What’s best practice when it comes to sharing bad or difficult news? What are the strategies to employ? Is honesty always the best policy? What do you do if you’re caught unawares by circumstance?
Here are some key take-outs:
- People try to avoid making bad news public in case it does damage, but bad news will almost always find its way out into the public and then it’s likely to do even more damage.
- Putting out bad news is “in the greater good” long term. Don’t dally. Put some thought into it, get the news out and get it out in writing.
“Be open, honest and transparent with everything because everything will eventually come out.” — Nic
- Focus on how you’re delivering the message and make sure you’re getting it right for each audience — for example, employees versus shareholders versus customers. Don’t forget a group.
- Try to minimise the impact your bad news will have if you can. Don’t add more fuel to the fire.
“The truth comes out and I’d rather control it.” — James
- Here are Forbes’ 10 Commandments for delivering bad news: Never surprise, delay, or hide the facts. Always explain in writing; justify; look for the silver lining; bring solutions to the table. Always remember you have multiple audiences. Follow up and follow through. Treat people with dignity.
- The public’s memory is very short. You might take a short-term hit but you will recover.
“Brands try to soften the blow. I’m a ‘rip the Band-Aid off’ kind of girl. You need to get that information out right away.” — Sarah
Here are the links you might need
- Here’s that Black Dog Ride resignation email Sarah was talking about.
- And here’s that Forbes 10 Commandments article.
On My Desk
- Sarah recommended these two books: The International Thesaurus of Quotations and Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.
- Nic recommended this website for forward planning.
- And James recommended this New York Times advertisement about truth.
Have you heard the one about…
Recently James, Sarah and Nic spoke to Snapchat superstar, Chocolate Johnny.
And here’s a discussion with Trevor Young about publishing on third-party platforms.
Like what you’ve heard?
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