9 Tips for Softening Bad News to a Client

03/26/2015 07:37 am ET | Updated May 26, 2015

Everything doesn't always go according to plan. Which means that unfortunately, you sometimes have to give a customer or client badnews. To help you out, we polled 9 entrepreneurs on their best tips for softening this blow.

A. Offer a Positive Initiative


Stuff happens, as they say. It's how you deal with it that speaks volumes. So if you have bad news to break, first have a positive attitude and second have a plan. Something a simple as "unfortunately X happened, but we remain optimistic that Y will occur because we're doing Z." This will go a long way in relieving them of their worries while keeping you positive and focused on a solution. - Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

A. Be Authentic and Understand Their Position


Be authentic and sympathetic. If the customer sees you as thinking "oh, it's bad to be in your shoes," they are more likely to feel as though they're alone. However, saying that "we will get through this together" inspires camaraderie and loyalty. If you all do get through it, the memory of overcoming adversity will be a special one. - Kenny Nguyen,Big Fish Presentations

A. Tell Them You're Upset


Start off by telling your client that you are upset or bummed out. Immediately this puts you on the same side as your client, who will inevitably also be upset by the bad news. Next, let them know that you have some ideas to help overcome this hiccup but want to know if they have any great ideas as well. Collaborating for a team solution will help further bond you and your client. - Kim Kaupe, ZinePak

A. Make Sure They Know You Care


Bad things happen in any client relationship. But it's important to let them know that you are taking it just as seriously as they are, and that you care about what happened. Empathy can go a long way towards mending fences when things go wrong. - Sathvik Tantry, FormSwift

A. Be Frank About It


People are sophisticated enough to see through a lot of your attempts to soften bad news. Just be forthcoming with it and tell them -- not with a mean or indifferent attitude, but with honesty. They'll appreciate that you're leveling with them, and they might be more willing to work with you on finding a solution to the problem than if you'd tried to sugarcoat it. - Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

A. Frame It With a New Solution


Never start with, "We can't do this." Instead, start with, "This is what we're doing, and this is why it's a better alternative to the one we had originally outlined." Clients want solutions, not problems. - Benish Shah, Before the Label

A. Speak in the Way They'll Receive It Best


We each lean in the direction of a certain communication style. Research personality and communication styles such as DISC and find ways to implement that knowledge into interactions. Learn what you can and determine what your customer or client's communication style is. Then speak using the language that they're most comfortable with for bad news. - Erik Reagan, Focus Lab, LLC

A. Be Empathetic


Empathy is key. We've all received bad news and we want to know that the person delivering the bad news understands our pain and what we're experiencing. Be straight forward, tactful and don't forget that you have been or will be in their shoes and communicate accordingly. - Angela Harless, AcrobatAnt

A. Don't Soften It


Be straightforward and honest in delivering bad news and then move on. - Matthew Moisan, Moisan Legal, P.C.

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.