How to deliver bad news strategically
Have you ever had to communicate something unpleasant? If you didn’t lose your job over it, wind up in the hospital or cry quietly afterwards, it’s likely because you delivered your bad news strategically, with clear, concise actions that delivered the blow, but also a nice recovery:
Do your research – Before giving bad news, ensure you have done due diligence to find out exactly what happened and what the FULL effects will be (no more surprises!).
Communicate the news immediately – Dispense with any verbal foreplay to sugar-coat your news. It’s annoying and transparent.
Identify the cause – Clearly outline the cause but avoid the blame game (it always turns the situation from bad to worse). Communicate what will be done to ensure it won’t happen again.
Deliver a solution – There’s nothing worse than giving bad news without the next steps ready: “We can’t deliver your order on time” equals one angry customer. Try, “we can’t deliver your order on time… unless we break it into two shipments on Monday and Tuesday.” If possible, brainstorm multiple solutions and collaborate with your customer on their preferences.
Make it right – If you had a hand in contributing to the bad news, look to compensate your customer. It doesn’t have to be expensive – a handwritten note, a lunch out or a reduced/free product can help to smooth ruffled feathers.
Some good news: if you consider these tips the next time you deliver bad news, you’ll be able to restore and even increase customer confidence and trust in your company.