Are you about to deliver bad news to someone?

Over lunch last week, my client and I spent much of the meal talking about how he wasn’t looking forward to having to let go of a number of his staff over the next few months.

We agreed that he was lucky to have got so far in his career and not had to go through this process before.

I have been on both ends of the redundancy conversation and frankly neither is much fun.

Whatever the economic situation and whatever your role, you are likely to have to deliver bad news of some sort to others. It might be as big as telling someone their role is no longer needed or seemingly minor, that something is out of stock, but still bad news to the recipient.

And whatever the news, the anticipated response can make it even more difficult to deliver.

Over many years I have run an exercise on our assertiveness workshops when we discuss what you want when receiving bad news.  And invariably the same points come up (I created our delivering bad news eBook based on the top 10).

There are some obvious ones like … Take the initiative and don’t let me hear the news on the grapevine! And less obvious ones like … Don’t keep apologising.

But the one that comes up most frequently is … Take responsibility. Don’t blame others for the decision.

It often feels easier to not be the bad guy. You know the sort of thing that’s said … “If it had been up to me …” or “I don’t know why the company/HR have decided this but ….” or worst of all “I wouldn’t have done this but unfortunately the decision has been made”.

At best you come across as a mere messenger and no-one wants to talk to the monkey instead of the organ grinder!

If you have to give bad news make sure that you do it with authority; it is always easier to accept if the person telling you agrees that it is the right thing to do.

I hope you don’t have to give too much bad news but if you really don’t feel comfortable then have a look at our delivering bad news eBook first.

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