When bad news comes I prefer it to come early enough that I can help make a difference. This means getting the news when others that are close to the issue have that feeling that things are going wrong, or maybe they have received a complaint and feel the need to share it, but something is holding them back. These are the moments when there is a chance to turn something bad into something good. Here are three keys to being approachable with bad news:
- First reactions cannot be defensive: Those who take a defensive stance in regards to their initial reaction are actually creating a death spiral for themselves and their team. Others stop approaching them with issues and then the news gets worse, and the amount of bad things happening increases exponentially. Sadly, if they do not realize they are the problem they will continue to defend themselves and their team all the way to the bottom. The right way: Invite feedback and be appreciative for it; focus on solving the problem first with only the customer/issue in mind; only then go back and find the underlining cause of the issue and ensure it becomes a learning experience that is improved upon.
- The trust others have in you: Trust comes from action. Others will not approach you if they do not trust you to do something about the issue. To gain the trust we must simply have a history of helping others, which means stating what we are going to do, doing it, and always caring enough to follow through.
- Your relationships: It is our responsibility to proactively create and maintain strong relationships with those we serve. When a strong relationship exists we are approachable because we are seen as a trusted source that can be confided in, and who will help when there is a need.