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5 Mistakes People Make When Delivering Bad News

Posted by on 10:43 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 5 Mistakes People Make When Delivering Bad News

If a loved one dies, you may find yourself in a position where you have to tell other people the sad news. Giving people this type of information is rarely easy, but, with the wrong approach, you may inadvertently make a bad situation even worse. If you have to tell somebody some bad news, make sure the conversation is as effective as possible, and avoid these five common mistakes. Failure to consider somebody’s personal circumstances Bad news to one person could become devastating information to somebody else. Before you pass on serious/life-changing information, it’s important to understand the impact the news may have on the recipient.  For example, if somebody needs to have serious surgery, the news could force a loved one to give up a much-anticipated vacation. Similarly, a sudden bereavement could become terrible news for somebody who expected the deceased to carry out an integral role at his or her wedding. Take time to understand the bigger picture. This information can help you plan when to break the news and how to do it. In your rush to let somebody know, you could make it far harder for them to cope with the information you have to share. Choosing the wrong setting In Dr Robert Buchman’s 1992 book, “How to Break Bad News”, the eminent oncologist references a six-step process called S-P-I-K-E-S. The first step in this process – Setting – focuses on the need to choose the right time and place to break bad news. It’s easy to choose the wrong occasion to break bad news. For example, if you sit down to break sensitive news and your mobile telephone rings, you’re unlikely to create the right impression. Before you decide to break bad news, make sure you and the other person can avoid all distractions. What’s more, while it is sometimes unavoidable, you should always aim to break bad news in person because nobody wants to take ‘that’ telephone call. TMI (too much information) People respond to bad news in different ways, and it’s important to consider how much information somebody needs or wants to know. In most cases, it’s better to let the other person steer the conversation. If you rush in with the full detail of the incident you could cause further upset. You may also confuse the recipient because he or she is simply unable to take in everything you said. Deliver the information slowly and in small chunks. Check that the other person understands what you have said before you move on. Above all, respond closely to the questions the recipient asks, so you can accurately gauge how much detail he or she wants and can cope with. Failure to ask the recipient questions You can’t tell how the other person feels if you don’t ask them. Delivering bad news is often a harrowing task, so it’s perfectly understandable that you may want to finish the task as quickly as possible, but this is rarely in the interests of the other person. During the conversation, ask plenty of questions. Ask the recipient how he or she feels. Confirm if he or she wants you to do anything else, whether this means finding out more information or contacting another person. Most importantly, make sure you listen and respond to the answers in...

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