Supervisory Leadership

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How should I deliver bad news?

We teach a simple method for delivering bad news in a business setting in both my book and training classes for supervisors. Here are the basics.

Have a private place that's not associated with "bad news." In some companies there's a particular office where the bad news is always delivered. That makes things harder because your person's emotional defenses go up before they even know what the message is.

Set the person at ease in a way that fits the person you're talking to. Some folks like small talk. Others like to get right to the main issue.

Deliver the news in your best Joe Friday manner: just the facts. Leave out the adjectives and predictions.

If you're delivering a review of performance, state why the facts you've just laid out matter.

Pause. The next person to talk should be the other person.

I've found this to be tough to do for many people, but amazingly effective.


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