5 Tips for Handling Bad News at Work

5 Tips for Handling Bad News at Work

by Brad McNally, Senior Editor 


brad.mcnallyIt’s a  difficult topic to deal with, but bad news does sometimes come out in the workplace. In any job, this is a possibility. Many in the library world have felt the effects of budget cuts, for example. While no one wants to see this happen, there are ways to move forward with positivity and professionalism. The process, though, takes a little time. It’s easy to be positive when times are good, but tough times do come, so here are a few steps you can take to help yourself.

Take Time

It is easy to be reactionary. If your company announces a furlough, many will feel that the best option is to pack their bags and head to any lifeline they can. This may or may not be wise. Stay calm and evaluate the situation. A temporary setback or change may be worth weathering provided you’re comfortable with things otherwise. A permanent change (such as a demotion) can be something even more difficult to handle, but take time for anything announced to sink in so you can move forward in the best possible way.

Remain Professional

When bad news comes many people let their emotions get the best of them. While you may disagree with any given decision, staying calm and remaining professional are important. Keep a calm demeanor and remember that you are more than just your job. It is difficult, but even if the position you are working in is being eliminated you have a professional life beyond this job, and you may need a reference in the future.

Consider Others

This one is also difficult because when bad news comes the first question is “What does this mean for me?” When something like a layoff or closure is announced, many people feel they have no control over what is going on in their lives. In this type of situation, try to remember that you aren’t the only one going through this. It doesn’t exactly make it easier, but it can change your outlook some and give you a bit of perspective.

Stay Positive

This is extremely difficult in the face of bad news. If you have trouble with positivity, remember that there are ways to create positivity in your life. Many people believe that positivity does make a difference, and if nothing else it will make a difference in how you present yourself to others. It might sound slightly corny, but remember all the good things you have and focus on the positive.

Look Forward

Many people get stuck doing what they’ve always done. People enjoy the feeling of familiarity, and if you’ve been in a position for a long time you become familiar with how everything works. Any major change could lead to a new office, new commute, new city, or even a new career. If you end up hearing that your current employer will no longer be there, it can be scary, but don’t look at it as bad news. Use this opportunity to look forward and make a new path.

There is a quote that is often repeated that says “You can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you react.” This is absolutely true in the workplace. Bad news and tough times come into everyone’s life at some point, but take it as an opportunity to be even better in the future.