3 Ways To Deliver Tough Messages: A Video

Communicating the hard stuff leaves even the best leaders stressed and queasy. You care deeply about the human beings you support. You don’t mean to play games, but a sprinkle of sugar-coating, with a dollop of “they don’t really need to know this ” diminishes trust and undermines your leadership.

When we’re not honest and direct, the message is lost, and the fill-in-the blank games begin. And yet, so many leaders chose to use spin, or speak with strategic ambiguity. Or, they only share part of the story because they believe the truth will be misused.

In this edgy video, I share 3 Ways to Deliver Tough Messages Effectively. (click on link to view)

It’s not easy, and I explore several sides of this challenge.

3 Ways to Deliver Tough Messages

  1. Create genuine connections
  2. Focus on the good guys
  3. Tell the truth

This video is controversial. Help me stir the pot. What do you agree with, what concerns you? What tips do you have for delivering tough messages effectively? Let’s continue the conversation together.

Thank you to Tom and Joy Guthrie of Vizwerx for their amazing support in creating of this video.

*How to Deliver Tough Messages. A Let’s Grow Leaders Film.

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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.


  1. Treat people with respect and the magic will follow. Brilliant! Bottom line for me, is that any message, hard or soft can be delivered to make a connection or cut someone down. Loved the video, Karin!

  2. What a terrific way to share your content, Karin! The video was so genuine and resonated with me about telling the truth. It can sometimes be difficult to be honest, but it is best in the long run. When we are clear, open and direct we are communicating as a leader. Thanks! Job well done!

    • Terri, Thanks so much. I appreciate your comments very much. This was my first attempt at this. I was delighted to have the support of Joy and Tom Guthrie in pulling it together.

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  4. I completely agree with you Karin! Thank you for “stirring the pot”!!! I get told about once a week that I stir the pot 🙂 …when you believe so deeply in something and want the best for the team, you have to speak up at times and “stir the pot” or I prefer (since sometimes the other phrase has a negative connotation) “be a catalyst for change”! Happy weekend!

  5. Hi Karin…it’s been a busy week and I’m only just now able to review this great video….LOVE this point: treat your folks with respect and the magic happens! I totally agree…people are smarter than we sometimes give them credit. Being honest and yet empathetic always works…especially if “the message” is a negative one. I haven’t been in a situation yet where direct honesty is not appreciated by all. The difference is in the way that “so called honest message” is delivered to the troops.

    On another note, I love seeing you in this role, Karin! You did an outstanding job of coming across genuine and yet tough…a very unique (and effective) combination!

    • LaRae, Thanks so much. I can tell you are a truth teller, and appreciate that about you so much. Thanks also for the feedback on my first video attempt. I’m looking forward to playing a bit with the medium to see what works best.

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