As the title implies, bad news is never good (because it would then be called… good news!). The context in which you deliver the news is important, as with anything, but these tips are good guidelines for giving anyone some less than stellar news.
1. Make direct eye contact
As cliche as it may sound, it is preferable for the receiving party to be seated. To avoid appearing intimidating or overpowering, make sure you sit down as well. The delivery of bad news should always be as gentle as possible. Sitting down with the person you're speaking with can make him or her feel more at ease because it conveys the impression that you genuinely care and want to break the news as gently as possible.
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2. First, take care of yourself
It's never a good idea to break bad news to someone while you're upset. First, try to calm yourself down. If you begin giving bad news to people while you are emotional, you may forget to include all of the details. It may make the news appear worse to him or her, and you may make him or her feel uneasy. Before you begin, ensure that you are calm and composed. Take a few deep breaths and mentally prepare yourself for what is about to happen.
3. Try to maintain a neutral demeanor
This is especially true if you have little or no personal connection to the news. If the person receiving the bad news is the only one who is affected, try to remain neutral. Stick to what you know and avoid getting too caught up in one side of the news.
4. Be well-prepared
Before you begin speaking, practice what you're going to say. If you prepare ahead of time, you will be more likely to remember everything and to say it in a composed and logical manner. It's critical that the receiving party understands everything, so make sure you're ready to tell that person everything he or she needs to know.
5. Speak at the appropriate level
Adults should not be treated as children, and children should not be treated as adults. Before you speak, make sure to assess the situation and the person. Talking to someone who is above or below his or her level of comprehension will only make the bad news more difficult to accept. Worse, it may give the impression that you don't care enough to take the time to properly converse with the person.
6. Make use of facts
Bad news is emotional, and it can be perplexing for the person who receives it. Give reasons and evidence for what happened or what went wrong. He or she will be completely informed this way. If something can be done about the situation, the person will be fully informed and will be able to proceed from there.
7. Do not bargain
If something bad happened, that was the end of it. Giving someone false hope or making something appear better than it is will only make things worse. Keep your cool in the face of the situation and tell the person exactly what you think.
8. Offer assistance
Remember to be understanding and sympathetic to the situation. Offer any assistance you can or refer him or her to someone who can. Let the person know that you understand how difficult this news is for him or her to hear, and, if appropriate, tell him or her that you understand what he or she is going through. In difficult times, simply having someone express sympathy can be extremely beneficial.
9. Make suggestions for solutions
Inform him or her if something is repairable. It is always best to remain optimistic, and if there is anything that can be done to improve the situation, keep that option open. If action is possible, it is often the case that it should be taken.
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