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No one likes to be the bearer of bad tidings. However, circumstances arise in our lives that make it necessary to deliver bad news to the family. Emotions run high, making an already tense and lamentable situation even worse. By using a few practical steps and taking a deep breath, you can lessen the impact of the news. Here’s how to deliver bad news to the family and lessen the emotional impact.
Get Yourself Together First
Don’t give someone else bad news if you are still upset. Calm yourself down first before approaching anyone else. If you deliver bad news while emotional, you might accidentally leave out important information. Think about how a doctor delivers bad news to a patient’s family—without passion or prejudice and always calmly. Being emotional will supercharge the news, and the person hearing it might think things are worse than they really are. Take some deep breaths and calm down before moving forward.
Make Eye Contact
Make sure the person is sitting down and sit down yourself as well. Don’t stand, looming over them, as it makes you seem intimidating and ominous. Maintain eye contact with them during the talk. This helps you connect with them emotionally and tells them that you are invested in this moment with them.
Understand the Audience
Your audience will be a family member, so you probably know them well. Consider who you are talking to when sharing the news. Do they prefer a direct approach, or are they more sensitive and emotional? Take everything you know about this person into account when crafting your message, and do everything possible to soften the blow.
If something happened between two family members, it’s important that you don’t take sides. Remain neutral in the situation, especially if it doesn’t affect you personally. Stick to what you know and don’t offer any commentary on the situation. Taking sides in a volatile situation will only make things worse.
Prepare To Deliver the News
Prepare your remarks ahead of time. You don’t have to write a speech, but don’t blurt out the first thing that pops into your head. Take some time to think about what you will say and how you’ll say it. Practicing the conversation will make it easier to say the words easier without getting emotional. The receiver needs to know everything, so don’t leave anything out when preparing your speech.
Speak at an Appropriate Level
Don’t treat children like adults and don’t treat adults like children. Make sure you evaluate the situation and your audience before speaking. Speaking to someone above or below their level of understanding will only make the news harder to hear. Deliver bad news to family in as calm and soothing a tone as possible.