The 8 do's and don'ts of delivering bad news

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When you're in a management position, you're often tasked with unpleasant duties, such as reprimanding employees or letting someone go. I've learned over the years that there are right ways and wrong ways to deliver bad news to one's employees.

Here are the do's and don'ts of having these unpleasant conversations.

1. Do prepare yourself

Make sure you have a rough idea of what you're going to say and how you're going to say it. Also, prepare yourself for every possible outcome -- the person receiving the bad news could get angry, cry, or (best case scenario) take it well. It is your job to be prepared to handle any reaction professionally.

2. Don't joke around

When delivering bad news, cracking jokes is disrespectful and comes off as rude. It may be difficult for some people to avoid because it's natural to want to lighten the mood in uncomfortable situations with humor, but you must avoid doing this at all costs to avoid coming off as insensitive.

Steve Carell as Michael Scott on 'The Office.'
NBC | Getty Images
Steve Carell as Michael Scott on 'The Office.'

3. Do give the employees the opportunity to speak their mind

Even if you know that what they have to say won't change the situation, they'll feel more validated knowing you heard them out.

4. Don't beat around the bush

Get to the point, be clear and concise, while still maintaining your composure. When you have to let people go, be direct about why they are being let go and what the process will be to finish out their work.

5. Do make an effort to be encouraging

If you're telling people that their hours are being cut or they're being laid off, you can put a positive spin on it by telling them that they have been a valuable asset to the company, and make sure they know that what is happening is not their fault.

6. Don't be too vague

If you're firing people, they have the right to know why. If you just let them go without providing any reason, they'll leave confused, upset, and with a bad impression about you and the company.

7. Do treat them with empathy

Before you even speak to these people, think about how you would feel if you were receiving the same news. While not letting yourself become overwhelmed with these emotions, keeping them in mind will help you handle the situation with more finesse.

8. Don't give advice unless asked

This may be another difficult one because it's natural to want to comfort somebody who is upset as much as possible, but giving unwanted advice can cause sadness to turn into anger in a split second.

Being in a position of authority isn't all rainbows and butterflies. A lot of the time, it requires you to do a lot of hard work, and some of that hard work is going to be playing the role of bearer of bad news. If you follow these tips, it should lighten the burden from both ends. The employee's reaction will (hopefully) be softer, making your job easier.

Rhett Power is the co-founder of Wild Creations and the author of "The Entrepreneurs Book of Actions."