Leadership Condolences: Context Matters! | #PeopleSkills

As leaders, others will expect you to offer leadership condolences. Are you ready? Do you know how? How you console others varies by situation. Context, setting, and relationship matter. Here’s a guide for leadership condolences.



Leadership Condolences: Image is black background w/ beaming light and pink aura.

Leadership Condolences: Context Matters! Image by Lee via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Image by Lee via Flickr Creative Commons License.


Leadership Condolences: How to Guide

No matter what your intentions, people will interpret your words based on what they hear and how it makes them feel. When leaders read this, they often wonder how will I know how they will feel? Some of these leaders go by how they themselves would feel and what they would want to hear. Sometimes this can be risky. Use these guidelines to choose the best approach to offering your leadership condolences.

  • Relationship is key. If those you are consoling are long time close friends of yours, you can go with your gut. If not, focus your remarks on respect, honor, value, and hope.

      “I offer you my deepest condolences on your loss. We grieve with you and your family. S/he dedicated their life to a great purpose with passion and courage. We will never forget him/her. Our respect for them will never end. We will forever honor their sacrifice. As you go forward each day, may the value they contributed transform your daily struggles into the hope of each new day.


  • Context Matters. When are you offering these condolences? During a crisis before the end is known? Or after a tragedy? During a crisis, reassure with hope and confidence. After a tragedy, console with warmth, empathy, and encouragement as in the above example.


Avoid statements that others could see as insensitive or blaming. Do not say …

  • Life’s a bummer and then you die.

  • Well, s/he knew what they were facing.

  • It’s over. There’s nothing you can do now so buck up.


Above all remember that context and relationship matter. One military leader consoling another is quite different than a military leader consoling civilian survivors. Two very close friends is a different context than two professional colleagues.



What consoling words are you not sure of? Ask me here.


From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

©2017 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.



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