I know that we have all been there before. You heard something bad about your friend/loved one or you have some bad news to tell them (maybe because of something you did) but you really don’t know how to tell them. Here are a few things you can take into consideration when telling somebody you love some bad news.
- First of all… (the most important thing) YOU MUST REMIND YOURSELF THAT YOU ARE NOT THE BAD GUY!!! You did not purposely go out searching for this information, you are not intentionally trying to hurt their feelings, nor did you cause the situation in the 1st place.
- Tell them in person or actually have a conversation with them. One way conversations are easy to misinterpret (texts, letters or voicemail) whereas when you’re physically with someone or talking to them, you can explain or clarify immediately so there’s less room for misunderstanding.
- You can always soften the blow with “praise,” tell them about some of their good qualities … EX: you are such a strong person, you really handle bad situations better than most people.
- Consider the setting and what else your friend/loved one is going through at the time. There’s never a great moment to have a tough talk, but you can avoid undue hurt by finding the least terrible time.
- Acknowledge how hard this is for you and for them… If you’re stumbling over how to start, maybe something like this >> I don’t know how to say this, but I must tell you something” or “I don’t want to scare you, but there’s something you need to know.”
- Uncomfortable as this can be, keep in mind that most people wind down after an initial outburst. Try not to interrupt or respond emotionally to the other person’s upset. If their anger escalates and feels unsafe, announce that you are providing some time to cool down, and leave the room.
- Be sure to express some empathy. For someone who is visibly crushed or sobbing hysterically, acknowledging your role in her distress (“I’m really sorry this is making you so upset”) lets them know you care despite the circumstances. If there are tears, offer Kleenex or a glass of water, and ask if she would like a few minutes of privacy.
Relaying bad news is never fun (unless you just like to be in the middle of drama or you like to see your friend’s hurt) but this is something that we must all learn to deal with. Being able to talk to your friend/loved one openly and honestly despite the circumstances they are going through marks a true friend. Being a good friend does actually require “work” Anything worth having is worth working for.