Strategies for Delivering Negative Messages

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  • 0:01 Negative Messages
  • 0:52 Indirect Approach
  • 1:33 Direct Approach
  • 2:05 Goodwill/Respectful Close
  • 2:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
It is always difficult to deliver negative messages in the workplace. There are specific strategies that can help determine the most polite, professional and appropriate manner to deliver bad news in business.

Negative Messages

Have you ever had to deliver bad news to someone? Did it cause you to ponder the best way to deliver the negative message? In the workplace, negative messages are rejections due to job applications, promotion requests, evaluations, firings, layoffs or new policy changes that can create a hardship for the employee. In business, individuals have to find the best way to effectively communicate negative messages to the receiver without causing too much stress, insult and pain.

Sylvia is the manager of the Fish Bites restaurant in town. She has to fire the new cook as he has been spitting in the food and has caused customers to get sick. Sylvia is now faced with deciding how she will tell him the bad news. Indirect and direct methods are two distinct ways to deliver negative messages in the workplace. Let's take a look at each approach.

Indirect Approach

The indirect method is an approach where negative news is delivered with a positive buffer statement before proceeding with the bad news. A buffer statement is a sentence that is used to cushion the bad news. It can contain some positive news or a carefully worded cautionary statement. After a buffer statement, the message should contain valid reasons for the bad news. Next, the bad news should be delivered as nicely as possible. Finally, try and end with a positive communication. This delivery method is best used when the receiver of the message is emotionally invested in the news or will be blindsided by the information.

Direct Approach

The second way to deliver negative messages is through the direct approach. This approach works best when the receiver of the communication is accepting of the news. It also can be used if the individual expects the negative outcome. Sylvia is considering to not use this method as she believes the cook is not prepared to accept the bad news of a firing. In the direct method, the message opens up with the bad news. Then, an explanation is given and, finally, some positive news to complete the message.

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