Business leaders have to communicate bad news all the time — these days more than ever. They have to tell people that their projects have been cancelled or their budgets slashed. That they didn’t get the promotion or bonus they were expecting. That their services aren’t needed any more or that their positions have been eliminated.
Of course it would.
That’s exactly what a study published in a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences found. Communicating bad news through email has two advantages:
- It ensures that the bad news is communicated accurately.
People tend to soften the bad news or to fudge when they’re forced to speak to another human being.
- It is less painful for the person delivering the bad news.
There’s no need to see the look on the other person’s face or to respond to the person’s questions, recriminations, or unpredictable expression of emotions.
And, to quote Hamlet, there’s the rub. Communicating bad news by email is less painful for the messenger. The study, it seems, did not look at how the person receiving the message was affected.
Frankly, I don’t see how you can consider yourself a leader if your main concern is shielding yourself from pain regardless of how your actions affect other people. But, hey, that’s just me.
Photo courtesy of Bobbie at Flickr.