Team Meeting In Creative Office

Communicating bad news — we all hate to do it, wish we never have to do it again, and yet recognize that there will inevitably be times when we need to do it. Whether it is announcing a reduction in force, a negative change in employee benefits or compensation, a discontinued strategy or product line, or some other disappointment or painful news, these are times that separate the engaging leaders from the mediocre ones.

When leaders (or the overall organization) communicate well even in tough times, people realize they can trust them to make appropriate decisions, take responsibility, and do what’s best for the organization as well as the people who make up its workforce.

You can’t achieve your potential as a leader without learning and practicing effective communication — it’s a core leadership discipline — and that includes delivering bad news when necessary. Fortunately, the same principles and strategies for communicating good news also apply for bad news. And as with the rest of workforce communication, learning and practicing the principles can help you become a better leader, a more successful businessperson, and maybe even a better person overall.

In this episode, Jesse zeroes in on the top eight tips for successfully communicating bad news. Some of these are often skipped, with unfortunate results.

  • Start with empathy and ambivalence
  • Prepare
  • Be timely
  • Be clear and straightforward
  • Explain why and how the decision was made
  • Demonstrate caring
  • Listen
  • Focus on the future
Thank you to Freshbooks for sponsoring this episode of Engaging Leader. Freshbooks is offering our listeners a free month of unrestricted use of their online accounting software (no credit card needed). Claim your free month at and enter “Engaging Leader” in the section that asks how you heard about Freshbooks.

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