Some examples of negative messages include: receiving a letter of rejection for work, promotion request or school admission; policy changes that create hardship conditions for employees; being fired from a job; receiving a negative job evaluation; and rejection of grant application. These messages convey unpleasant information that is likely to upset, disappoint or anger the recipient.
How a negative message is delivered is important, as its style can determine the impact on the recipient. For negative reports to job applicants, starting off with positive or neutral words, then breaking the bad news gently helps the recipient handle the news in a good manner. When rejecting a promotion request, noting to the employee that they are next in line, gives them the motivation to continue to work towards that goal.
In the case of a negative job evaluation, it is important for the manager to sit with the employee and explain to them the reasons for the negative review. Care should be taken to provide helpful feedback and to avoid insulting the employee. Also be sure to cite some of the employee’s positive characteristics. In general, a buffer to cushion the negative message makes the delivery of bad news easier. It is important to always ensure courteous and helpful delivery.