The Scientifically Proven Ways to Deliver Bad News
No one likes hearing bad news, but you can soften the blow with these research-backed strategies.
Bad news is hard. It’s hard to get, and it’s hard to give. Whether we’re giving feedback in a one-on-one, telling a client we missed a deadline or having to correct someone’s work, we all dread giving and getting bad news.
Why? Because humans have what is known as a negativity bias. That means bad news hits us much harder than good news, and stays with us long after. This is the product of evolution. “It is evolutionarily adaptive for bad to be stronger than good,” writes researcher Roy Baumeister. “Survival requires urgent attention to possible bad outcomes but is less urgent with regard to good ones.”
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