Ever wonder how to pass upsetting information onto those you don't want to tell it to? If you're a leader, you know what I'm talking about. Management has decided to close a factory in Cleveland and move production overseas. Budget cuts are going to require a 10 percent reduction in the workforce. The company missed its revenue and profit goals--again.
While there's really no one easy way to best act as the bearer of bad news, there are definitely emotionally intelligent ways that will both soften the blow and make the reception a bit more palatable.
Keep in mind that the worst thing you can do is to hide or withhold bad news from others, thinking that you're doing them a favor by doing so. You're not. Treat them like the adults they are, and let them make up their own minds what to do with the bad news you're about to give them.
1. Watch your timing
There's never really a good time to tell someone something they don't want to hear. That aside, however, it is still always possible to be mindful of your timing. Try your best not to pick an inconvenient or overly busy time to pass the message on.
2. Don't put your defenses up
When we're upset by the bad news we're going to deliver to others, it's easy to put walls up that are hard for others to breach. Although this is a normal defense mechanism for many of us, it proves crippling in the long run, since we end up unable to connect with those we need to talk to on a more personal and direct level.
3. Try to simply say only what needs to be said
This goes both ways: Don't sugarcoat the news you're sharing, but also don't make the words harsher than they need to be. Try to stick to only what needs to be said--no more, no less.
4. Stay completely transparent
If the recipient understands that you're being one hundred percent genuine in your words, actions, and thoughts, then they'll be much more receptive to the things you have to stay. We are much more inclined to support and respect those we trust--so try as hard as you can to build that relationship.
5. Offer solutions
Even though what you may be saying is not at all enjoyable, offering temporary or plausible solutions to the negative aspects of what you're saying might be useful to the person in need.
6. Look for the silver lining
If at all possible, try to find the good in the situation. It's incredibly rare that we come out of a hardship without at least learning one thing--so make sure the person you're telling knows that.
7. Respect who you're talking to
We all grieve in our own respective ways--some of us through anger, others through withdrawal, and others through verbalization. Give the person you're talking to the space to do whatever they need to.