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How to give bad news from a place of empathy?

Circling or applying the "sandwich" technique where something positive is said, in the middle of something negative, only confuses the person

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  • 31/07/2020
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How to give bad news from a place of empathy?
How to give bad news from a place of empathy? (Photo: Pexels)

Circling or applying the "sandwich" technique where something positive is said, in the middle of something negative, only confuses the person to whom we will give the news.

How do you deliver bad news to another person?

Have you been in a situation where you must deliver the news of somebody's death or end a relationship? Even firing someone or warning them about an illness is news that sometimes we have to give, how to do it?

In the first place, we must avoid the phrase "we have to speak" because it only generates anguish in the other person, it makes them worry in advance. They begin asking themselves questions about what they will hear. There is nothing empathetic in this demeanor psychologist Miguel Ángel Rando, clinical coordinator of the Psychological Care Service (SAP) of the University of Malaga, said to El Pais.

Something to consider; although we take care of all the details, we cannot avoid the pain that the news will give. However, we can lessen the impact, said Francisca Ruiz, psychologist and founder of the Group for Psychological Intervention in Crises and Emergencies (Gipce).

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Keys to giving bad news

Surely you are wondering why we talk about this in a genre section because communication and caring for the other's emotions are characteristics of feminism. Therefore, we have decided to share this information.

There is no exact formula, and everything will depend on each circumstance. Furthermore, emotional bonding also influences this situation. However, you can consider the following:

1. Choose the place where you will deliver the news.

We must find a space where there are no stimulations around, where communication can generate with ease. When you are going to fire someone, it is best to find a private space. As for a couple, it's recommended to look for an intimate place.

2. Don't run around the bush.

Since something hurtful will be said, it's recommended to prepare the person. Psychologist Francisca Ruiz recommends telling a summary of the events that have led to the point where you are. It is suggested to have a neutral language that does not have connotations that increase suffering. "It is not necessary to reveal every detail," the expert recommends.

If the explanation is not well-argued, it may generate a feeling of guilt in the other person. A double punishment: the bad news and feel responsible for it.

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3. Avoid the technical call of "the sandwich."

To start with something positive, give the bad news and end with good news, says Mónica Pereira, an expert psychologist in emergencies at Haztua Positive Psychology: "This minimizes the feelings of the other person. It only serves to reassure those who have something to say, not the person receiving," the expert explains.

4. Prepare for the answer.

You will not be able to control the other person's reaction, and the most important thing is empathy. Please don't limit the other person's feelings; let them express themselves. If there is crying, do not say, "stop crying, everything will be fine. " Pereira tells us that silence and waiting are essential, let the other person react according to their rhythms. "We react as we can, not as we want."

 

(Diana Juárez)

With information from El País

Traducción: Valentina K. Yanes