Deconstructing Delivering Bad News
I am fascinated by the social science research around shoot the messenger. It really is a thing. We do not like people who bring us bad news — even if they had no hand in it.
Seems pretty unfair to me.
Bad news is critical to making good decisions, growing ethical companies, and building honest relationships.
And many of you have been in executive roles as I have, where you must deliver bad news regularly. Not the fun part of the job, but a required part of the job. We need to learn to share difficult messages without damaging political capital.
So let’s get good at it.
The benefits far outweigh the cost. To grow healthy companies, ensure financial numbers are reported accurately, and products work as promised — we need leaders who are willing to raise their hand and say "Hey, this doesn’t seem right."
I recently delivered a new keynote, “The Art and Skill of Delivering Bad News and Reducing Risk,” to the Institute of Internal Auditors. I shared high stakes stories from Wall Street to an army base in Afghanistan.
No one is immune to the fear and uncertainty of sharing difficult information. The negative emotions associated with bad news are so ingrained that all of my storytelling colleagues asked to remain anonymous — even though many are retired and the events they described took place decades ago.
To help, I have created a 6-step tool you can use the next time you need to share bad news. Download it, share it with your team and stick it on your wall as a reference.
And if you know of an organization or association that would benefit from learning the skill of doing this, reach out — let’s talk about the full keynote. It’s powerful and practical.
And speaking of powerful and practical, as most of you know, I recently hosted an exclusive webinar for our subscriber community. I shared key areas that hold people back in their career along with workable solutions to overcome these obstacles. Colleagues joined from Honolulu to Copenhagen to Ottawa to Austin, and I coached live on some major career issues. We will be planning another webinar soon. Stay tuned for more details.
To your success,
PS London-based strategist David Lancefield and I recently discussed, “What does it take to promote yourself in the best possible way?” Check out our podcast here.