You can win with bad news. (Preparation and delivery are key.)

Musing for:

You can win with bad news.

Of course you don’t like delivering bad news. But whether it’s sharing bad personal or team results with your company, or sharing bad company results with your team, when you’re a leader, it’s an unpleasant task that often falls on your shoulders.

Here are some ways to get some positive out of negative news:

💡 Be prepared: Be sure you understand the event or decision, the reasons behind it, the consequences of it, and any options the listeners may have. Choose a private face-to-face meeting if possible for personal news. Anticipate possible reactions and plan your responses. Rehearse your entire delivery.

💡 Be direct: Craft a message that gets straight to the point, with the bottom line up front. Don’t make them listen to a lot of background while they’re still wondering how it affects them.

💡 Be transparent: Without violating the confidentiality of other people, share as much information as you can to help them understand the situation. Give special attention to your own role in contributing to the situation.

💡 Be human: Make sure your body language and tone of voice are natural. Show empathy, not judgment, fear, ambivalence.

💡 Be forward-looking: Emphasize options people have for solving the problem or receiving support for a transition if your bad news is a terminal event such as a layoff or company closing.

💡 Be available: Invite questions and answer them honestly. Offer specific ways for people to contact you privately to discuss things further.

Responding well to negative results is one thing that distinguishes great leaders from mediocre ones. And if you can learn to do it well, delivering bad news can be a good step for your career.

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