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This information is intended to convey the underlying concepts for Reclamation's decision processes. It is not mandatory.
See the Reclamation Manual for official Reclamation-wide requirements.

Reclamation's Decision Process Guide

Breaking Bad News

go through page What to do / Go On


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navigate in the page--What to do

Headless messengers discourage others from giving you a dose of reality. Cultivate sources of information--even if you don't like what they tell you.

Make sure you are the one to break the news first--even though this is the LAST thing you want to do. Use simple, straightforward terms to explain the situation. Frequently, long term benefits can be reaped from short term crises--if they are handled properly. Present it in a positive manner to build the credibility and support you will need to deal with it:

  • What happened. (Be objective--people are watching!)
  • What it means--consequences, delays, new complications
  • What you don't know (This will help show your honesty)
  • How you will get the needed information
  • How you will deal with the situation
  • What others can do and are doing to help

Even though you provide the information, don't be surprised if people simply refuse to hear it. You may need to enlist others or show the significance of the problem. You might use humor to break the mood--but do so judiciously. Poke fun at yourself a bit.


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navigate in the page--Go On

Check out other hints in: Getting success

Dragon Tour wide-eyed dragon on the looseMyth Truths <-------> Hurdles Chart

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Please contact Deena Larsen 303-445-2584 with questions or comments on this material.