How To Deliver Bad NewsPosted: June 10, 2013 | |
Things are going really badly on my project right now. I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to use the word “bad” to describe the status of my project, but “bad” is such an accurate description that sometimes I can’t help myself.
The good thing about having something go drastically wrong every other day is that you get a lot of practice delivering bad news. (And receiving it. Although I haven’t quite mastered that part yet because sometimes I just sigh and put my head down on my desk, which I’m pretty sure is not the right thing to do.) Being able to deliver bad news effectively is a really important skill to have because regardless of who you are or what your job is, something is going to go wrong eventually.
Here’s how to do it:
- Don’t procrastinate: People don’t like it when you hide things from them, and waiting isn’t going to make the problem go away. Just man up and get it over with.
- Don’t sugarcoat it: You’re not going to trick anybody into thinking that your bad news is not bad, so don’t even try. People will appreciate that you were straight with them.
- Don’t present problems, present problems with solutions: The most infuriating thing I deal with at work is people telling me about problems before they’ve figured out what to do about the problem. You may not be able to come up with a solution right away, but you can at least have a game plan for how to find one.
- Don’t dramatize it: I think that sometimes people get worked up about problems as a way to show that they care. But getting worked up doesn’t help you solve the problem, it just wastes energy. Show that you care by focusing on finding a solution.
- Don’t point fingers: Bad news is almost always someone’s fault, but pointing fingers makes you look petty. Explain what happened in objective terms and let people figure it out for themselves. Unless of course, it’s your fault…taking responsibility for your actions shows integrity, so if you’re to blame, fess up.