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How to Tell Someone Bad News

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


  • 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.
  • TIP: Bring a friend or family member along for comfort if you do not know the person you are talking to very well.
  • 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.
  • TIP: Be as clear as possible when delivering bad news. Avoid using metaphors or euphemisms.
  • 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.
  • FACT: Positive thinking can lower stress, increase a person's life span, boost their immune system, and reduce their risk of a heart attack.

You Will Need

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

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