Communication: Delivering Bad News

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    Ronan Healy

    Continuing our Learning to Test Series, this discussion will look at communication skills. Being a software tester can mean you could interact with a few people or a lot of people, it depends on your position.

    Communicating with others can involve delivering bad news. That may involve telling clients everything that they thought possible might not be possible, to dealing with members within you own team or even developers.

    We might have some experience in delivering bad news outside of the workplace but how does that work within the workplace. Do you find it easy?

    Do you find it something that is easy to do?


    I would not necessarily say bad news but factual news.

    In my role I give an overview of the state of the product/feature. This may not always be what the stakeholders want to hear but all I can do is say it how it is. I always try to stay professional and have a positive but realistic outlook in general.

    Actually personally I found it harder to deliver bad news in my social life over my work life so far!

    Does anyone have any tips on delivering bad news?

    I have seen steps it takes someone to adopt change from anger, resistance, frustration, acceptance to adopting but what about delivering and accepting bad news? Does this follow the same principles?


    Fiona Charles did a very popular webinar on this last year for EuroSTAR. The webinar is available on-demand here with accompanying slides:


    I would not necessarily say bad news but factual news.

    Agreed, calling it factual news rather than bad news makes it a bit easier to disclose. And most of the times, the developer has a fair idea of the quality of the product that they have delivered. So, I believe they half expect such news from testers.

    If the defect is to be communicated within the team, I prefer to first discuss it personally and then log it officially. That makes things easier.


    Depending if it is bad news or BAD news. I remember a communication/presentation class I attended some time ago about delivering BAD news. It was described  like an U-shaped process where the recipient of the news dropped down in the U, feeling shock and denial and perhaps anger. By giving the person time to take in the information first, then building up where we go from here makes acceptance of the bad news easier.

    Aleksandra Kornecka

    yeah, there are bad news about a project, bad news about loosing the job, bad news about stopping the project, or about stinking socks in the office.. Every situation needs cut-off special reaction 🙂 But always – affirming people well-being

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