How to Communicate Bad News


Your Challenge: How do you deliver upsetting or disappointing news to your team or your peers? Especially, how can you do it yet keep their spirits up, especially if there’s not a lot of good news on the horizon? How can you hold others up when you, as their leader, are down?


Proven Strategy: Be there in the pain and then be the pathfinder out of it. Everyone has to be the bearer of bad news at times, so learn how to do it and then how to get performance and attitude back on track with genuineness and integrity. Our steps give you the roadmap.

Here’s a sample of just one of the strategies you get:

Acknowledge your own negative feelings, before turning to the positive.
Just because you are the leader and at times the bearer of bad news does not mean you must be unaffected by events (which would come across as unrealistic or phony). The goal is using your emotions effectively to create space for people to process their reactions and then energize them for the next steps. Acknowledge to your team your own feelings of frustration and disappointment. Teams bind over shared emotions, so allow people time to vent. But then assume the role of getting the group on track again. Transition to learning and problem-solving as quickly as you can with simple words like, “Let’s study this lesson from the School of Hard Knocks. What can we start to learn? Where do we go from here?”

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