man receiving bad news

Just as success and good news are a part of business, failure and bad news have their moments too. Whether it’s giving a warning or losing an important client, on occasion every provider needs to know how to gracefully deliver bad news. This can be uncomfortable and somewhat tricky to navigate, but by using these tips you should be able to take control of the exchange:

Don’t surprise

While good news makes for a great surprise, bad news only hurts more when it’s sprung on someone. When bad news comes as a surprise people tend to lash out with either anger or sadness, which worsens the situation. If you know that things are rocky with a client, you should convey that to your supervisors or the caregiver early on. If a caregiver is underperforming, let a supervisor work with him or her and before giving a formal reprimand. Preparing them for the moment can help ease the weight of it.

Be timely

You may not enjoy delivering bad news, but waiting to deliver it can compound the problem. Once a decision is final, don’t wait long before delivering it with the necessary party. Especially in cases in which the person is expecting the news, get to them promptly.

Be direct

People can generally sense when they’re about to receive bad news, and beating around the bush only prolongs the anxiety. It is kinder to be straightforward about a problem than it is to sugarcoat it, which often comes off as condescending. Rather than starting with idle chit chat, simply lead right into the point at hand as clearly, kindly and considerately as possible.

Put it in writing

Especially if you’re issuing a reprimand or a warning, it’s important to make the conditions formal. By doing this, you and the employee have a record of your decision and your expectations for the future.

Justify your decision

Studies show people react more favorably to bad news when they feel there is a procedure or logic behind it. People want justification for why bad things happen, and even if they do not agree with your reasoning, they’ll feel better afterward if they’re not left wondering where they went wrong.

Offer solutions

Try to end these interactions on a positive note by offering solutions to the problem whenever possible. If a caregiver lost a client, explain who her or his new client will be, and offer suggestions for the future. When giving a warning, provide ways that the employee can improve, and discuss the potential you see for her or him in the future, even if that future isn’t with your company.

Treat people with respect

Regardless of the feelings behind your decision, do your best to be kind and respectful. Though the recipient of the news may be angry, try to be understanding and not to get defensive or to reciprocate the anger.

Delivering bad news is a part of the job, but there’s no need to turn it into something sensational. By acting promptly and speaking respectfully, you should be able to navigate whatever news you have to deliver, good or bad.

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