Lesson 2.15a

Clearing The Air: Delivering Bad News

Dive into this topic with the following exercise, then read the key concepts below it:

Key Concepts:


If you need to clear the air by delivering bad news before you can get back into a productive collaboration, use the ABES framework

  1. A for Acknowledge: Start your conversation by telling the person you’re about to deliver some bad news. Don’t surprise them halfway through a conversation.

  2. B is for Band-Aid: After telling them that bad news is coming, rip the band-aid off by giving them the summary of the bad news first. Again, don’t make them guess, and don’t drag out the pain.

  3. E is for Explain: After you’ve given the headline, explain the rationale.

  4. S is for Space: People react to bad news in different ways. Don’t put the person in a position of having to later be embarrassed for their on-the-spot reaction to something unpleasant. Give them the opportunity to process, and suggest a second conversation to discuss questions or feedback, if they would like it.

Bad news is no fun to give anyone. But it is often even more difficult to clear up something negative that has to do with a person themselves. For that, we have another, more sensitive framework…