How to deliver bad news assertively

How to deliver bad news assertively

Category: Dealing with difficult situations

How to deliver bad news assertively

Most of us find giving bad news difficult; it doesn’t necessarily come easily or feel comfortable.

I don’t know about you but as I grew up, I was told not to upset others or cause conflict and when I deliver bad news, I know I’m going to upset the other person and if things go badly conflict could occur.

So, I don’t like delivering bad news. But I do … and there are ways to make it less difficult than you expect it to be.

Over the years, I have run an assertiveness workshop during which we asked delegates to come up with a list of how they like to receive bad news. Most of us know that our manager, colleague or even child doesn’t want to give us bad news but there are ways we would rather be told!


I’ve created a free hand out with the top ten tips we came up with but here is a quick overview…

… make sure that:

      • you don’t delay,
      • you don’t waffle,
      • you are honest and
      • you listen!

If you know that you have something difficult to say you will only make matters worse if you let the news filter out before you have announced it. The last thing you need is someone coming up to you spitting tacks because they have heard the news via the rumour mill. And don’t hide behind technology … do it face to face!

Don’t pretend there is some good news too … be honest. Beating around the bush doesn’t make the pill easier to swallow.

Remember that once you have told them the news, they probably won’t take anything else in so give them time to take on board what you have said. Arrange another meeting where they can ask questions and react to the news. At that meeting really listen to what they have to say, don’t be defensive and allow them to be angry or upset!

If you would like to receive a copy of the top 10 tips then email me and I’ll send you a copy.