I’m Afraid I Have Some Bad News…

A Critical Doer Is Willing To Lead & Follow 

It’s been said that there’s a bright side to everything.  It may seem odd that bad news has a bright side, but it’s no surprise to a critical doer.  For those committed to thinking critically and doing energetically, we know that everything doesn’t always go as planned.

A critical doer also knows that to get things accomplished, you have to earn the trust of your customer, boss, employers, coworkers, and even your family; it’s an essential part of good leadership and followership.  The way you handle bad news goes a long way in earning that trust.  The guiding principle to focus on is that adversity does not define us; our reaction to adversity does.

I have a three step process for handling bad news that I believe you’ll find helpful. The process will help you get past the short term disappointment and pave the way to the long term with trust still intact.  All you have to do is follow the three “ess”es…confess it, assess it, address it.

  1. Confess it. It’s no different than what your mother taught you; don’t make a bad thing a worse thing by lying about it.  If you haven’t learned it yet, secrets are rare in the workplace…you will eventually be found out.  Bad news, or mistakes, generated from something technically incorrect can generally be fixed with training.  Deceit and concealment are character flaws that employers, subordinates, and customers rarely have the forbearance to forgive and forget…much less rehabilitate.
  2. Assess it. Discovery is the first step to recovery.  If you can demonstrate a firm grasp of what went wrong and why, confidence can grow because you still have firm grasp of the situation.  “Assess it” is not the same as assignment of blame…if you own something, own it in good and bad.  Blaming others is a tacit admission that you are not in control, and there is no long term future for you in consistently following this path.
  3. Address it. After stating the bad news plainly and dispassionately, and making the assessment to determine a root cause, it’s time to take action and make the situation right.  Concrete steps to make amends goes a long way to reestablish trust and get things done.  Remember…an apology is only words until action makes it real.

I challenge you to commit the three “ess”es to memory and do some soul searching to ensure you are mentally and spiritually prepared when…not if…when your time comes to deliver bad news.   It’s essential to leadership and followership as how we conduct ourselves in the moment of truth reveals our true character.  When your time comes, make sure you’re ready to handle your business in a way that says “no matter what…you can trust me.”  It’s what a critical doer would…do!


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Updated: January 10, 2015 — 3:09 am