More on how to deliver bad news

This summary of a Harvard Business Review article — “A Better Way to Deliver Bad News” — outlines a useful process for avoiding unnecessary conflict.  I won’t recapitulate the restrictive vs. open framing approach, but I have a few comments:

  1. I have a visceral reaction to the framing jargon.  I understand it is derived from the communications theory, but if you’re going to leverage this approach I’d use “feedback” or “communication” rather than “framing”.
  2. The two biases are critical to understand why this technique is effective.  Avoiding a “narrow”, “binary”, or “frozen” approach prevents you from missing cause/effect relationships, projecting yourself onto the situation, or putting your colleague in a win/lose corner.  When coaching on open feedback, I’ve found it useful to have a personal anecdote of when a restrictive approach failed.
  3. It can appear artificial and sometimes I’ve been called on it (“You’re trying to criticize me without criticizing me”).  When that happens, I simply describe the technique I’m using and why I’m doing it.   That anecdote I mentioned earlier comes in handy too…

Hat tip: The Intelligent Leader Management Tip of the Day

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