Today.com screenshot
NBC's "Today" recently featured BYU linguistics professor Alan Manning's research on how to deliver bad news about a relationship.

In a segment on NBC's "Today" this week, co-host Hoda Kotb had a word of advice about breaking up.

“No matter how you approach it, breaking up is really hard, but researchers from Brigham Young University found the best way to do it,” said Kotb. “They say get right to the point. Be direct. Don’t use any build up.”

BYU linguistics professor Alan Manning and University of South Alabama’s Nicole Amare conducted the study, reported BYU News. According to the article, the professors found that when it comes to hearing bad news, people generally prefer a truthful and quick delivery to a slow buildup.

“An immediate ‘I’m breaking up with you’ might be too direct,” Manning told BYU News. “But all you need is a ‘we need to talk’ buffer — just a couple of seconds for the other person to process that bad news is coming.”

The study evaluated responses of 145 participants who received “a range of bad-news scenarios, and with each scenario, they were given two potential deliveries,” the article stated. “For each received message, they ranked how clear, considerate, direct, efficient, honest, specific and reasonable they perceived it to be. They also ranked which of those characteristics they valued most. Participants, for the most part, valued clarity and directness over other characteristics.”

So when considering sparing another’s feelings, try to avoid prolonging the inevitable, Manning told BYU News.

“If you’re on the giving end, yeah, absolutely, it’s probably more comfortable psychologically to pad it out — which explains why traditional advice is the way it is,” he said. “But this survey is framed in terms of you imagining you’re getting bad news and which version you find least objectionable. People on the receiving end would much rather get it this way.”