Have you ever experienced that you needed to deliver bad news or a difficult message to someone else? In this episode, we will discuss what bad news or a difficult message actually is and why we find it so challenging to share these messages with others. Additionally, you will also learn how to effectively communicate difficult news to someone else.
If you want, you can read the transcriptions of Episode 6 of Under The Baobab Tree here:
Hello, and welcome back under the baobab tree. I'm so happy we're here together again. So, have you ever had, that you didn't want to go somewhere? Or that you didn't want to do something that someone else asked? Or that you wanted to break up a relationship? Or change plans? Or did it already happen to you that you needed to bring someone very sad or difficult news. This episode is about how to bring bad news to someone else, how to share a difficult message. First of all, it is important to know that it is difficult because we care, because we don't want to hurt someone else. This uncomfortable feeling that we have when we need to share that difficult information to someone else is actually out of care, protection, or love.
Well, there are some people here on earth who don't care how someone else feels and therefore just blatantly share, say what they want to say, without even thinking or worrying how it would land for someone else. If that's you, this episode is not for you.
But on the other hand, there are people who pain themselves so much in advance, and even hold themselves in, in sharing the difficult message because of being too empathic, not wanting to be the cause of the pain, or because of fear. They think a 1000 times in their head how to say something or postpone to say the message. Some people even don't say it or lie about it, because just saying it is like a nightmare to them. So that's what we will talk about today. Because when there is a difficult message that needs to be shared, it needs to be shared, as difficult as it is.
So, what is bad news or a difficult message? It can be anything that feels difficult for you to say to someone else. Anything that you think that will hurt or disappoint the other person. It can be saying no, it can be when you set boundaries, it can be when you stop something or stop relationship. It can be communicating something bad that happened to a dear one, and so on. It can mean anything, really.
And, I've improved in this. But for me personally, too, I still find it very difficult when I need to bring difficult news or when I need to disappoint someone, especially when it has to do with me because you can disappoint someone with the news that, "oh, your friend won't be able to come to your birthday party", or you can disappoint the person with "I won't be able to come" and for a lot of people, it's even worse, to say this when they actually don't have a good societally accepted reason not to come that it's maybe more because they don't have the energy or they just don't feel it inside or it's not aligned.
Why do we find it so difficult to bring bad news? Well, one, what I already mentioned, because we care, and we don't want to hurt someone else. And two: we are often not ready to sit with the pain, or the grief or the disappointment of the other person. It is often very difficult for us to sit with uncomfortable feelings from someone else, or the emotions that we would call negative. It's a lot of times already difficult to sit with our own uncomfortable feelings. So let alone the feelings of someone else right. And sometimes this is mainly when the message is about your relationship, for example, like when you are involved, but it can also be in general.
So sometimes the other person is so deeply hurt, that he or she projects it's anger or sadness or disappointment on you. The person can start saying ugly words, can blame you, can even become aggressive. And of course this is also very heavy to take in and also we want to protect ourselves from. Or one of the reasons why we don't really like to bring difficult or bad news. But whatever the case, the message needs to be told. You can let it eat everything inside of you. It needs to get out of you.
How to bring bad news or or difficult message? Are you ready?
1. Okay, so first of all, make sure you are ready and in a good space, take some deep breaths if needed. If you don't feel ready, okay, then take some deep breaths, it really helps to calm down your own nervous system. 2. Then, when you are in front of the person, when the time is ready mention that you need to bring bad news, or that you need to bring a difficult message. Mention your own fear or concern. So mention for example, that you're worried that you won't be friends anymore, or that you are nervous in saying this. Or that you're scared that what you're going to say will be very difficult, and that you care about the person. And once you have said that, then say, "regardless of this, I really need to say it."
3. And then bring the message in a very clear and to the points way. And if the news is about you, about yourself, then try to talk as much as possible in the first person. So "I did this...", "I felt this...." So not "you did this." No, no, no, no talk about what you felt. So like you, yourself, not the other person. Don't try to point the finger. That's basically what I'm trying to say.
4. And then let the message sink in for the person and wait for a reaction. Maybe there are questions, maybe deep emotions, you know, maybe anger comes up. Let it be. And answer to questions if you can. But also be honest, if you can't. So this is an example, of course you can do it in your own way. But what I'm trying to say here is don't go around it. Just come to the point, bring it as quickly as possible.
Don't start to people please or sugarcoat afterwards. And you also don't need to explain yourself, you can if you want to. But it won't change the difficult feeling that a person's having. And you have every right to not explain further, to say that you don't know why there is nothing more you can say, that it is how you feel.
When we receive bad news or difficult news, we long for explanations a lot of the time to understand our pain, or maybe to ease our pain or to, you know, to find a way how to deal with it. But whatever the other person says, In the end, the pain stays at that moment. And we need to go through it.
So what after bringing a difficult message, what do you do afterwards? Well, notice your own emotions coming up in reaction to the reaction of the person and breathe through them. Don't take the reaction of the person personally. And don't take it in too deeply if you're highly empathic or sensitive yourself. And this might feel very counter intuitive at first, but it's an important one. Make sure you meet your own needs. If you feel you can be there for the person, and the person wants you to be there, you can ask what a person needs or what you can do for her or him. If you feel it's too difficult to be there for the person, maybe check if there's someone else around that can support. Understand that bad news is never easy to receive and the person needs to go through difficult feelings at that time. And that is basically it.
So it's not that difficult. If you look objectively to it, it can be very quick. As a summary, we can say that it's basically our own care for the other person that holds us back or can give us this uncomfortable feeling when we need to share some bad news or bring a difficult message and that can feel very heavy.
One golden tip in bringing bad news is to figure out beforehand what your own worry is, so I mean before you will bring the bad news right? What are you scared of in bringing the difficult message and once you understand your own worry, your own fear, you can take that into account. You can mention it. When you bring the news, you can go through your own fears first, really take time to feel them, or breathe deeply through them. So just remember, it's not the easiest to bring bad news or a difficult message. It's also not easy to receive it. But if it is what needs to be said, it is important to say it.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode. I would love to hear from you how this episode landed, what it did to you, what your thoughts are, I would love to hear from you. So if you want to reach out to me or work with me in a one on one coaching session, you will find my website and all the details in the show notes.
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Thank you for being here. Thank you for listening. I'm looking forward to the next episode. Hope to see you there. I'm so grateful for you. Bye bye!
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