Everyone loves good news because they make us feel good. News like getting a promotion, winning a new contract, receiving positive feedback, whatever it might be, gives us a buzz. Good news release the happy hormones in our body which lift our mood and provide a natural antidote to stress.

The reverse it true for bad news. We naturally don’t like bad news. Nobody wants to hear that things are not going well, that something hasn’t worked, or we have failed. When we get bad news we often try to push them away or ignore them, because they do the opposite of good news – they naturally trigger worries, stress us and make us less happy.

At work, bad news are often hidden, brushed under the carpet, or ignored. The reasons for this are that no one wants to admit they made a mistake and we often believe that the bearers of bad news put themselves in the firing line. In the interest of our own career progression and to keep the general mood up, we don’t talk about bad news.

Leaders are often sheltered from bad news. People around them protect them, they love to only tell the good news, and because this makes everyone feel better. In many instances it is personality or the company culture that make it difficult for anyone to bring bad news.

What we have to do is to change our responses to bad news. Instead of the more natural “oh no, I can't believe it. I don’t want to know” reaction, we have to force ourselves to respond more positively along the lines of: “thank you so much for telling me. I really appreciate that.” This does take some conscious effort and requires extra efforts the higher up you are in the organization because of all the people that might 'filters' the truth.
我们要做的就是改变我们对待坏消息的反应。我们应该迫使自己回应地更加正面,譬如:“非常感谢你告诉我。我非常感激。”而不是更自然地回应道“哦,不,我不敢相信。我不想要知道。” 你在公司中的地位越高,你就越需要花精力有意识地去了解坏消息,因为你从下面得到的消息已经经过了层层的“过滤”了。

There are three things that really good (and successful) leaders do when it comes to bad news:

1. They work on the way they personally react to bad news and make a conscious effort to react positively.

2.They create an environment where bad news are welcome. Where people are expected to rise issues as soon as they appear, rather than hiding them. They often create an environment where the consequences for not telling bad news far outweigh the potential consequences of telling bad news.

3. They make sure to celebrate turnaround stories: where people have come up and told the bad news, and were the right actions were taken straight away to contain or eliminate the problem. Sharing these stories will help to create the right environment and will send out the signals that it is not only important to share bad news, but that the reactions and consequences are positive.