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The art of good communication: 6 ways to deliver bad news like a boss
May 25th 2015
Faced with the prospect of unhappy clients? Brush up on your communication skills and ensure bad news doesn’t cost you your job with this top careers advice...
Have things gone a little pear-shaped at work? We’ve all been there. Sometimes thanks to circumstances outside of our control, a misjudged decision or an overlooked deadline, we can spend many a sleepless night wondering whether we’ve just compromised a valuable business relationship.
All is not lost though and even the biggest blooper needn’t spell the end of your dealings. We asked Media Career Coach Joanne Mallon for 6 easy yet effective ways to deliver bad news in the most professional, assertive and proactive way possible to boost your problem solving skills and ensure it just poses a momentary blip in an otherwise smooth-running partnership.
1. Put your best foot forward first
"Always lead with something positive, no matter how small. Try using the formula ‘Fortunately X...but unfortunately Y.’"
2. Offer solutions
"Before you call the client, think of at least two possible solutions to the problem you are going to tell them about. Brainstorm with colleagues before you call to get some fresh ideas."
3. Sh*t happens...
"The Shit Sandwich technique is also useful, where you sandwich bad news between two pieces of good news."
4. Be clear and concise
"Be factual and don’t ramble on or over-explain. Tell the client and then wait for them to ask questions. What might be bad news to you may not be received as badly as you think."
5. Don’t play the blame game
"Keep your language impersonal – ‘X happened’ rather than ‘You did X’ so it doesn’t look like you are blaming the client (even if by implication you may be if the bad news is as a result of something the client has done...)"
6. Keep perspective
"Remember that the bad news may not necessarily put the client off working with you – they may be impressed at how you handle a tough situation."
For more careers advice from Joanne Mallon check out her book, Social Media for Writers, £9.99.