Being the bearer of bad news in the office is always an unpleasant task, but there are some methods that are more unpleasant than others. A new survey of preferred methods of giving and getting bad news found that most of us prefer directness and candor over the cushion of small talk when discussing the breakdown of social relationships — like a breakup with your romantic partner or your employer. We just want to know where the fire is so we can get out.

In a survey of 145 participants, Brigham Young University linguistics professor Alan Manning and the University of South Alabama’s Nicole Amare got participants to rate how they would want to receive different bad news scenarios. The majority of participants valued clarity and directness over being eased into the information.

“If you’re on the giving end, yeah, absolutely, it’s probably more comfortable psychologically to pad it out — which explains why traditional advice is the way it is,” Manning said. “But this survey is framed in terms of you imagining you’re getting bad news and which version you find least objectionable. People on the receiving end would much rather get it this way.”

The survey showed how we don’t want to hear bad news. Here’s how to deliver it to your co-workers with grace and compassion for them:

1) No small talk

Good managers who make small talk before delivering bad news are usually considerate, compassionate people who think that talking about an employee’s family or weekend plans is a polite way to lift an employee’s spirits before delivering the crushing blow.

But the most compassionate move is to be direct about the bad news. Of course, you don’t want to just blurt out, “You’re fired!” for all to hear, but the researchers suggested that the buffer can be as small as Read More Here