Mark Pearl

Avoiding giving bad news

When we avoid giving bad news, James Sheppard, a psychology professor from the University of Florida calls this ‘information avoidance’.
We are exceptionally good at this whole avoidance thing.

  • We don’t like delivering bad news. We are worried it will upset the other party and/or us in doing so. It makes sense that we want to keep things ‘peaceful and happy’.
  • We don’t know how to say it for it be received as well as possible. This is again a valid reason.
  • We stick to what we know. If we believe it won’t matter whether we give the news or not, then we will believe ourselves.
  • We value ourselves over others. That is, how we feel matters more than getting back to someone else. Ouch!

5 top tips to make it as easy as possible;

  1. Preparation is important and doesn’t need to take that much time.
  2. Ground it in facts and evidence. Give them the detail about why it is a no. You only need 1-2 points to make it valuable feedback.
  3. Have the courage to be honest but do it without the assassination. If the proposal wasn’t good enough, or you don’t think they are the best cultural fit – tell them why. Let them know so they really understand.
  4. Avoid the ‘cop out’ response. That is, the one you give everyone. It’s not you, it’s me kinda thing. We read through those and we don’t like them.
  5. Offer some advice for the future. I hardly ever hear someone saying ‘no thanks’ I don’t want your advice about how I can set myself up or the business for the future.

And above all. Don’t delay! Do it now! I know that makes it 6 tips, but I’m writing this so I can make up the rules.


[Why saying no thanks is so hard](]

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