Study Finds Bad News is Best Delivered Directly, Clearly

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Oct 16, 2017
bad news

If you've got to deliver bad news to someone, perhaps an employee who didn't get the raise or promotion they've been angling for, a recent study has found that you shouldn't sugar coat anything or beat around the bush: just tell it to them straight, according to Inc. The study, conducted by researchers from Bringham Young University and University of South Alabama, looked at 145 participants who each received a range of different bad news scenarios and asked, for each one, what kind of delivery they'd prefer. For each message, they ranked how clear, considerate, direct, efficient, honest, specific and reasonable they perceived it to be, as well as which of those characteristics they valued the most. What they found was that, for the most part, participants wanted clarity and directness over other characteristics. The issue, the researchers hypothesize, is that a long buffer, that is padding the delivery with talk meant to cushion the blow, only serves to draw things out when the receiver already knows they're going to hear something bad. While doing so certainly makes things easier for the person giving the news, the study found that people desire little if any actual buffer and would rather just be told straight up what was happening. The news is still bad, that won't change, but at least you won't make things worse by prolonging the situation more than necessary. 

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