How to Serve Bad News Wrapped Up in a Bow

Nobody likes receiving bad news. But there is a formula to master in order to deliver it in a pristine way. Learn how!

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Employee Confrontation

During some point or another, you are going to find yourself having to give bad news to someone. If you are a manager, then you can consider having to do this frequently. There are easier ways to deliver difficult news. Here are the top 5:

1. Don’t Let it Linger

Often times, people find themselves avoiding the individual they need to sit down and deliver bad news with. By letting it linger, it will fester in your mind and create distress for you. You are doing a disservice to both you and the individual by letting it linger and avoiding the conversation.

It actually may cause things to get worse. For example, if you need to tell an employee that they are missing the mark on certain tasks and you let time go by before delivering the news, they could have created a deeper whole for themselves. Or time can also lesson the mistake and you both forget what news you are even delivering, when possible, always deliver the news in a timely fashion.

2. Create Privacy

Before delivering unpleasant news, you want to ensure just you and the individual are the ones joining in on the conversation. A good way to do this is by pulling the employee into your office or asking the individual to step aside or even go outside.

The last thing you want is to create a hostile work environment by having information spread about an employee. By creating privacy, it will allow for you to go deeper into the problem at hand.

3. Look the Person Directly in Their Eyes

Don’t let it be awkward. Look the person in their eyes and be clear with the information that is presented. The last thing you want is to come off as naïve or unclear. The goal is to have the person understand what is wrong and walk away with either clarity or ways to resolve the issue. By looking at the person in the eyes, you will be able to better deliver the information in a precise manner.

4. Rephrase Your Words

Instead of pointing out that this is their weakness… rephrase it by saying your regards in a more positive light. For example, instead of saying weakness you can rephrase this to say “area of opportunity”. By letting your employee know they have areas to work on, it comes across in a more uplifting manner.

5. Don’t Beat Around the Bush

If you are delivering bad news, don’t beat around the bush. Get straight to the point. The employee may already be feeling nervous if you the manager are speaking to them in private. Sure, ask how their day is going before delivering bad news, but don’t chat small talk the whole time. This will only make matters worse. Instead, get straight to the point first and then you can small talk afterward.

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