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#FridayFact: Nobody Likes Receiving or Giving Bad News

#FridayFact: Nobody Likes Receiving or Giving Bad News published on 10 Comments on #FridayFact: Nobody Likes Receiving or Giving Bad News

This week, the daily posts focus on correspondence in general. You will find posts that apply to letters, memos, and email messages—all of which you write in the workplace. Since none of the course projects focuses on correspondence, these posts will cover this important topic.

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Most people don’t want to receive bad news. Likewise, unless we’re talking about the Wicked Witch of the West, Voldemort, or Darth Vader, most people are uncomfortable when they have to give someone bad news. Continuing our focus on correspondence this week, today’s #FridayFact explains how to write a bad new message that gets the point across without alienating the reader.

Typically, bad news messages begin with some kind of “buffer” that cushions the negative information. This indirect approach allows you to break the news gently to your reader. There are times, however, when a more direct approach is appropriate, such as in an emergency situation or when the bad news is expected.

How to Organize a Paper: The Indirect Method (for Writing Bad News) includes a chart that outlines when to use an indirect approach to giving your readers bad news and when to use a more direct approach. The chart on the webpage tells you what to include in your message, whether it is direct or indirect. You’ll also find explanations of the information to provide in the different sections of your bad news message.


 

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Mark Marut
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Mark Marut

Personally, when I get bad news, I would rather the person telling me the bad news get straight to the point. Usually if it is something regarding being fired, or getting in trouble for something you are usually expecting it, and should be ready to embrace the news. I think that when people try to sugar coat bad news it makes me feel worse, because it is like others are pitying me. If there is any sort of comfort, I think it is best left at the end, which is what the article suggests. If it is bad news that is out of my hands, then I would agree that adding a buffer will help the recipient of the news deal with the news. It is always hard to deliver bad news, but knowing how to effectively do it is important. I think it is also important to know the audience you are delivering the news too. It is the same as writing, knowing your audience is an important part of this. This is specifically useful if you wish to be a good boss, because you will need to know how to effectively deliver bad news.

Aaron Olinger
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Aaron Olinger

This article was an interesting read because I did not fully agree with some of the aspects. I personally think that if you are communicating with someone to tell them something disagreeable, it is better to tell them about it first and then ask them about everyday things instead of the other way around. I think this makes it more genuine.
A mentor I once had said with respect to business/personal relationships “Good news is nothing, bad news is good, and no news is bad”. What he meant with this was good news or compliments really mean nothing and do not improve anything except your self importance. Bad news is good because if people come to you with an issue, it shows they still care enough about you or the relationship to put in the effort to fix it. No news is bad because that shows they think it is not worth the effort to fix.

Yoonjin Kim
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Yoonjin Kim

I agree with Mark. Unlike the article described the indirect strategy for communicating bad news, I think it will be better to straight to the point. I agree that some bad news should be treated differently at some point, such as buffer refereed in article, but i think changing the order seems necessity. I like that how they describe the apology is optional and it only should be done when there is an error. I have a tendency to apologies even when it is clearly not my own fault to ease the situation, but as it described, it will give connotative impression of warrant in the situation. I agree that the buffer might be a tool to ease the situation and not totally destroy the customer/business relationship. No body likes to hear bad news but at the same time, the way to present it may result better outcomes

Danielle Lehman
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Danielle Lehman

I agree with Mark and Yoonjin about rather having a person be direct and to the point by telling me the bad news instead of trying to sugarcoat it. I like the steps that the article describes as being a part of the indirect method. However, the only step I don’t really agree with is using a buffer. This is because I feel like this is being very fake as a person by trying to just say something just to be nice before you give someone bad news. Like I previously mentioned I would prefer the person the be straightforward and just tell me the bad news. However, I do like that for the indirect method it tries to end on a polite/ nice note. I feel like overall when delivering bad news a person should just be direct, because if you try to sugarcoat the bad news, it would feel like the person is pitying you (like Mark previously mentioned).

Matthew Erwin
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Matthew Erwin

I agree with Danielle in that I disagree with sugar coating or “buffering” bad information with nice comments. To me, it gives the feeling that the sender is only saying those things because it is custom, not because they actually care to ease you into the bad news. Although I do agree with the article suggesting to end the message with a pleasant close. If you were to receive a message notifying you of being fired, you may be full of emotions where you cannot think clearly. Putting advice, thank-yous or good wishes at the end could help boost moral and help the receiver come up with their next steps.

Zachary Cohen
Guest
Zachary Cohen

I really liked this article because I feel like know how to and being comfortable with delivering bad news is an important skill. I’ve had bad news delivered poorly to me before from an employer and it definitely left me with an extremely poor opinion of that company. and while I definitely agree with the methods of delivering bad news expressed in this article, I feel like the most important part of delivering bad news is clarity. The last thing anyone receiving bad news wants is to have to have that news delivered twice; and no one wants to give bad news twice. So I think that the most important part of delivering bad news is to make sure that the message being given is clear and complete so that all parties involved are on the same page and there is no misunderstandings.

Mariel Jastrebsky
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Mariel Jastrebsky

I think this article did a good job of explaining how different situations require bad news to be delivered differently. I know that any time I’ve been rejected from an internship or a job, they generally just have a statement about how they appreciate that I applied to the job, and that it was competitive. They then say I did not receive the position, and that they wish me good luck with the rest of applications. Whenever I’ve left an internship because of the start of the new school year, the boss will send an email to the company saying that they appreciated everything I’ve done for the company, they are sad to see me go (breaking the bad news) and that they want to stay in touch and wish me the best in my future endeavors. So, with that experience I feel like a lot of companies and people follow the bad news format.

Tyler Schaal
Guest
Tyler Schaal

Personally, if I am receiving or giving bad news I like to be straight to the point. The buffer that this post discusses is just not effective for bad news. If someone knows they are receiving bad news it is best you give it to them straight and do not beat around the bush. Each situation is different, but I believe telling them the truth is important and stating what needs to be said clearly and concisely is just as important. Showing compassion and empathy is important as well because as a boss, you should care about your people and how news may affect them. But by not being direct this could cause more pain than necessary.

Moqi Zhang
Guest
Moqi Zhang

I totally agree with this article. I am really uncomfortable when I need to tell somebody a bad new, and sometimes I choose to tell a lie to make me and listener comfortable. However, it is not a good method. Sometimes, I need lies one after another, and I will expose the first lie at the end. It is really important for me to learn how to write bad news.

Casey
Guest
Casey

Bad news should also not follow the Indirect Method when communicating with Autistic people and others who communicate directly and have to work especially hard to understand what’s actually being said underneath all the indirection. Additionally, people who have been psychologically abused may be hypersensitive to any sort of insincerity and interpret it as manipulation, so be careful when you use a method like this that everything you say as as sincere as possible. Finally, I think you should be careful to take into account power relationships. I always recognize when people try to use strategies like this on me. When it’s coming from someone who has some sort of power over me, especially when they completely misunderstand the reasons I would be angry, it absolutely incenses me. I end up being much, much more likely to make formal complaints, pursue legal action, and so on.

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