Published on November 7, 2013 at 6:58 AM
"If you're a manager, a bad news sandwich can make people feel good, but it might not help them improve their behavior," she added. The bad news sandwich may make the recipient less defensive, but the intended message may get lost and leave the receiver confused, she added. This study suggests that news-recipients would benefit from a good-then-bad news order when the bad news is useful to them.
"It's so complicated. It's important to fit the delivery to the outcome goal," Legg explained. "If you're a physician delivering a diagnosis and prognosis that are severe, where there is nothing the patient can do, tell them the bad news first and use positive information to help them accept it. If there are things a patient can do, give them the bad news last and tell them what they can do to get better."
The study has important implications for communication in many domains, the researchers said.
"Doctors must give good and bad health news to patients, teachers must give good and bad academic news to students, and romantic partners may at times give good and bad relationship news to each other," they wrote. "Our findings suggest that the doctors, teachers and partners in these examples might do a poor job of giving good and bad news because they forget for a moment how they want to hear the news when they are the patients, students, and spouses, respectively. News-givers attempt to delay the unpleasant experience of giving bad news by leading with good news while recipients grow anxious knowing that the bad news is yet to come. This tension can erode communication and result in poor outcomes for both news-recipients and news-givers."
Source: University of California - Riverside