Some Important Tips on How to Break Bad News
Bearing bad news…
Nobody likes to be a bearer of bad news but sometimes we find ourselves in such a position. Many people break bad news in a way that compounds the situation; they may be uncomfortable being the bearer of such news and may want to quickly get on with it. Others are so afraid that may postpone bad news or try to present it differently than it actually is. This is not a good idea.
Here are some tips for handling the uncomfortable business of giving bad news:
Prepare yourself: If the responsibility to pass on some unpleasant or tragic news has come to you, there really is no need to be indecisive about it. Prepare yourself and if possible rehearse what you may say; make up your mind that this you must even though it is unpleasant. This helps you to be calm and control the atmosphere when you pass the news.
Find the best time: Depending on your evaluation of a situation, you may need to pass on the news as soon as possible or wait for some time. Wrong timing of bad news has caused greater damages and even sudden death in many instances. You may need to wait until you have people around who can give consolation and support to the recipient or when they are alone. You may need to even give it in bits.
Be gentle but direct: When you break bad news, you should not beat around the bush especially when the person is anxious about what you have to say. Once you have gotten to that stage of letting them you have some news to share, you must get it over with quickly. Keep recipients of such news waiting can be torture. You must however use language that is gentle, calming not harsh or exaggerative.
Give only necessary information: Don’t share gruesome details of a tragedy if it is not important to do so, Don’t give the recipient(s) that do not serve any other purpose than to anger, incite or sadden them more. Bombarding someone, who has to deal with a tragedy or disappointment, with all the nitty gritty details is often too overwhelming for them. Make sure you exercise judgement is deciding what is necessary.
Show Empathy: When you are giving bad news, try to show some empathy. This is not the same thing as crying with them especially when you are doing so as a professional: even when you are involved with a situation, you can still show empathy. It helps to make the atmosphere more comfortable for the recipient.
Sometimes empathy means you may need to say something and at other, it may require you stay silent
Expect the unexpected: Grief, anger and disappointment can make people do strange things. It is better to vigilante so you don’t come to any harm because some news you’re trying to pass.
Know when to leave or stay: If you are not close to the person you gave the bad news to, you probably shouldn’t stay.
On the other hand, if you have to deliver bad news to someone who is quite close to you, then it may be in bad taste to leave like a stranger.