No one likes breaking bad news. Breaking bad news is a complex communication task that requires verbal and non verbal skills. The evidence suggests that the bearer of bad news experiences strong emotions such as anxiety, a burden of responsibility for the news and a fear of negative response. This stress can result in a reluctance to deliver bad news, and the process of breaking bad news can have an adverse effect on those delivering the news. Talking about distressing subjects is unpleasant, but responsibility may be part of your role. Here are some things to remember to help you deliver the news.

What is bad news

Any news that drastically and negatively alters a persons view of his or her future.”

On hearing the news the person may feel very shocked even if they have known that they were going to loose their jobs. Hearing the words can have a very shocking effect. When someone receives bad news, it is not uncommon to have a strong physiological reaction to the news. Emotional shock is often not life-threatening. However, the body undergoes extreme stress reactions that can lead to greater physical issues. Some common symptoms of shock include:

  • Racing pulse
  • Weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Faintness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Nausea 
  • Clammy skin 
  • Rapid breathing etc. 

An insensitive approach increases the distress for recipients of bad news. This approach may exert a lasting impact on their ability to adapt and adjust, and can lead to added feelings of anger.

Prepare yourself –

It is important for you to prepare yourself, rehearse, practice and feel as comfortable as you can before delivering the news. Arrange to have some uninterrupted time and privacy. Be as comfortable as possible in the seat with your feet on the ground and breathing, remember to slow down your talking as the person could be confused.

Shock” will help you deliver the news

S : Sit down at the same eye level and try to have no barriers between you and the person, i.e. no tables. This simple technique gives the feeling that you are not rushing.

H: How to tell them. Keep it short and simple and include some POSITIVE points.  Be prepared for an emotional response which is very natural in the circumstance. How much do they understand, check it out with them to ensure they understand what you have said.

O: Organise a time for them to come back for more clarity in a day or two. This enables the person to clarify any information already given and to get more information.

C: Check how they are going to get home, who is their contact person to chat with after getting the news, and how they will look after themselves

K: Know the importance of minding yourself after giving the news, others emotions will impact you. How might you mind yourself, whom will you talk to.Take time to look after your needs

A sensitive approach decreases the anziety of recipients of bad news. This approach may have a lasting impact on their ability to adapt and adjust and enable them to be more resilient. Knowing that you were empathetic is a great start.

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