How to Tell Someone Bad News

If delivering bad news is a struggle, these tips will ease the stress.

You will need

  • A private location
  • Tissues
  • A friend of family member (optional)

Step 1 Rehearse the bad news Practice saying the bad news and focus on words or phrases to use and ones to avoid.

Step 2 Meet in private Meet somewhere private where you can talk quietly without interruption, such as a bedroom, bathroom, or windowless office.

Step 3 Find out what they know Find out what the person knows to avoid repeating information and prolonging an uncomfortable situation.

Step 4 Get to the point Get right to the point and don’t ramble or make small talk. This delays the inevitable and can increase tension.

Step 5 Comfort the person Comfort the person with a touch when appropriate, but be aware of social or cultural conventions that may make the situation worse.

Step 6 Answer questions Make time to answer questions and allow the person to grieve if necessary. Offer a tissue.