Don’t Shoot the Messenger! The famous cry that rings through the halls when you have to deliver bad news.
The reality is that bad news is received largely by how it is delivered. You can actually RAISE people’s trust and perception of you by HOW you deliver bad news. Here are some of the common things that makes people react negatively to bad news:
1. You wait until the last minute to deliver it because you are waiting for that “hail Mary pass” that may change the situation. What people hate more than anything is to have their back against the wall. Get yourself ready to deliver the bad news as soon as you have all the FACTS in place.
2. Telling it while using apologetic body langauge. As soon as people see you wring your hands, bow your head, stumble over your words or deflect the blame to others, people view you as being “unable” to deal with or impact the bad news. In truth most of these body language signs happen because you feel bad about or are fearful of having to deliver the bad news but unfortunately they undermine your credibility.
3. Sharing news BEFORE you have any Facts or without any sense of what happened, or the whyit happened and what you will do about it. It is extremely frustrating when people drop bad news without actually having tried to CHANGE the situation or gather all the facts in place. Don’t just accept “we can’t deliver it”; instead find out WHY they can’t deliver it so you know what is the actual problem. Sometimes you can problem solve on the spot because what the other person sees as an obstacle you see as a change to make things happen.
4. Never assume the messenger will be shot. Instead assume that your role is to add value in all aspects so get the information out as fast as possible. If you feel unprepared to handle it or feel you could have handled it better, go in and find out how you can improve on it for next time. Believe me, if you think you didn’t handle it well, others are already thinking the same and they will have much higher respect for you if they see you hold yourself to a higher standard than you demonstrated.