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Thread: What's the best way to break bad news?

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    boop, got your nose stevie lee's Avatar
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    What's the best way to break bad news?

    Inspired by this article on the BBC NEWS webiste and things that have happened to me recently. I was curious as to what people on HEXUS think is the best way to break bad news.

    There have been a few occasions where i've had to deal some bad news to people and i just felt awful, nervous and sweaty doing it.

    I was just wondering what the best/worst methods were..

    post away

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    radix lecti dave87's Avatar
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    Re: What's the best way to break bad news?

    Not to detract from a serious thread, but I'm sorry - this made me laugh:

    Quote Originally Posted by BBC Link
    "I really don't know how this company would survive without you, but from Monday, I thought we'd give it a try and find out."
    Marc, Wigan
    doh!

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    Guy
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    Re: What's the best way to break bad news?

    I wouldnt say there is a 'best' way as such.

    It all depends on the news itself, who is involved, how they would be affected etc.

    What some find the best way to aproach things like this, others might not like or get on with at all.

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    Admin team peterb's Avatar
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    Re: What's the best way to break bad news?

    In my very humble opinion - because it is a difficult subject - a lot depends on what the news is, your personality, and how well (if at all) you know the person or people you are breaking the bad news to.

    I think the direct approach is best. - on the lines of "I'm sorry to have to break some bad news to you..." - it minimizes the time taken between theannouncement that it is bad news - and the news itself. I also think tome of voice is important - low and calm, and a little matter of fact, but with compassion.

    I have had to break news of serious illness of a child to someone working for me (and several thousand miles from the UK at the time) and there have been other occasions - and it isn't easy.

    There is also the reaction of the person you are breaking the news too - and I think (again it is only an opinion) that it is that that causes the fear for the person breaking the news - so a calm quiet approach keeps you calm ready for their reaction - an you need to be ready to deal with that as empathically as you can - try to put yourself in their situation - how they might be feeling, and how you would want someone to react to you.

    But as I say, it is circumstances - if it is someone you know socially - and they aren't expecting it it will be a greater shock - on the other hand they may think that something is not quite right just from your sub-conscious body language.

    On the other hand, if you are (say) a uniformed policeman the person may suspect that it could be bad news - it is the degree or nature that is unknown - which is why I think that it is kinder to break the news as quickly but as gently as possible.

    And having had bad news broken to me in the past, that is how I would prefer it to be.

    Hope that helps - and if you are in a position to have to break bad news soon then my thoughts are with you. It isn't easy, but get it right and you make it marginally easier for both that person and yourself.

    But to end on a lighter note - probably the hardest thing I had to do was tell a fellow student at University that his personal hygiene needed some attention (use of a shower and soap and change a shirt more than once a fortnight) and after that nothing seemed quite so difficult.
    Last edited by peterb; 02-06-2010 at 10:31 PM.
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    boop, got your nose stevie lee's Avatar
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    Re: What's the best way to break bad news?

    Some of the bad news I'm talking about is how do you tell someone that they're too 'big' for a scooter?

    there have been a few occasions in the past, where clients have come in to shopmobility and been to big for the machine, the manager has stepped in and dealth with the situation though. When i have to deliver the scooters to hotels, i'm the first and only person at shopmob to meet them and have to decide whether theyre suitable for hiring to.

    how do you tell someone, who says they've hired the same machine at other shopmobilities around the country and not had a problem, that we cant hire to them because they are too large or heavy?

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    Seething Cauldron of Hatred TheAnimus's Avatar
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    Re: What's the best way to break bad news?

    Don't you have to weigh them first?

    If they are too tall you can play that angle, "it wouldn't be comfortable". No one can take offence to been told their tall, it would be like taking offence to been told there is no welsh in you.
    throw new ArgumentException (String, String, Exception)

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    Re: What's the best way to break bad news?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAnimus View Post
    No one can take offence to been told their tall, it would be like taking offence to been told there is no welsh in you.
    Lol! That's great signature material...

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    HEXUS.social member finlay666's Avatar
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    Re: What's the best way to break bad news?

    Best way to break bad news..... with cake, the tastier the cake the better
    H3XU5 Social FAQ
    Quote Originally Posted by tiggerai View Post
    I do like a bit of hot crumpet

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    jim
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    Re: What's the best way to break bad news?

    I think most of the time it's best to be straight with people. I don't mean if someone's fat, call them fat though.

    Just that I hate it when people make a big fuss. Like having a long friendly discussion first just to "lessen the blow". People can tell that bad news is coming, and will get progressively stressed as the conversation goes on. Get it out of the way quickly.

  10. #10
    boop, got your nose stevie lee's Avatar
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    Re: What's the best way to break bad news?

    in this case cake is the cause of the problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAnimus View Post
    Don't you have to weigh them first?
    that opens up a whole new barrel of fish, how do you ask a sensitive, vulnerable, overweight person if they mind being weighed? plus i'll have to take a set of scales out with me on every delivery.


    If they are too tall you can play that angle, "it wouldn't be comfortable". No one can take offence to been told their tall, it would be like taking offence to been told there is no welsh in you.
    do people take offence if they are told that they're too short?
    although in some cases its funny and results in funny in-jokes

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    HEXUS.social member Allen's Avatar
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    Re: What's the best way to break bad news?

    Quote Originally Posted by finlay666 View Post
    Best way to break bad news..... with cake, the tastier the cake the better
    J.D.: What happened?
    Dan Dorian: What, a guy can't take three days off work, travel eight hundred miles on a bus with a double-layer fudge cake just to say "Hey, how're things?"
    J.D.: Dan...
    Dan Dorian: Dad died.

    On a more serious note, I can tell you the worst way to break bad news... Don't tell them because you're too scared of their reaction, wait and wait and wait until it becomes seriously bad news, then shout it down the phone to them whilst waiting at a bus stop. Not good.

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    HEXUS.social member finlay666's Avatar
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    Re: What's the best way to break bad news?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen View Post
    J.D.: What happened?
    Dan Dorian: What, a guy can't take three days off work, travel eight hundred miles on a bus with a double-layer fudge cake just to say "Hey, how're things?"
    J.D.: Dan...
    Dan Dorian: Dad died.

    On a more serious note, I can tell you the worst way to break bad news... Don't tell them because you're too scared of their reaction, wait and wait and wait until it becomes seriously bad news, then shout it down the phone to them whilst waiting at a bus stop. Not good.
    I was thinking more...

    A: I did <insert terrible thing>
    B: How could you? <tears etc>
    A: But I got cake
    B: om nom nom
    H3XU5 Social FAQ
    Quote Originally Posted by tiggerai View Post
    I do like a bit of hot crumpet

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