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Learn how to deliver bad news

June 1, 2020

Nobody likes giving or receiving bad news, but there are simple ways to minimize the negative effects and highlight the positive side.

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Learn how to deliver bad newsLearn how to deliver bad news


Regardless of whether we give personal feedback, tell a customer that we don’t have a due date, or need to correct someone else’s work, we’re all afraid of giving and receiving bad news.

Why? Because people have a tendency to do so negativity;; That means the bad news affects us a lot more than the good news. The researcher Roy Baumeister explains: “It is evolutionarily adaptable that evil is stronger than good because survival requires the urgent consideration of possible negative consequences.”

This is the reason why caution should be exercised in the transfer. Here are some tips to reduce negative effects.

1. Stay positive

Research shows that people who hear negative information in a positive tone are less defensive. For example: The Pixar animation studio lets its creative teams go through several in-depth critical sessions while making a film. Instead of concentrating on work that does not meet the highest quality standards, team members provide critical feedback on potential areas for improvement. Nobody sees it as a personal attack.

2. Concentrate on the facts

The most effective negative feedback is one that is supported by verifiable facts. These make the news less emotional. For example, if you need to tell your team that the company has lost a customer and needs cutbacks, identify practical reasons why the customer left and describe how things should change. This keeps the conversation focused on specific actions and avoids presenting the news as a personal loss.

3. Know the recipient

Ask questions about your recipient’s thoughts and feelings about bad news. This has two purposes. First, to make the news a conversation between two actors; an exchange instead of a frontal attack. Second, you get a better understanding of their reaction. In this way you can design a solution to the problem tailored to the person.

4. Help them improve

After bad news, measure the response of the recipient to see if they have a growth philosophy. basically a belief in your own ability to improve. Someone who has it will feel motivated to improve the situation; Someone who does not do so will act defeated. If the person feels defeated, encourage them with specific reasons why they can recover from what happened and provide explicit ideas.