As a business owner, you’ve likely been the bearer of bad news at your office. Whether you have to dismiss an employee, report a drop in earnings, or cancel a project, no one walks away feeling good about it. However, it’s important not to make a bad situation worse through miscommunication. Here are a few things to remember when it comes to communicating bad news effectively.
Make notes. Make notes for yourself before you deliver the news. This will ensure that you deliver the entire message at once. Whether you’re holding a team meeting or having a one-on-one conversation, you won’t have to call another meeting to deliver some key piece of information that you forgot.
Deliver a written version. After your initial phone call, face-to-face meeting or presentation, make sure to deliver a written version of the same information . This way, employees who missed a meeting can read the official version afterwards. And nobody has to absorb all of the details at once since they can refer to your write-up later on.
Practice empathy. Before presenting bad news, take a moment to put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. You’ll have a better idea of what kind of questions or reactions you might receive and how to handle them. It will also help you think of empathetic responses that will resonate with and reassure your audience.
Resolve to move forward. After communicating bad news to your employees, customers or vendors, you should lay down next steps that get everyone looking forward towards a resolution. For employment termination, you could focus the conversation on things like knowledge transfer, interim insurance, severance pay, and any available career counseling. If you have to end a contract with a vendor, you may want to bring up what changes or improvements you want to see in future contracts, or point them towards other possible clients.
With the right communication strategy, you can limit the negative impact of bad news and keep everyone on a positive path. Contact us to learn more about these and other great business communication tips.