Bad news comes in myriad forms. And sharing it is never easy.
Whether you’re telling a client the project they’ve been working on will not be going forward, quitting a job that was developed for you, or letting your family know you are ill, kindness plays an etiquette-ful role by putting others first in your immediate consideration.
Your news will change another person’s view of the future and will be immediately perceived in a negative way.
Kindness lessens the immediate effect of stress and anxiety for others when bad news is shared. There is no better time to be kind.
No matter what the bad news, these kind actions will be called for:
Bad news typically receives an emotional reaction because it is unwelcome, distressing, and sometimes even life-altering.
There are also times when the messenger (you) may be confused with the message. In other words, you may be personified as the bad news, which may cause the person receiving the news to label you as a “troublemaker,” “the enemy,” or “self-centered.”
This is why unpleasant news is best delivered as briefly, clearly, and cleanly as possible, keeping in mind that compassion and empathy will also be required on your part. And while the tendency to delay anything that is uncomfortable, stressful, and difficult is great, it is best to share your news as soon as possible.
As you rehearse and visualize the delivery of your message, consider the questions, observations, or perceptions the person receiving your information may have and prepare your answers and clarifications.
When you’re ready, carry through . . .
Part of being human is facing the times when we will need to share or receive bad news. And we never know how we might respond to unwelcome information. Hopefully, we will never be expected to paste a smile on our face or have to process everything right away.
Unfortunate news is rarely accepted immediately, at least not on an emotional level. When sharing it, be prepared to repeat some or all of what you have said.
In situations where loss is experienced, you may witness another person not being her best self. Always aim for kindness and compassion. And though it may be remembered that you are the one who shared in this difficult moment, the respect you show will be remembered as well.