A bad way to deliver bad news

From time to time, bad news is unavoidable. There is, however a way of delivering it.

Moments after being crowned “Miss Universe” on stage, Miss Columbia, learned that she was, in fact, only runner up.  As she stood centre stage blowing kisses, the host announced his mistake.  In front of amazed onlookers, the crown was taken from her head and given to Miss Philippines.   Can there have been a worst way to deliver bad news?  Judge for yourself with a link to the incredible video here.


Planning to deliver bad news

When you are about to deliver bad news, at least you know it is coming.  That can’t be said for the person on the receiving end.  As always preparation and respect are key.

  • Gather any evidence first.
  • Plan what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.
  • Are there any questions you will need to ask?
  • What might they ask you?
  • Can you explain why this is happening or what they could do differently?
  • Think about the emotions you may face and how to deal with these.
  • Is there anything practical you will need to do (eg collect from them)?

Show respect

Poor Miss Columbia was literally centre stage as her bad news was delivered.  It’s important to show respect at a difficult time:

  • Hold the meeting in a confidential room.
  • If possible, hold it where they will not be seen or come out past gawping colleagues.
  • Make sure you will not be disturbed.
  • Turn off your mobile phone.
  • Have a box of tissues ready just in case.
  • If they become upset, suggest a break to gather their thoughts.  Never say “calm down”, it usually makes things worse.
  • At formal meetings, they will have the right to be accompanied.


How you deal with a difficult situation will not only affect the person concerned but also how other staff will see you.  The whole world has now seen what happened to Miss Columbia.  If you are concerned about delivery bad news to an employee, please contact me.

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