CARE-ing Communication - Delivering Bad News with Finesse

Updated: March 09, 2010

When delivering bad news, whether to an individual in a performance review, to a large employee group, or even to family members or friends, the important thing to know is that it is often the manner in which the news is delivered that is remembered, much more than the actual news itself. With the right delivery, even negative news can have a positive outcome. There is a simple formula to follow: take CARE when delivering bad news.

Confidence - Plan your presentation before delivery. Be calm and deliberate as you speak to your audience, which will convey your confidence that even though the message has a negative connotation, you are confident in an ultimately positive outcome.

Authenticity - Be yourself, even in the awkward position of being the bearer of bad news. By embracing the reality of a negative truth, and yet remaining consistent to core values, you will impart empowerment rather than helplessness to your audience.

Rationale - Do your research. Know your data. Give your audience the factual reasoning that resulted in the decisions being shared with them. Once people have an understanding of the why, then they can move on to the what's next.

Empathy - Even though you are in the very uncomfortable position of being the bearer of bad news, the truth is it's not about you. You have had time to plan, to become confident in your course of action, to absorb the reality of the facts and impending negative outcome. Your audience has not had the same benefit of time. Understand that they are being dealt a blow, and in that moment, it's all about them. By conveying this understanding to you audience, you will help them move more quickly through any feelings of hurt or anger over the bad news, and on to their next steps forward.

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