No one likes giving bad news, and certainly no one enjoys receiving bad news. There is a gentle art to delivering it, however. For starters, bad news should always be delivered in person. It is a best practice to call the person receiving bad news into your office for a private meeting. A phone call for receiving bad news is not encouraged, but would work as a worst case scenario, in the event that the person cannot make it into a private meeting within a convenient period of time. Bad news should never be texted or emailed to someone else; this is informal and unprofessional.
If you are the one delivering the bad news, it is important to get to the point right away, and do not sugarcoat the information being received. It is also important to have empathy when delivering bad news, as many people do not take bad news very well. If you can, offer help to the person who is receiving bad news. For instance, you can say something like, “We have to let you go because are downsizing within the program, but we want to help you find another position within the district or the area.” Offer resources for the other party to take advantage of in order to aid in their current unfortunate situation, if you can.
If you are the one receiving the bad news, it is important to stay calm. Take time to process and really think about the news you are receiving. You may also take time during the private meeting to ask if there are any alternatives to the situation, or any resources you can take advantage of to help your situation. Make sure you do not burn bridges; you never know if or when you may be working with this same person or program again!