People-Skills: Confuse Before Bad News?

When you must deliver bad news, do you first confuse? Do you mislabel your dance around the issue as great people-skills and empathy.

If you confuse before bad news, you deliver double pain.

People-Skills: Confuse Before Bad News? Image by:TallChris

I received the following letter from my health insurance company with instructions to call customer service with any questions:

Our records show that you are currently covered under of our New Jersey Individual Plans.  This letter is to provide notice that pursuant to N.J.A.C. 11:20-18.6, we are making a change to, therefore not renewing, the current Termination of the Policy/Contract-Renewal Privilege provision in your Policy/Contract.

Termination? Not renewing? I read the paragraph twice and still wondered, “What the hell is this?”

Do you know? If you are a lawyer, you will probably get it right. For the rest of us it just sounds like confusing bad news. I called customer service as instructed.  Simply put:

The grace period on the policy has changed.

The grace … the grace period! That’s all?  You confuse me and scare me and make me wait in a telephone queue instead of stating it clearly in the letter! Arggh!!

People-Skills Points:

  1. Clarity is a gift you give to your employees and your customers. Think of them not you.
  2. Clarity is honest. It doesn’t have to be blunt and insensitive.
  3. Clarity builds trust which eases future communication.
  4. Clarity takes effort. Are your employees and customers worth it?

What else drives people to be unclear in their communication to employees and customers?

©2011 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish, please email Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, delivers customer service and teamwork training and improves your company’s customer loyalty quotient. Preview and purchase her unique DVD Customer Service USA – Regional Differences That Matter.

5 Responses to “People-Skills: Confuse Before Bad News?”

  1. Stacy Kroeker says:

    I love this post! So true. And do you know what? I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of it as well…the “Do you mislabel your dance around the issue as great people-skills and empathy?” question hit a direct mark for sure. Thanks for pointing out another vital key to good communication, as well as an oportunity for sharpening my skills!

  2. Jim Higgins says:

    This is what you get for not having me as your agent!…lol

    Hope you are well.


  3. AMEN Kate. I’m sure all of us have experienced this at one time or another. What are they thinking? This should be posted on the wall of every company. Well said Kate. Best, Frank

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Frank, It was one of those moments when my stress was actually matched by my disbelief of the absurdity of sending such a letter. Glad we could share this “what were they thinking” moment!

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