How to Break Bad News in 4 Easy Steps

It’s never easy being the bearer of bad news. Wouldn’t you like to stay out of the whole loop until everything blows over? Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, you have to be the one to say it. However, there are ways you can soften the blow. This article shows you how to break bad news to people you care for.

You must be wondering how that is possible. Well, think of it this way: If you don’t know how to break bad news, the situation could get worse. A lot worse. So if you want to avoid that situation, read on!

Step 1: Timing Is Everything.

This is about gauging the perfect time to deliver unfortunate news. For example, don’t tell your sister that you lost her favorite ring when you two are in the middle of a fight. Don’t tell your parents that you dropped out of college as soon as they get home from work. Instead, pick a time when the person you’re breaking the bad news to is most willing to listen and not freak out.

Step 2: Put It In Context.

People get upset when they receive terrible news. However, they somehow feel better when they realize that they could have had it worse.

One of the best ways on how to break bad news is by putting the message in context. Let’s say you have to tell some people that their house got robbed while they were away on vacation. That could certainly make anyone go into panic mode.

However, if you tell them that they were lucky to have not been there at all since the thieves were known to be ruthless, then they’ll have a more positive perspective on the situation.

Step 3: Lessen The Emotional Intensity.

As much as possible, learn how to break bad news in a way that lessens its negative emotional intensity. That means no crying fits or no hiccupping. Try not to show any sign of sorrow or pain in your face that the recipient might pick up on, as this could aggravate the situation.

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Step 4: Allow Them To React.

Knowing how to break bad news means allowing them to react. Don’t react for them or before them. Instead, base your reactions on what they do next. If the person you’re talking to cries, then comfort them. If the person is angry, try to calm them down a little.

Now that you know how to break bad news, it might still feel unpleasant when you do it, and you might sometimes even be dragged into the mess. But you can at least rest easy knowing that in some way, you help lighten the other person’s load.


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