Giving Bad News - Skills Training for Managers and Professionals

Training for managers under pressure

Skilful Handling

Skilful Handling

Discover how to create a positive, encouraging, and supportive atmosphere, motivate with honest feedback to calm difficult people, inspire enthusiasm, and handle disagreements.

Building Relationships

Be taken seriously, and earn trust, respect, and cooperation.

Emotional Intelligence

Develop skills for dealing with different personality types, handling sensitive topics, and managing conflicts with ease, become assertive while remaining empathetic in conversations.

Refine your communication skills by learning to harness your emotional intelligence with one of the UK's most acclaimed management training courses.

Why Choose This Training?

More Than Just A Course Of Lectures

What gets in the way of developing and holding on to new communication skills are old habits of thinking and speaking. Even if the advice is very good the reason why it rarely sticks are the mental habits people inevitably revert to, especially under pressure.

Unlearning those old habits and internalising a more effective and lasting approach to communication needs more than a short course of lectures on how to do it.

What Makes This Training Stand Out?

What makes this training stand out is the exceptional support through one-to-one coaching sessions and continuous feedback. Changing behaviour is not an easy task as old habits are hard to break.

With a 40-year track record we can help you cultivate practical skills, and build your confidence to so you can successfully navigate real-world challenges, ensuring lasting behavioural improvements.


Join thousands of participants getting results

"What I love about this course is that I didn't just learn about the topic, this course is about ME.  I'm confident I can reliably use my new skills, even when under pressure".

5 stars

A Project Manager At A Tech Company

"A lesson for life! The power of effective communication is incredible when one masters the skills "listening with empathy" and "speaking assertively"

5 stars

A Project Quality Engineer

Clients We Have Worked With

Well-known companies who have used this course again and again, over many years

  • Amgen 3
  • BBC
  • aunt bessies
  • Cargill 2
  • Heinz Logo 3
  • Civil service
  • NHS 2
  • Kelloggs Logo 2
  • IGT
  • JM 4 copy
  • Schweppes 3 logo
  • Castrol 3
  • Dewhirst 2
  • avon logo png
  • Nestle Logo
  • RSPB Logo 2022
  • Shell
  • UNHCR 3
  • unilever 2
  • BP 2
  • FBN 2

Course Summary

Training Objectives

This course is designed to help you become more confident in delivering bad news effectively. You'll develop empathy and assertiveness skills to make giving bad news easier. This includes warning the receiver, admitting discomfort, giving the news straight, and being prepared with empathy and assertiveness.

Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

You will learn a set of powerful emotional intelligence communication techniques so that you can manage difficult conversations, handle challenging situations, build relationships and set firm boundaries.

Transferable Skills

The goal of this training is to equip you with the tools they need to build strong, lasting relationships in your professional life, although because these skills are so transferable many clients report vast improvements in their personal relationships as well.

Develop Skills

This is a skills development rather than just a theoretical programme, so the emphasis throughout will be on you taking turn after turn, practising your skills, while receiving feedback and coaching about your effect on others.

Repeated Practice and Feedback

In your coaching sessions you will be helped to practise dealing with the kinds of situation you find challenging, again and again, until you are confident you can do it successfully.

Video Analysis

We'll combine practical, hands-on experience with video replay and analysis and discussion of the principles involved to help you gain both skills and understanding. Special attention is paid to your individual training needs, so you can practise your skills in real-life situations that you have to handle at work.

Sustained Change

That's why as well as your place in a small group, this training includes a generous amount of private and confidential one-to-one coaching sessions online, spread over several months, ensuring an exceptional level of support. This will ensure the changes you make are sustained over a longer period of time and any obstacles are overcome. Choose between online training available worldwide, or in-person face-to-face courses in the UK.

Course Dates and Price

For a list of upcoming course dates (for online coaching and face-to-face training), the locations of the next 3-day public courses in the UK and pricing Click here.

Free Initial Session

This initial coaching session serves as an introduction to the "Skills with People" course, allowing you to understand the course's relevance and effectiveness for your specific needs before committing to it.

Reserve Your Taster Session


People used to be scared of him - no longer

Might This Training In Giving Bad News Meet Your Needs?

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.

Crucial skills for getting the best out of others

She now feels more confident in tackling people

What You'll Take Away From This Course On Giving Bad News

What you'll take away from this course at giving bad news

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.

Learn how to be both firm and fair

Develop Confidence When Given Bad News

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.

Assertiveness, Listening Skills & Emotional Intelligence Training

Examples Of How To Give Bad News Successfully

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.

Example 1

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.

DAVE: Yes.

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.)

Example 2

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.)

How aware are you of your effect on others?

Why Else You Might Benefit From This Training On How To Give Bad News

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.
Now he listens before jumping to conclusions

Further Reading

More information on this website relevant to giving bad news?

You might also find our pages on leadership, emotional intelligence and managing change relevant and helpful.

Get Started Now

Free exploratory coaching session

The first session is free so you're not committing yourself until you're sure this training is relevant for you. You will also learn something practical you can use right away that'll help you handle a difficult situation more successfully at work.

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