How To Break Bad News

All managers have to break bad news – it is simply part of the job because you cannot be an agent of delight all of the time! Redundancy, mergers, demotions, disciplinary meetings, change processes or just plain failure it has to be communicated.

Dismissals are also painful processes for both sides as is counselling and giving staff news that they do not want to hear.

Having a difficult conversation is a real skill that comes from practice and subtlety. It also requires considerable ability in using emotional intelligence and solid preparation.

The following 10 Points should help:

  • Prepare fully for the meeting and choose the right person to break the news
  • Always opt for one to one whenever possible
  • Avoid excessive pleasantries and get straight to the issue at hand
  • Be gentle – there is no point creating more upset than there will inevitable be present
  • Deliver and then let the message sink in
  • Listen fully and attentively
  • Allow the recipient let off steam – they will need to do this
  • Anticipate the questions that will inevitably come from the meeting – try to map out what these might be and what your answers will be
  • Always spend time checking that what you have said has been understood
  • Arrange a follow-up meeting if this is necessary

Good Luck!

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