The Perfect Response When Someone Brings You Bad News

When someone you minister with gives you some bad news, what is your reaction?

As a leader, I am responsible for my reaction when I hear bad news. I’m usually not happy about the bad news, but I have to be very intentional about how I react to the messenger.

In my experience, there are 2 typical responses that occur when a leader hears bad news:

  1. The leader gets angry and lets the messenger know they are angry. The usual response from the messenger will be to pull away and not let you know about future problems ever again. That can be detrimental to you as a leader.
  2. The leader brushes off the news and the messenger. This communicates two things: you don’t care about the problem and/or you don’t care about the messenger. In a world where positive relationships are key, this type of response can have a negative effect on your ministry.

Neither of these 2 responses is all that helpful. In fact, these responses probably make the problem worse.

I’m learning that there is a perfect response for when someone brings you bad news:

“Thank you.”

Say, “thank you.” Sound too simple? Well, maybe it is.

However, a leader would rather know about a problem then not know about it until it gets too big or out of control. The sooner I know about a problem, the sooner we can devise a response.

Saying, “thank you,” lets the messenger know that you value them and the ministry. It communicates that you always wants to hear bad news that could have a negative effect on your ministry. You may be angry that the problem exists, but affirming the messenger is key to your leadership.

However, if you got angry with her or you simply brushed her and the problem off, then the likelihood of them sharing bad news with you in the future is slim.

Once you’ve said “thank you,” you may need some time to think of an adequate response. You may encourage the messenger to come up with some solutions. You may even be angry about it. Anger is not bad. How I behave because of my anger can be potentially bad.

No matter what your next response is, you have communicated effectively with the person you minister with and have built up that relationship by saying, “thank you.” This will pay dividends for you and your ministry in the future.

When someone brings you bad news, say “thank you.”

Question: What is your typical response when someone brings you bad news?

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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