Might your need to be better at giving bad news
be met by this London UK management training course
called Skills with People?
Yes if you agree with any of the following
- I hate having to give bad news.
- It makes me feel guilty and extremely uncomfortable.
- It doesn't happen often and I know it goes with the job, but whenever I have to give bad news I have sleepless nights wondering how I'm going to do it.
What you'll take away from this course
You'll have the understanding, skills and confidence to give bad news without appearing heartless or seeming not to care. The reason why this is so difficult is because when there's bad news the emotions can be overwhelming, both for the giver and the receiver. This course teaches you how to handle strong feelings.
If so, you can have a FREE exploratory coaching session. It'll give you a foretaste of what you can get from the course. You make no commitment to proceed beyond this until you're sure this training is relevant to your own particular need.
How to accept this offer
Simply contact us for a preliminary chat and to arrange your free exploratory coaching session.
What this session will do for you
In this session we'll aim to give you something practical you can use right away that'll help you handle a difficult situation more successfully at work. All you need do to prepare for this session is think about the kinds of situations you want to be able to handle more successfully.
You'll find answers to many of your questions about the content and method of this course under FAQs (in the main menu above).
How the skills you'll practise on this course
will make you more helpful and confident
when giving bad news
The heart of the matter
The two key skills you'll develop on the course, empathy and assertiveness, though they don't make giving bad news easy, at least make it a little easier, because they're both ways of talking about feelings and letting off steam. If this can be done in a safe way it makes feelings easier to manage. Your empathy helps the receiver of the bad news cope with the inevitable rush of emotion on hearing the bad news. Your assertiveness – that is, your frankness in admitting our own discomfort as bearer of the bad news – can give you the strength to proceed with this very difficult task and also save you from giving the impression you don’t care.
Here's a brief summary of how to give very bad news
- First, frankly and briefly warn them to prepare themselves for a shock.
- Then frankly and briefly admit how uncomfortable you feel having to give the bad news.
- Give the bad news undiluted, brief, clear and straight.
- Then wait for their response. Pay careful attention and have your empathy and assertiveness ready for when needed.
Of course, doing this under pressure isn't easy. Though these guidelines may make it look like a mechanical procedure, it's not mechanical at all - it's just a safe way of tackling a very difficult conversation step by step using both empathy and assertiveness. If you're genuine and honest this approach normally works very well. It enables people to receive very bad news without being overwhelmed by emotion. Our purpose in this course is to coach you to the point where you're confident you can do this.
Below are two examples of conversations in which you're giving bad news. They illustrate how you'll be trained and coached on the course to handle very difficult situations.
YOU (firm but with empathy): Come in and sit down, Dave. I’ve something to tell you that's bound to come as a shock.
DAVE: Sits down and waits.
YOU (assertive with empathy): I hate having to tell you this, but we’ve decided to make you redundant. It’s absolutely no fault of your own.
DAVE: Why, then?
YOU: Unfortunately the business is struggling and we have to cut costs.
DAVE: But why me?
YOU (empathy with assertiveness): I’ve been totally satisfied with your work and I’ll regret losing you. It’s purely that we can’t afford any longer to keep you on.
DAVE: Can I persuade you to change your mind?
YOU (firm and assertive): I’m afraid not. It’s been a painful decision made only after a great deal of thought. I wish it could be otherwise.
YOU (empathy): It’s obviously a shock.
YOU (empathy with assertiveness): There are probably questions you need to ask about your redundancy money and period of notice, etc. We can discuss it now, or if you’d prefer you can take time to recover from the shock and collect your thoughts and questions – and we can carry on later with this conversation. I’ll be as helpful as I can.
DAVE: I'm in a daze. There’s a lot to think about. I’d rather collect my thoughts and come back later.
(Note: This example is about how to handle the emotion in a very difficult conversation. You may need to check on your own country’s legal requirements about hiring and firing people before engaging in this conversation.)
YOU: Dave, come in and sit down. There's something I need to say to you. (Pause. Go slowly. Give him plenty of time to digest and respond to everything you say. Continue when he's ready.) What I have to tell you may come as a shock. It’s not about your work. I’m always very pleased with the way you do your job, and I’m glad to have you in the team.
DAVE (though slightly reassured, he's alarmed and braces himself for a shock): What is it then?
YOU: You may not be aware, but you have a strong body odour? It’s very noticeable to people in the office. I feel extremely uncomfortable having to mention something so personal, and this conversation must be even more difficult for you. I mean you no disrespect.
Pause, observe and listen, giving him time and allowing him to react, let off steam, and think.
(Note: A very small minority have a medical condition producing an unpleasant body odour that people find disturbing. While the problem may need to be discussed, it's as well to discuss it with care.)
Yet more reasons why you might benefit
from this training in how to give bad news
- Breaking bad news is very difficult. I don't know how to handle people's reactions.
- I'm nervous about having to giving bad news to my boss, telling him what he doesn't want to hear.
- Some subjects are very difficult to broach, because of people's emotional reactions.
- I would like to be able to tell it straight, but I often find myself trying to smooth it over, water it down, in order not to be too confronting.