Boris is the smart ol’ CEO of TNW who writes a weekly column on every thing about being an entrepreneur in tech — from managing stress to embracing awkwardness. You may get his musings straight to your inbox by signing up for his newsletter!

I just lately needed to ship some unhealthy information to a gaggle of individuals. Delivering unhealthy information is a part of the job, and I don’t wish to complain about it. I don’t have the benefit of it (quite the opposite), however I additionally wish to do it proper. Form of like a health care provider who would possibly must do one thing that’ll  damage the affected person with the intention to make them higher. 

I feel you’ll be able to deal with a disaster, or unhealthy information, in an excellent or unhealthy approach, and I’m completely satisfied if I could make one of the best of a nasty scenario. There’s a bizarre contradiction in there, however such is life.

I’ve discovered a number of classes by way of the years in delivering unhealthy information, and I believed I’d share these with you.

Announce, clarify, repeat

Once we do a presentation at TNW, we attempt to begin with the precise announcement. Get it out as quickly as doable, and don’t construct as much as it. Then clarify what and why, after which repeat the announcement and are available to a conclusion. 

I’ve typically felt the necessity to first clarify the why and the way after which come to a conclusion with the announcement. That’s a mistake I’ve made too many occasions. Individuals really feel you’re working in direction of the precise announcement and wish you to simply spit it out — so don’t preserve them ready. Begin together with your announcement, then clarify, then repeat the conclusion.

Be trustworthy, and don’t sugarcoat

I’m a persuasive motherfucker and have a tendency to bullshit my approach out of a number of issues. My pure inclination is to sugarcoat every thing. However though I feel I’m good at that, I’m not. Individuals learn by way of bullshit, and admire honesty much more than a shit-sandwich (unhealthy information packed in between excellent news). Be trustworthy, and begin with the reality. 

Make certain to supply ample proof, information, and background on request alongside together with your unhealthy information. The extra information you need to again up your announcement, the higher. However watch out to not overload your viewers.

If the information is crucial, folks will want a while to digest and perceive what you’re saying. If you happen to throw an excessive amount of information at them, you’ll lose your viewers. However… it’s nice to have the info prepared in order that if there’s a request for extra information, you’ll be able to present it.

Sooner is healthier than later

It’s important to consider the way you’re going to ship the information, who to inform first, to make an motion plan, and many others. But it surely’s additionally crucial to offer folks the information as quickly as doable. 

I’d quite be quick, and stutter and provides an unpolished story,  and present that I wasted no time in sharing my information, quite than losing time on crafting a brilliant polished story.

Be private, with out hiding behind it

If I’m genuinely emotional, I don’t thoughts displaying that. I feel some folks discover I get flustered and my voice breaks a bit after I’m delivering unhealthy information. I’m human, I’ve emotions, and I’m delicate. I’m not ashamed to indicate that. However I might by no means make the error of claiming to somebody who’s about to lose their job “yeah, I really feel terrible too.” 

Feelings will not be a foreign money you should utilize as a device, and if folks see you try this, it’ll come over as an insult. Be trustworthy, in addition to honest.

Time to digest

I’ve mentioned it earlier than, however it’s price it to emphasise: By the point you ship unhealthy information, you’ve already had time to grasp it, think about the implications, after which take into consideration the wording. You may need had time to sleep on it. Your viewers may have rather a lot much less time to course of it. 

They’re listening, processing, digesting, and calculating what this implies whereas listening to you ship the information for the primary time. You had a number of hours or days as a head begin. So keep in mind to offer your viewers a while. Make the additional effort of explaining issues twice, or thrice. Give folks the choice to achieve out to you straight to debate issues.


Life is filled with surprises, and never all of them are optimistic. I feel there’s honor in with the ability to ship unhealthy information totally and constructively. Coping with the excellent news is straightforward; delivering unhealthy information takes expertise. Hone these expertise, after which hope you’ll want them as little as doable. 

Can’t get sufficient of Boris? Take a look at his older tales right here, and join TNW’s newsletters here.

Revealed March 12, 2020 — 14:34 UTC

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