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7 Ways to Break the Bad News Without a Huge Blow Out

Having to tell someone bad news is never easy. But here are 7 ways you can deliver the bad news without making a scene.

how to break bad news

An unplanned pregnancy. A friend passing away. Proof of a cheating spouse. The death of a beloved pet… There’s no easy way to break the bad news to someone close to you.

Though not easily, there are ways to deliver bad news gracefully, avoiding having a huge, drama filled, real-housewives type of fight breakout. I mean, just think about how many times doctors have had to deliver bad news, and somehow they manage to keep their composure!

If you find yourself in need of moral support because you have some bad news to deliver to someone close to you, look no further. Your support is here!

How to break it gently

When you’re about to have a panic attack just thinking of how to deliver bad news without causing a scene, here are some ways.

#1 Deliver in a public setting. Just like doctors are always telling their patients and the families of their patients bad news, there is a common theme to all doctors everywhere who deliver bad news. They are always in a public place: the hospital!

I’m not saying you need to tell someone bad news in a hospital, but what I am suggesting is that you deliver the negative information in a public setting. Maybe take them out to dinner and then after carrying on a conversation for a while, ease into it. They’re less likely to make a scene for fear of drawing too much untoward attention to themselves.

#2 Deliver with a nice gesture. What goes up must come down. One way you can deliver bad news is with a nice gesture. Think about how many men aren’t romantic 363 days a year, but use holidays like Valentine’s Day and Christmas to make up for it. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love chocolate, amazing jewelry, fancy dinners, incredible gifts, and having crazy sex.

With that said, one way to break bad news is by buttering them up first with something sweet, or romantic, and then after they have been spoiled, letting them hear the bad news. No matter how much they want to be mad at you, they more than likely won’t be as mad as they could be, because you just spoiled them! It would be very inconsiderate, rude, and selfish of them if they full-on rage at you, especially after you did something nice.

#3 Deliver a negative using a negative. Another way you can let someone hear something their good ears probably don’t want to is by using an already negative situation. If you’re already currently processing a bad situation, then use the current one to segue into the one you need to tell them.

For instance, you can start talking about how your car got wrecked the other night. After this conversation, you can skip on to casually mentioning that you have some bad news about that scumbag your friend is dating. Chances are, your friend will keep the story of your wrecked car in mind, and he or she will have a point of comparison for how much worse things can be.

#4 Deliver by downplaying. If you’ve ever had a guy tell you something you didn’t want to hear, and he delivered the news so nonchalantly, props to him! I know you may not understand, but there is somewhat of an art to this.

By having a casual conversation, as easy as when you two talk about what you want to eat for dinner or what the weather is, it makes the environment much more relaxed than it would be if he started the conversation with “we need to talk.” No four words in the English language are scarier. So unless you want the person you have to tell the bad news to turning into a complete crazy person, don’t use that phrase.

#5 Deliver indirectly. This one is for anyone who really just cannot stand confrontation and doesn’t want to deal with it. Think about how lame it is when a guy breaks up with you over text. Yeah, it’s lame, but it’s straightforward. If you have some bad news to tell someone, and don’t want to deal with it in person, then write it down. Send them a text, or email, or if you want to get really old-school, write them a letter in the mail.

If you must use this approach, just make sure you proofread what you’ve written. And make sure that, if for some reason they were to ever post your letter on social media or if it were to get lost somewhere, that you wouldn’t want to crawl under a rock for the rest of your life out of shame and embarrassment. And just remember that if you write it down, they will always have it in print. Verbal communication is much safer in that regard!

#6 Deliver en route. If you have some bad news to tell someone, one way to avoid having to deal with a fight where they end up ignoring you for a long period of time is by telling them the bad news during a time when you know you two will be with each other for a long stretch of time.

A perfect example is a road trip. If you are stuck in the car with each other, eventually you will have to start talking to each other. Sure, they may rant about the news you’ve just delivered, but at least there’s less of a chance they’ll suddenly just walk out on you.

#7 Deliver drunkenly. We can all relate to those moments in our lives when we’ve told someone something while drunk, and then depending on if we wanted them to actually know what we told them, we either say something the next day like “I did tell you!” when they don’t remember you telling them or we say “I was drunk and didn’t mean it.”

With the right amount of alcohol, people can become pretty calm and relaxed. You can also use that to your advantage by springing some bad news while your friend is downing his third pint at happy hour. Who knows, the blow of the bad news might not hit so hard when you’ve got alcohol on your side to soften the blow.

It doesn’t matter if you have to tell someone about a death, or that they are being cheated on, or even something much “easier” like letting them know that the blind date you wanted to set them up on cancelled at the last minute. It’s still going to be a challenge, and it’s still going to hurt them, and let them down, in some capacity.

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Charley Reid
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