2.3 Delivering Bad News
Before we begin, how about a quick reminder of the five steps you can take to help make the delivery of this news go much more smoothly. For example, if your news is that a star team member is leaving consider looking up some potential canvas for the position. This means try to deliver the news during normal working hours, and not right before lunch, or right as they need to leave for their carpool, or to pick up a child from daycare.
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Welcome to today’s episode of Communicating Well Under Pressure. Our topic today is delivering bad news. Most of us do not enjoy delivering bad news to our colleagues, our leaders, or our team members. This does not mean you have to do it poorly. Delivering bad news is certainly a moment where you are under pressure and how you deliver the news makes all the difference in the world. Before we begin, how about a quick reminder of the five steps you can take to help make the delivery of this news go much more smoothly. Step 1, prepare yourself emotionally. It’s likely that you’re feeling anxious and stressed over delivering bad news. Take some time to calm down. Do not rush over to the person or persons and blurt out the news. You want to be able to calmly and clearly share the news. You might even practice how you will deliver the bad news. Take some time and consider what the news means to your audience. How do you think they will react? What is the best way to tell them? And how can you make this easier for them? Step 2, identify solutions. You have probably heard this before do not just bring problems, bring solutions too. This is sound advice. Try to come up with the few possible approaches that can help the situation. For example, if your news is that a star team member is leaving consider looking up some potential canvas for the position. Step 3, pay attention to setting and timing. Do not ambush people on their way in or out of the office. You want to deliver the news in a timely fashion, but this does not mean you overlook preparation. Select a location that is appropriate, for example the middle of the break room is not the best location to share difficult news. You want to provide your audience a safe space, a space where they can react without feeling embarrassed or on display. Select a time when your audience can really focus on your information. This means try to deliver the news during normal working hours, and not right before lunch, or right as they need to leave for their carpool, or to pick up a child from daycare. Email and text are not the best way to deliver difficult news. Deliver in person whenever possible. Step 4, be genuine. Do not express emotions that you do not feel. Do seek to be compassionate and do employ your active listening. Acknowledge the feelings that your audience may be feeling. For example, I can see where this news is very upsetting for you. Or, I understand that this makes you angry. If you had a part in the situation that led to the bad news, you need to take responsibility for your actions. Do not try to blame others or to misinterpret what has happened. Offer an apology if it’s appropriate to do so. Step 5, where appropriate, focus on the positive. Be very careful with this step. Your hair looks good today is not what we are after. Now, we have an opportunity to find a more qualified vendor, could be a good response to learning that a vendor you work with is going out of business. If there is some element of the news that could be interpreted as positive then point it out. Otherwise do not create false good news. Now let’s see how prepared you are to deliver difficult news using our five step process. Now it’s time to bring this episode of communicating well under pressure to a close. Before we do so, lets go over the five steps. Step 1, prepare yourself emotionally. Step 2, identify solutions. Step 3, pay attention to setting and timing. Step 4, be genuine. And step 5, focus on the positive. You can deliver bad news, and build working relationships. Thank you for watching.
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