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We asked Hilda Burke, Psychotherapist and life coach, to give her advice for breaking bad news without the drama after a study found that almost half of people have broken bad news to a loved one over dinner as they find it difficult to know when, and how, is best to have difficult conversations.

“Pick your moment – that moment is probably not when someone is feeling exhausted and ‘hangry’ after a long day’s work. Try to choose a time when you feel they’ll be able to really give their attention to what you’re trying to communicate.

“Don’t leave it too long! On one level this may somewhat contradict the above point, however, the important thing is to strike a balance between not ‘sitting’ on the news and sharing it as a knee jerk reaction at a time when the other person is feeling bad already. The longer it is left, the greater the possibility of frustration on the receiver’s part that they weren’t informed sooner.

“Own it. When we’re communicating something we feel bad about – for instance, we cannot do the thing we promised to do or we’ve broken someone’s favourite vase, it’s helpful to own our responsibility. However, this is more challenging than it sounds. How often have we been tempted, when we are providing a ‘let down’ to someone, to respond to their disappointment by throwing back something they ‘did’ to us that we didn’t like. This never helps – it will only serve to escalate the situation from one of disappointment to one of outright conflict and resentment.”

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