communicating negative messages

Communicating Negative Messages: Delivering Bad News Skillfully
HRCI: 1.5 Credits
SHRM: 1.5 PDCs

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No business communicator enjoys delivering bad news, which will usually disappoint, irritate, or sometimes anger those who receive it. But at one time or another, all professionals will be faced with the unpleasant task of having to deny customers’ requests, reject applications for credit, inform employees of policy changes, or tell job applicants that they have not been hired. Bad-news messages must be delivered carefully, with the ultimate goal being acceptance of the message by those to whom it is directed.

This online course identifies the steps to follow when communicating negative messages using either the direct or indirect approach. The course explains and gives examples of strategies for buffering the bad news before it is delivered, relating the bad news in a manner designed to lessen the pain it might cause, and closing the message in a manner that maintains the message receiver’s good will.

Managers, Supervisors, Employees & HR Professionals

90 minutes

To instruct business professionals in the techniques and strategies needed to communicate negative or unwelcome news effectively and tactfully to colleagues, clients, and customers.

After completing this course, the learner will be able to:

  • identify the goals for delivering bad news to colleagues, clients, and customers;
  • recognize and avoid potential legal problems associated with delivering negative messages in the workplace;
  • recognize the components of typical negative messages;
  • implement the direct and indirect patterns of delivering bad news;
  • select and use strategies for refusing routine requests;
  • craft and deliver bad-news messages to customers and clients while maintaining their good will; and
  • craft and deliver bad-news messages to an organization’s employees and job applicants.


  1. General Guidelines for Crafting and Delivering Negative Messages
  2. Legal Pitfalls to Avoid When Delivering Bad News
  3. Buffering Bad News Messages
  4. Explaining Bad News
  5. How to Communicate the Bad-News Message using the Indirect Method
  6. Closing a Bad News Message Appropriately
  7. How to Deliver Bad News Directly
  8. Strategies for Delivering Bad News to Customers
  9. How to Communicate Bad News to Employees and Job Applicants

HRCI logoThis Activity has been approved for 1.5 HR (General) recertification credit hours toward aPHR™, aPHRi™, PHR®, PHRca®, SPHR®, GPHR®, PHRi™ and SPHRi™ recertification through HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®). The use of this official seal confirms that this Activity has met HR Certification Institute's® (HRCI®) criteria for recertification credit pre-approval.

SHRM logoThis Activity has been approved for 1.5 PDCs toward SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP® recertification. The Human Equation is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP® recertification activities.