How to Deliver Bad News: Top 5 Ways to Soften the Blow

How to Deliver Bad News: Top 5 Ways to Soften the Blow

By Susan Berkley

"When delivering bad news, how do you soften the blow?" This excellent question comes from VoiceCoach subscriber Mary-Grace Vendola at horsesmouth.com , a newsletter for stockbrokers. Unfortunately, most of us will be faced with the unpleasant task of delivering bad news at some point in our lives. Maybe a client’s stock has cratered. Maybe profits are down and layoffs are imminent. Maybe medical tests reveal a life threatening illness. In delicate situations like these, few of us know what to say or how to say it. Here are the top 5 communication strategies used by compassionate leaders in times of crisis:

  1. TELL THE TRUTH
    We tend to fear what we do not understand. Put the situation into perspective. Give as much information as you can about the who, what, when, where and why. Don’t speculate. Squash rumors by addressing best case / worst case scenarios.
  2. PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES
    It’s useless and na├»ve to tell the other person not to worry. They ARE worried and maybe even panic-stricken about how this crisis will affect them personally. Don’t leave them guessing. Give them all the facts.
  3. ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR FEELINGS
    Don’t invalidate their feelings by telling them to cheer up. This is not a time for humor. Let them vent. Negative emotions must be dealt with before they can be replaced with a positive plan of action.
  4. TAKE CHARGE
    Outline a specific plan of action. Keep your fears to yourself. Assume the mantle of leadership.
  5. UNIFY THE TEAM
    Facing a crisis alone can be terrifying. Encourage the group to pull together and share ideas about how to find a solution. Conclude the meeting on a positive, optimistic note by reaffirming commitment to overcome the adversity.


Copyright 2012, The Great Voice Company. All Rights Reserved.

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Susan Berkley is a top voice over artist and founder of The Great Voice Company, a company devoted to teaching great voices around the world how to become successful voice over actors. The Great Voice Company is an international leader in voice over training and in providing top quality voice over recordings in all languages to discerning businesses and marketers. For additional information visit www.greatvoice.com.

Copyright 2012, The Great Voice Company. All Rights Reserved. How to Deliver Bad News: Top 5 Ways to Soften the Blow.

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