How to give bad news? 12 emotional keys

the bad news they almost always cause discomfort, both in the person who receives it and in the person who gives it. Letting a person know for us certain facts that will deceive them can generate a feeling of discomfort so strong that it will lead to misunderstandings or additional problems.

Outraged, if we think that we are not ready to give this news, we can postpone this task indefinitely so as not to face the unwanted consequences of not knowing what to say, and this may be something that will negatively affect both the person to be informed and other parties involved (for example, if we are working in a hospital) .

Therefore, in order to know how to handle these situations, it is advisable to have clear basic behavioral guidelines. You can read below some tips to help you know how to break bad news.

Tips on how to break bad news

1. Stop thinking if we’re the right person to give

This point is fundamental, because don’t take it for granted that we have to be the ones to report the bad news. Think about who you might be the person to report, if your professional role includes such actions (in case you are working in a profession by contacting this person), and if there are no better alternatives.

2. Think about our own emotional state

When spreading bad news, it’s good to keep as many variables in mind as possible. For that, it is good to stop and reflect, albeit briefly, on the feelings this news generates in us. In this way, we will gain some control over the situation, as we will get to know better the attitudes and thoughts around this news from one of the two agents who are going to be involved in the dialogue: us.

If we feel that we are too emotionally involved in the information we give, we can consider going back to point 1 and think of other people to share the bad news.

3. Anticipate the other person’s reaction

Technically, this advice is not to give bad news properly, however. it should be part of your brief advance planning to expect certain behaviors and prepare possible solutions.

4. Pick the right time

When you give the bad news, it is important that the other person can give us their full attention and not carry an intense emotional burden. derived from the activities he has carried out recently. Therefore, if possible, choose the time when the other person is not very stressed or particularly excited by any circumstance, as this could cause the news to have a greater emotional impact and need to be remember that moment – it’s like an even more unpleasant experience.

If it isn’t possible to pick a short-term time to let the other person know, make it clear from the start that you have something important to say: don’t start talking about anything else.

5. Look for a calm and emotionally neutral context.

In accordance with the previous point, the context in which you are going to deliver the bad news should not be distracted and be calm. In this way, communication will be more fluid and there will be no environmental stressors. Pick a spot among those you have on hand, because you need to direct the person to them without giving them the news yet, just so that they can follow you and anticipate the importance of what is going to happen.

6. Maintain a certain closeness to the person

Even if you do not maintain a friendship with the interlocutor, it is good to be there to communicate the news. This way, the person will feel more comfortable and you will be in a better position to help them if they need it. Also make sure that no furniture separates them and that your eyes are more or less at the same height, so that no asymmetry of power between you is noticed.

You might be interested in: “A Guide to How to Provide Emotional First Aid”

7. Sit down, both of you

this advice it is all the more important that the news you want to give is bad. Sitting helps relax a large part of the body, which in turn allows you to be more attentive and, on the other hand, can help relieve some of the tension before and during the news broadcast. Also, if we adopt a relatively relaxed posture (without crossing our arms or legs and without bending too much) it is very possible that the other person will be shopping to imitate even without realizing it, so they will feel too a little more relaxed.

On the other hand, when the other person is seated notor he will fall to the ground if he faints or notices that he is momentarily losing strength due to his mood.

8. Touch, don’t touch …?

Unless we’re someone very close to the other person, it is best not to touch her with your hand or arm just before giving the news, As this could make you stress very quickly and not be able to concentrate well on what we are saying. We can do this, if we feel it appropriate, after having communicated it, to comfort ourselves.

9. Start by explaining the most important, but not abruptly

It is essential that you start by talking about the information you need to give, very clearBecause it will brighten up the atmosphere and be incompatible with anything you have done before (actions that aim to express the importance of this moment). however, it is best if a few seconds elapse between when you start talking and when the worst part of the news is named, To gradually introduce the subject. This is why it is not good to summarize the news in one newspaper headline.

Once you’ve said the important thing, you can count the details later if you think it’s appropriate and the other person is willing to continue listening.

10. Use neutral language and give information objectively

What we are going to say is very important, so it is better not to “prefabricate” a point of view or a state of opinion that we are going to impose on the other person. Giving bad news is something that makes sense because the other person needs to know the relevant information and take it in their own way.

Additionally, giving the data alongside our opinion or point of view can be a way of hiding things or giving biased information even if we don’t realize it, usually delivering overly optimistic news.

11. Rephrase what happened, if possible.

Once the important thing has been said, we can offer a perspective that complements the above information, Opening up a more promising range of possibilities. However, it is very important to only do this if you are realistic in raising these expectations and truly believe in what we are saying.

Sincerity and transparency are essential.

12. Do not get emotionally involved except to comfort the other person.

In the moments when we give the news, we must ensure the well-being of our interlocutor. That’s why we need to get away enough so that we don’t have to exteriorize our own feelings and the other person can deal with theirs.

This can be done, for example, not reacting negatively if the other person blames us for what happened or if they get angry with us for no reason.

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