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Delivering Difficult Messages


I am running a presentation course for managers and would like to include a section on behaviours to adopt when delivering difficult messages. Can anyone point me in the direction of good material
karen forrest

3 Responses

  1. Bad news … good news
    Try and get hold of a video of the first episode of “The Office” … or probably any episode. That’s the way it’s always done in my experience …

  2. contact
    If this is the same Karen I think it is, you should know about difficult messages from your time in Newcastle. Contact me on the attached email address?
    [email protected]

  3. Difficult messages
    Hi Karen,

    Without knowing the exact context of the “difficult message” it is difficult for me to respond in detail.

    If you are talking about difficult messages to groups then I can only suggest total openness. Give people the facts and illustrate to them the consequences of those facts then move on to the actions you are taking in response to those consequences and commit to keep people up-to-date on how those actions are delivering results. I have been through this and I know it works.

    If you are referring to difficult messages about personal performance on a 1-1 basis, then I have used a simple framework in the past which has worked well for me:
    1. Make it timely. If you have a difficult message to deliver, there is no advantage to delaying it.
    2. Make it balanced & fair. Difficult messages should not be based on hearsay or unresearched evidence or the receiver will quickly gain the upper hand on the manager.
    3. Make it specific. The meeting to discuss the difficult mesage should be for that objective alone and the manager should not be tempted to slide it in alongside other matters.
    4. Focus on behaviours. The key to successfully delivering a difficult message is to keep it as objective and impersonal as possible. It is not the person that is being criticised, only the behaviours and the impact those behaviours are having on other people/the company.
    5. Illustrate the undesirable behaviour with specific examples and quantify the undesirable impacts of that behaviour.
    6. Close on a positive note. Identify actions required to eliminate the undesirable behaviours and agree a timescale for review.
    A simple model like B.I.D. can assist you managers when preparing to give a difficult message.
    B = Behaviours. What behaviours is an indiviudual displaying that are undesirable.
    I = Impact. What impact are those behaviours having on the organisation, its customers or its other employees.
    D = Desired Outcome. What new behaviours are required to change the impact to a desirable one.

    Please feel free to call me to discuss in more depth. I might even be able to provide some content for you to use.


    Gary (Mobile: 0788 079 0815)

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