Another Case for Direct Bad-News Messages

Good-news-bad-nesThe 9th edition of the book challenges the traditional advice of presenting bad-news using the indirect organizational style. In an HRB blog post, "How to Start a Conversation You're Dreading," Peter Bregman offers examples of when beating around the bush doesn't work.

A performance issue with someone got out of hand because he delayed speaking with her about it. Then, the news took so long during a conversation that she had to break it herself. In another example, a CEO's long introduction to bad news was called a "complete waste of time."

We avoid giving bad news because we aren't good at it and because we're worried about the other person's reactions. But the other's reactions are likely worse when we aren't direct.

Jamie Dimon's letter about his cancer has the news right up front: "I wanted to let you know that I have just been diagnosed with throat cancer."

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Discussion Starters:

  • How do you feel about giving bad news? If you tend to delay it, why?
  • Think about a time when you received bad news or negative feedback.