If you have to deliver bad news, follow this advice shared with my sister long ago: create a visual with the undesirable message and direct your participants’ attention to it as you present. The goal is to have their memory of the unpleasantness associated with something other than you!

The visual doesn’t have to be fancy or formal: it can be budget figures written on a whiteboard, a new structure drawn out on a flip chart or a PowerPoint slide that outlines the changes – anything that focuses the attention “over there” instead of on you personally. It’s a small thing but over time you don’t want the image of your face popping into your team’s head when remembering bad news.

Separate the message from you personally by diverting their attention to “there.”

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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