The Best Way to Get Bad News – Communicate Effectively

Scott Dryden on February 11, 2022

It is the time of season where Cupid strikes his bow. There is no better occasion to discuss communication, after all it is the foundation of all quality relationships.

Emoji Gifs(1)Or at least that is what I’ve been told, repeatedly mind you

Know Your Audience: 

As a kid I was often told to know my audience, who am I kidding – I’m still hearing that today. Maybe it has finally sunk in. In today’s society, we humans are bombarded with information on many levels but most of us may react to the message differently based on how it is delivered and our familiarity or bond with the sender. A huge part of knowing your audience (customers) is understanding how they want to be communicated with and in essence who they are. In addition, communicating in the manner they choose in a concise fashion can reduce confusion, create brand loyalty, increase customer retention and eliminate being “left on read.” 

Emoji GifsScratch the last part about being left on read – my therapist said to let that go.

If you are consistently receiving bad news or getting dumped, perhaps you do not have a deep understanding of your customers, thus are surprised when they leave. In the digital world, effective communications in many respects are based on frequency, content, and the often-overlooked method of delivery. 

Effective Communication

Sharing bad news is never fun. Sure, there is the easy way out, such as the old go-to “it’s not you, it’s me” drivel

Emoji Gifs(3)(Of course that has never happened to me)

But in the end, it leaves both parties unfulfilled and searching for more answers.

Emoji Gifs(6)

Why am I tearing up as I write this?

When delivering a difficult communication of any sort, especially interpersonal communications, it is important to distribute the communication in the manner the recipient prefers. The initial emotional reaction may still occur, but logic and understanding will soon follow. Communicating with your customers in the manner they choose, even if it may not be the news they hoped for, will strengthen, and potentially prolong the professional relationship. Companies with a poor communications strategy risk being “ghosted” – and trust me that is no fun.   

Become an Engaged Listener: 

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” - Doug Larson. Executives spend a significant amount of time and money on trying to understand their customers, the voice of the customer as it is often coined. The key or at least the first step should be listening. A big piece in knowing your audience is having the mechanisms in place to “listen.” Surveys can help overcome some of the common barriers which include obtaining genuine feedback from the customer and capturing/compiling the data. Who better to learn from than the customers themselves? Relating this back to relationships of a different sort, if only I could have received surveys from love interests in the past – or maybe it is better I didn’t.  

I’m sure active listening, or rather the lack thereof, would have been a common theme.

Emoji Gifs(2)In fairness, who can really pay attention to anything during Super Bowl week, the MLB season, March Madness, the UFC PPV fight, the NFL Draft, college and pro football seasons, I believe there is a big boxing match soon, … I digress.

The point is, active listening is more than just hearing, it often requires action. In the case of your customers, knowing the data is one thing, but being able to access it easily and efficiently and acting upon said data, is a pivotal component of customer satisfaction and retention.  

Good News: 

Perusing through candy hearts reading messages such as “Be Mine, Cutie Pie, True Love” – is a warm reminder that not all messages are bad news. Effective communication strategies apply to good news as well. Think about the butterflies early in a relationship – in large part evoked by communication styles, the same can be said for new customers. Welcome them aboard right out of the gate! This strategy can cement the partnership in the early stages and aid in customer retention/loyalty throughout the customer journey.  

“Communicating with anyone important in your life in the digital age - via the channel they prefer is an essential piece of creating a bond.” St Valentine 210 A.D., probably.