It is a misnomer that great brands never face hard times or even moments when there is a need to share not-so-great information with clients or employees. But how you say something is as important (if not more so) than how you say it. Today, I want to address one of the hardest tasks that we have to perform as professionals: Delivering bad news. Doing so is never easy, and it becomes even harder after we have worked with someone a while and our relationships have grown and become stronger. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, but if you must be, the following tips might be of great use to you.
Try to Continue To Build Trust, Even When It Seems Impossible: Whatever you do, don’t disguise the issue. Instead of avoiding topics, peel them open and be as informative and descriptive as possible. Doing so will help you maintain the confidence of the person you are speaking with. They will appreciate your commitment to providing them with factual information in a timely manner.
Be Prepared. Whatever you do, do not deliver bad news in haste. First, explore all alternatives and try to come up with solutions. It’s also imperative that your clients or employees do not feel lost after you’ve delivered the news. On the contrary, they should feel empowered and reassured by the options that you have diligently researched and provided.
Do Not Overlook Their Feelings. Empathy is essential in all business, so make sure that your client knows that you understand how this news makes them feel. Compassion is a key component in this respect. The recipient will feel comforted by the fact that you share their frustration and won’t take for granted the idea that you understand that your job is to make everything better.
Do Not Procrastinate. Confront the issue, act accordingly, and follow through. While you don’t want to react too quickly, the last thing you want to do is sit on bad news. The problem will not go away (and ignoring it might make matters worse). Set Yourself Up For Success. While it’s difficult to be the bearer of bad news, this may be an opportunity for you to show your worth and project your personal brand. Utilize this exercise to let your brilliance and professionalism shine. Not only will this offer a sense of security to your clients, but it will also allow you the opportunity to polish your craft even further. Remember not to allow fear to take over. Instead, hold onto the notion that clarity trumps fear, and maintain control over your thoughts and emotions. This allows you to set –and maintain– the tone. Remain confident and take control of the situation. In the end it always works out how it was supposed to.