Know how to de­liver bad news to peo­ple

HT City - - Lifestyle -

No­body wants to re­ceive bad news, but when they must, they pre­fer re­ceiv­ing it straight, with­out much buf­fer, sug­gests a re­search.

So when it comes to de­liv­er­ing bad news, one should speak direct and not beat around the bush.

“If we’re negat­ing phys­i­cal facts, there’s no buf­fer re­quired or de­sired,” said Alan Man­ning, Pro­fes­sor at Brigham Young Univer­sity in the US. For ex­am­ple, “if your house is on fire, you just want to know that and get out. Or if you have cancer, you’d just like to know that. You don't want the doc­tor to talk around it,” Man­ning ex­plained at the IEEE In­ter­na­tional Pro­fes­sional Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Con­fer­ence in Madi­son, Wis­con­sin.

For the study, 145 study par­tic­i­pants re­ceived a range of bad-news sce­nar­ios, and with each sce­nario they were given two po­ten­tial de­liv­er­ies.

For each re­ceived mes­sage, they ranked how clear, con­sid­er­ate, direct, ef­fi­cient, hon­est, spe­cific and rea­son­able they per­ceived it to be. They also ranked which of those char­ac­ter­is­tics they val­ued most.

The re­searchers found that if some­one is de­liv­er­ing bad news about a so­cial re­la­tion­ship, for ex­am­ple, “I’m break­ing up with you” or “I’m sorry, you’re fired,” one might pre­fer they ease into it with the tini­est of buf­fers.

“How­ever, an im­me­di­ate, ‘I’m break­ing up with you’ might be too direct. All you need is a ‘we need to talk’ buf­fer — just a cou­ple of sec­onds for the other per­son to process that bad news is com­ing,” said Man­ning.

Par­tic­i­pants, for the most part, val­ued clar­ity and di­rect­ness over other char­ac­ter­is­tics, the re­searchers noted.

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Di­rect­ness is the most pre­ferred way to de­liver bad news

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