Seven Goals for Delivering Bad News

The negative or bad news message delivers news that the audience does not want to hear, read, or receive. Delivering negative news is never easy. Whether you are informing someone they are being laid off or providing constructive criticism on their job performance, how you choose to deliver the message can influence its response. Some people prefer their bad news to be direct and concise. Others may prefer a less direct approach. Regardless whether you determine a direct or indirect approach is warranted, your job is to deliver news that you anticipate will be unwelcome, unwanted, and possibly dismissed.

There are seven goals to keep in mind when delivering negative news, in person or in written form:

  1. Be clear and concise in order not to require additional clarification.
  2. Help the receiver understand and accept the news.
  3. Maintain trust and respect for the business or organization and for the receiver.
  4. Avoid legal liability or erroneous admission of guilt or culpability.
  5. Maintain the relationship, even if a formal association is being terminated.
  6. Reduce the anxiety associated with the negative news to increase comprehension.
  7. Achieve the designated business outcome.

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This chapter was derived from Writingcommons.org. CC BY-SA 4.0.

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Technical Writing for Technicians by Will Fleming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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