Sometimes it’s inevitable—you have to deliver bad news in the workplace—but how you do it may make the world of difference.
“When you have to deliver bad news to someone, it’s not what you say or what even what you do, but how you say it. The worse the news, the more important it is the person feels that you truly understand them,” says expert networker and renowned ‘charisma coach’ Olivia Fox Cabane.
“Unfortunately, you can’t fake it; false empathy will most often be felt instinctively. People know, and can feel, the difference between a real smile, which shows genuine pleasure, and a fake one.
“The good news is that we have a natural tendency for empathy,” says Fox Cabane. “One of the easiest and most powerful ways to set this tendency in motion is to simply identify with the person. And when you do feel even the slightest bit of true concern, show it! Show your empathy in your facial expressions, your tone of voice, and then finally your words.
“Show that you fully understand not just how painful the news is, but all the unpleasant consequences it’ll bring. If you share a true moment of empathy, it can end up forming between you an even stronger bond than before the bad news you had to give.”