Many of you deal with people: family, friends, clients, and it is always a hard thing to do when you have a family member, a friend, or a client who has received bad news or more than that you have to share bad news with them. It can be emotional, it can be physical, it can be financial, or something else. With the financial it can be the possibility of running out of money, having no money to do what you, receiving an insurance, facing a divorce, widowhood, or the loss of a job.
You may have your process to share bad news with others, but Dr. Walter Baile and a group of his oncology colleagues developed the SPIKES protocol, and its usefulness can be used in many situations, both personal and professional. SPIKES is an acronym: SETTING, PERCEPTION, INVITE, KNOWLEDGE, EMOTIONS, and SUMMARIZE.
SETTING is important in choosing an appropriate atmosphere: quiet and private without mobile interruptions. Everyone involved should be aware that interruptions should not occur. Always have the TISSUES on hand. Include other family members who need to be included.
PERCEPTION: Know the client’s perception before you begin. Use open-ended questions to make sure you understand that they understand the situation. This is especially important in any financial situation. Make sure everyone understands what the discussion reallyy means.
INVITE the participants to indicate how much detail about the situation they are comfortable with. This is especially important with money and the discussion may have to occur in several separate gatherings . Let them set the tone so that they do not become overwhelmed.
EMOTIONS: It is quite possible that emotions will arise. Too much bad news can even lead to a state of temporary shock and inability to proceed. TISSUES! Crying is ok for them and you…
SUMMARIZE: A summary before ending is important so that you know that there is an understanding of the situation. Your communication whatever the situation takes skill and compassion and experience. Be careful with exhausted phrases like “I am sorry for your loss.” Try to gain a personal perspective in order tor relate to the situation and the person. Using a tool like SPIKES will help you and those you are trying to help no matter who they are. YOU ARE STRONG and AWEsome and helping others helps make them strong, too!