Conveying Bad News – A Key Communication Skill

Getting the news out about an organisational rightsizing, merger or acquisition, layoff, or other major organizational change due to economic meltdown can become a real challenge. In most cases, this is a task which is neither liked by the bosses, nor by the employees. Imagine an employee showed up at the office and discovered that he/she is no longer has a job, and on top of that, no one had the courage to break that bad news to him/her.

Why is it so hard to deliver bad news to others? Perhaps you like to be the ‘nice guy’ and find it difficult to say no, or disappoint others. You may fear that you will become the target of anger and retaliation. Being the bearer of bad news can be emotionally upsetting, challenge our self-image, and disrupt relationships. Sometimes we face situations where our own beliefs and feelings, values and principles are in conflict. Caught in the middle, we might feel a bit ambivalent, or defensive, about the decisions made by the executive team, and yet we are the ones asked to deliver the message to employees.

Bad News is defined as information that has an adverse effect on how a person views the future, and impacts how people think, feel, and behave. How we deliver bad news affects how people interpret information, and how they cope. It not only impacts the relationship between managers and employees, but may negatively impact the company’s reputation. Remember, it’s a small world and you never know where, you both bump into each other in future at any other organisation and another part of the world. It would help if you parted ways peacefully. Remember, delivering bad news well can actually strengthen your relationship with colleagues. Therefore, it’s definitely worth learning how to do it successfully!

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