All jobs require us at some point to deliver bad news—whether it be a minor revelation such as a recruiter telling a prospective employee that there’s no wiggle-room in salary, or something major, like when a manager must fire an employee. We dread such discussions even when the revelations aren’t at all our fault. It turns out that our aversion is for good reason.
Many of us have to deliver bad news at work from time to time. Research shows that people hearing bad news do indeed “shoot the messenger,” which means you should be careful about your delivery.
When you have to tell someone information they’ll find unpleasant, try to convey that you’re doing it to help them. For example, preface it with a statement like, “I know that what I’m about to tell you isn’t what you hoped to hear, but I wanted to let you know so that we can work together to find a solution.”
If the other person senses your good intentions, they will be less likely to take their negative feelings out on you. And when you need to deliver negative feedback, try starting with some positive feedback, which can make the person more receptive.
You might also say something like, “I’m telling you this because I see your potential and I want to help you grow.”