Sometimes You Have To Just Say It

In organisations we are all to a greater or lesser extent looking to keep the bad news or reality away from people.

Now clearly there are going to be times when there are commercial confidentiality issues that mean you have to keep things under wraps.

Yet in truth this is more likely to be the exception rather than the rule.

I’m sure we all have encountered situations where the harsh reality of the situation an organisation is facing is kept quiet.

Then something significant happens and it all comes as a shock to people.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting every bit of bad or good news is shared with everyone.

On the other hand what I would advocate a degree of openness and honesty with people.

Obviously you are going to choose your words carefully.

For me I suggest the following structure.

Tell them the problem

Whatever it is.

Tell them about the impact

The problem is having.

Tell them about the potential consequences

If nothing happens.

Tell them about the action in hand

To help improve the situation.


Ask for their ideas

Rarely is it the people at the top who have all of the best ideas or solutions. Usually it’s someone in the organisation who can see what others can’t. Only thing that is stopping them speaking up a lot of the time is that they don’t think they have the authority.

In many ways it’s tough to tell people how things really are. At the same time they are in my experience more ready to help find solutions if you give them the opportunity.

Duncan Brodie helps professionals build their soft skills.