That Wasn’t So Bad

May 1, 2013

Have you ever feared giving someone bad news? Perhaps you needed to tell a friend that you lost something you had borrowed from them? Or perhaps you needed to tell a client that you weren’t going to be able to hit their deadline? I’d wager that just about everyone reading this has had to deliver bad news of some type during their life. And I’d also bet that most of us have felt a similar dread at one time or another. If you follow a couple of simple rules, it doesn’t have to be so bad.

Don’t use email.

If you’ve got bad news to deliver, try to get a face-to-face conversation, or at minimum pick up the phone. Email is a wonderful medium for communication, until you need to convey an emotion (or avoid conveying an emotion). (Here are some other times to not send an email)

Have a plan.

Think about what you need to say and who you are saying it to. If this is someone that only cares about the high-level aspects, don’t go into the weeds. Give some thought as to how to prevent the same bad situation from happening again.

Just do it!

Sure, it is a slogan from Nike, but it also applies to delivering bad news. Generally, bad news gets worse, not better. The sooner you can relay the bad news (assuming you’re not jumping the gun), the better.