How I dread these types of conversations. Unless you are an ogre, who in their right mind likes to deliver bad news? Examples such as: lay-offs, no bonuses due to slow sales, correctional evaluations, discipline processes, or business is booming therefore we need to work longer hours, are all reasons to fear these types of conversations. As business owners and responsible leaders, we have all faced this situation several times during our careers. As caring and compassionate people, many of us find ourselves in this precarious situation and consequently try to make the bad news easier to take. Surprisingly, many studies recommend that the worst way to deliver bad news is to sugar coat it.

Best practices say that the next time you need to deliver bad news, communicate your message simply, clearly and directly:

  • Prepare; craft your message to 20-30 words that sums up what you need to communicate. Avoid long philosophical and pontificating discussions.
  • Have a plan in place if you are discussing a challenging situation.
  • Show compassion, never anger.
  • Avoid trying to disguise the facts. Don’t use big words with ambiguous meanings. Use simple and straightforward language.
  • Be proactive, try and put yourself in your employees’ position. Think about anticipated responses and questions. Have your answers ready before they ask the question.
  • Be empathetic, show that you care.

Bottom line; you can’t change bad news, it’s better not to beat around the bush.

Ray Mattes
President/CEO Retail Alliance