3 Ways to Communicate Bad News

Every company has to go through some rough patches. When they do, they sometimes have to convey bad news for various reasons. People often make mistakes telling the not-so-good news in a way that they end up offending the receiver or making them overly worried.

Towards the end of every financial year, companies go through their profits and losses; some years bring bad news with them. That is the time when they have to talk to their investors and employees, and while sharing the news, they must be careful with their words and actions. Leaders must always be prepared for times and hone their communication skills in this aspect.

There are ways in which you can communicate bad news without making the other person worried or stressed:

1. Sandwich Method

This method is the most appropriate in terms of being fair when sharing bad news in the business world. You have to start by sharing positive news blending it with the bad news you intend to share, and later ending the conversation with another piece of good news. While you are doing this, remember to stay calm and spread positivity throughout the conversation through actions.

Identify Good News

The first step here is that you have to convey positive news that enlightens the mood of the listener; once you have established the point, the listeners will remember the good you told them earlier and use that positive energy to grasp the bad coming later.

Present the Bad News

After you have told them about the good that happened this year, it’s time to break the bad news to them. While you are doing so, make sure that you add an emotional touch by choosing the right words and making it sound dramatic. When you say what you have to say in this manner, you will gain the respect of your audience because you are making an honest effort to tell them the sad truth but not stressing them over it.

Outline the Positive

Now that the hard part is over, where you have told them about the not-so-good news, it is time for them to feel better by hearing another positive news. This could be your way of giving them hope to fix things or even maybe a game plan to tackle the issue. You reassure them by taking the positive out of the bad in the form of learnings and lessons the failure gave you.

Avoid Excuses

Finally, address the elephant in the room again by not giving any excuses but highlighting the learnings and the changes you would be incorporating further to rectify the situation. When you do this, you will earn praise from your audience instead of the blames they might throw your way.

2. Compare and Minimize

This particular method is used when leaders are aware that a bad situation occurred due to their failure and explain to the audience what went wrong at their end.

Identify Common Reference Points

In this method, you start by finding out the reasons or issues for the downfall that are common with others like you. For example, the financial drop happened due to a market crash that affected many companies with similar working. You start with sharing the statistics and examples of your rivals; additionally, keep some examples ready to be used when your team starts asking tough questions.

List All the Good Things

Once you have discussed the troublesome news with everyone, talk about all the positive news you can get out of that financial year. It is very important to highlight all the good that happened in the previous year, giving credit to everyone who worked very hard during that period. While doing this, you have to ensure that you focus on everything good that your team has done rather than announcing your own achievements.

Focus on the Future

In the end, talk about your future plans. Tell them about the learnings from the previous years and how they can work on them to get better in the next year. Emphasize more on the hope and a better future that follows the failure they went through in the past year.

3. The Spin Technique

This particular technique is often used by politicians when addressing the masses with a piece of sad news. They focus on the bottle half full instead of saying it is half empty. For example, when you see there has been a drop in customer satisfaction from 80% to 50%, you can say that 50% of the employees are satisfied with the product, and now let’s focus on the other 50%.

Here’s what you should do if you want to use this method:

Know Your Subject

When using this method, you have to go fully prepared with all the facts and numbers; the data has to be precise and will help you give examples as references. When you are prepared with all the details of the subject, it enables you to focus on the positive.

Use Statistics

In continuation of the first step, you have to make sure that you have all the stats required before you begin to talk. These stats support your point and make you come across as a strong leader.

Present Facts

Presenting the facts smartly is very important. Mark the points in red that could make your point weaker before you start your speech. Always go prepared with all the numbers that are important to the topic, and ensure that each number you state supports your point.

Appear Intellectual

When you finally address your audience, try to sound and appear intellectual to them. Only when you believe in what you are saying will your audience believe all the numbers and stats you state. You have to sound confident and present yourself like someone who knows their numbers, as this will minimize any doubts that might appear in their heads.

Be Positive

If you want your audience to buy the numbers you have been trying to sell, you must strongly believe in whatever you say. Make sure that your energy game is on point and always sound hopeful by choosing the right words.

Be Ready for Fallout

Someone in the audience might notice that you’re only showing a specific view of the company’s situation. After your talk, they might ask you questions or say negative things to others. Always be ready for such a situation and explain your point professionally and passionately.


Talking about not-good news is something none of us like. But sometimes, you might have to tell people something they won’t like. How you say, it will really affect how the listeners react. Using the methods mentioned earlier to talk about not-good news will make people think well of you and ultimately help your career.