The five general aims of giving bad news are to provide the terrible news, encourage acceptance of the bad news, keep the readers' goodwill, maintain the organization's good image, and manage the volume of future contact on the subject. Following these five basic guidelines when giving terrible news will save you a lot of trouble in the future.
When you communicate negative information, your goal is to let the reader know that what he believes is true, isn't. This means telling him something he does not want to hear. He may react negatively to the news; or he may ignore it. No matter how he reacts, it is your job to make sure he knows that you are passing on his comments accurately. Only then will he be willing to listen to more positive news from you later on.
Your reader might get upset with you for telling him something he doesn't want to hear. This can happen if you tell someone she is being fired from her job when in fact you're just letting her go after six months instead of three. Or he might feel betrayed by you if you've been friends all your life and he finds out that you've been lying to him all this time. These are both natural reactions to getting bad news, but only if it was unnecessary. Keep in mind that there are times when you need to communicate bad news to your reader.
The Purposes of Negative News Messages To avoid confusion or back-and-forth communication, be precise and succinct. Assist the receiver in comprehending and accepting the news. Maintain trust and respect for the company or organization as well as the receiver. Avoid legal liability or making an incorrect acknowledgment of guilt or blame. Positively reinforce good behavior while addressing deficiencies/violations.
The Goal of Negative News Is to deliver the message clearly and get out of the way. As long as you provide clear direction and allow time for response, most people will understand your message and act on it. They may ask questions, but once those are answered they will usually accept the news and move on. Never hesitate to repeat yourself if necessary. Sometimes a simple reminder is all that's needed to get the point across.
Here are some tips for effective negative news delivery:
Be specific and use plain language. Don't use legalese or technical jargon. If possible, find a way to show or tell them what they need to know without asking them questions. For example, instead of saying "We aren't going to pay you this week," say "I'm not going to pay you this week because we don't have any money." This tells your employee they can expect no payment this week even though they might already have the money sitting in their account waiting to be paid out.
Tell them why you're delivering negative news.
When giving bad news, whether in person or in writing, there are four objectives to bear in mind: To avoid the need for further clarification, be precise and succinct....
Delivering a Bad News Message
There are certain advantages to conveying terrible news in writing. Can more carefully tailor the message -can more clearly document the message -can send a message that serves as a reminder (providing directions, suggestions, and options for future actions).
Writing allows for more precision in delivering bad news than speaking. When giving bad news, it is important to be clear and concise without being insulting or vague. Written language is more formal and precise than spoken language, so using written communication is recommended when possible.
Written communications are able to capture information not readily available in conversation. For example, an email address can be included with sensitive information to protect against identity theft. Writing also allows for more detail in communicating discouraging news than can be conveyed in conversation. For example, if there is a problem with an employee's performance, it can be explained in greater depth without risking judgment by the speaker.
Written communications are accessible to those who cannot hear the news read aloud. Service animals, people who are deaf, and others who are unable to listen to the news verbally may benefit from written announcements and reminders.
Written communications are reusable for other purposes. For example, a company can use written complaints to identify issues that need to be fixed before they become problems. Or, it can use written praise to recognize employees for their good work.