad news as soon as you can.

#2 – Don’t surprise the person 

Pay attention to timing and location. If you are at a network event or party, it is not the right time to bring the bad news. If it is bad news to 1 person, make sure you respect their privacy and take the person aside. Treat the person with dignity and respect and never bring the bad news over e-mail. Take time to talk with the person in real life at a appropriate time and location.

#3 – Be transparent and explain

Don’t hide facts, cause this will always backfire! Tell the whole story, be transparent and explain. Respect the person enough to tell them the whole truth. It is a natural reaction to try to make the ‘bad’ news as ‘good’ as possible, but it doesn’t help the situation. Hidden facts will always come out in the end, so it is always better to be transparent from the start so there can be worked on a fitting solution from the very beginning.

#4 – Listen

Listen to the reaction of the person, the questions and his/her side of the story or situation. It is  important that you don’t only talk but also listen. There might be new facts that the person brings up and could change the situation. And this is also why it is important that you take timing and location into consideration.

#5 – Try to focus on the positive or possible solutions where appropriate

Almost every situation has a solution. Focus on improvements and, if possible, the positives of the bad news. At the same time be careful with this, if the news is truly bad, it might be inappropriate to focus on possible positive elements.

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Credit: Forbes & Mindtools