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  • Do you frequently get into arguments?
    Do you frequently get into arguments?
  • Are your conversations achieving what you want?
    Are your conversations achieving what you want?
  • Can you allow discussion and still keep control?
    Can you allow discussion and still keep control?
  • How are you coming across to your boss?
    How are you coming across to your boss?
  • Are you getting the best out of your people?
    Are you getting the best out of your people?
  • Does your feedback help people change?
    Does your feedback help people change?

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.

Free exploratory coaching session

INTERESTED?

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.

FAQs

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.

Examples

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.

DAVE: Oh.

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.)

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. 

Is there more information on this website
relevant to giving bad news?

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

We love helping you communicate successfully

By giving you communication skills that'll transform even your most challenging relationships and interactions.

That's the purpose of Skills with People, our training course for managers and professional people at all levels. Thousands have benefited from this course.

Video Introduction

What People Have Said About The Course

National Training Index* report on the course

"From delegates reports we have identified Skills with People is a 'highspot' among UK business courses. Delegates mentioned as most helpful the enha ...

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a Merck Sharp & Dohme medical director

She feels more confident in tackling people and has been impressed with her new found techniques, e.g., in dealing with members of the marketing depar ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Prudential director

He is a lot more confident. At the last meeting of our business unit leaders he fully led the meeting and dealt with people very well.

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Thank you from a participant

I wanted to let you know that I have secured a new role.  I had to go through an assessment centre and one challenge was to negotiate with a 'belliger ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Billiton director

He's obviously making a positive effort and it does show. People used to be scared of him. No longer.

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Johnson Matthey Catalysts (Germany) senior manager

There has been a noticeable improvement in the performance of this customer service engineer. He is much more succinct now than he was before. He was ...

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EHS advisor (environmental health and safety), Johnson Matthey

This is the best non-techincal course the company has ever put me on because it's the most useful. 

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Fundraising Officer, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)

A very intimate training which will make anyone reflect on how best to engage with colleagues when confronted with difficult situations.

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Johnson & Johnson finance director

He has made excellent progress in the management of his team. He has ensured key stakeholders are involved in decision-making and has gone to great le ...

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Golf Club Manager

Ten out of ten for the course for me personally. I think I would have resigned if it hadn't been for the course.

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Workshop Manager, Professional Plant Services

I now find it easier to have awkward conversations. (As a result of how he has changed several more people from his company are asking to attend the c ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - Chairman of White Clarke Group

He has greatly improved his ability to manage a situation. He listens more and uses that information to convince. A good example is the .... group, wh ...

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The wife of a participant

"Just thinking about last night’s conversation and it’s bringing tears to my eyes – it’s what I’ve always wanted: to be able to talk with you like tha ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - head of projects in Heinz

He now gains support through his willingness to involve people more and take them with him.

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a WS Atkins director

Now he actively listens, probes, asks for clarifications and does not assume anymore he knows the answer.

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Learning & Development Coordinator - The Entertainer

I can't recommend this course enough. It has genuinely been the most impactful course I have ever completed. Understanding that I can be assertive w ...

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Sports Centre Manager

I feel that my relationship with other attendees has improved massively following the session. I'd say 9/10 for what I've got from the course as I sa ...

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Senior Engineer, Qualcomm

An unbelievable experience, highly motivating training and one of the few which stays forever in your mind. A tangible impact to your life and workin ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Johnson & Johnson marketing director

She has become increasingly aware and focussed on ensuring she is gaining cooperation from colleagues by the way she approaches situations. E.g., Meet ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Kimberley-Clark marketing director

He is now aware of his need to control his direct approach. He was sometimes too assertive. I think he is now well balanced in this respect.

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a Shell International senior manager

He is showing far more self-awareness and more restraint in potentially confrontational situations. He is far more aware of the impact his actions and ...

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Project Quality Engineer (self funding)

A lesson for life! The power of effective communication is incredible when one masters the skills "listen with empathy" / "speak assertively". Defin ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - A Philips Semiconductors director

To what extend do I think his training need has been satisfied? Completely. I have been approached by 4 peers to tell me that they could see a very po ...

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Leisure Centre Manager

The most useful part of the course was learning how to convey my disappointment with a member of staff without demotivating them, without making them ...

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Theatre Manager

Managing to confront them but still maintain their cooperation and support. Previously I was either not confronting or confronting and ending up with ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - an HSBC investment director

I have had three unprompted comments from different team members and colleagues who have been surprised at the consideration he has shown in helping s ...

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a Glaxo SmithKline research director

He has made good progress in two areas: 1. team leadership - he listens with empathy to others well and considers their standpoint as well as his own. ...

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Senior Resource Consultant, Shell International

“Skills with People” has helped me deal with conflict situations.  It has helped me to diffuse tension in meetings and convert pushback into alignment ...

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Examples of Training Needs Met

Very diligent but hated dealing with difficult people Read More...
Allowed his meetings to get out of hand Read More...
Difficulty communicating with non-technical people Read More...
Not delegating or developing others Read More...
Being more assertive would help career go better Read More...
Enormous enthusiasm but little sensitivity Read More...
Technically very sound but lacking persuasive skills Read More...
Lots of energy and ideas but little attention for his clients Read More...
Forceful communicator who created friction Read More...
Very logical but not creating enough rapport Read More...
Had a positive attitude but gave a negative impression Read More...
Preparing for a more challenging role Read More...
Respected specialist who was too quiet at meetings Read More...
Well intentioned but demoralising his team Read More...
Flying high but creating a tense atmosphere Read More...

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