let down easy

[let down easy] {v. phr.} To refuse or say no to (someone) in apleasant manner; to tell bad news about a refusal or disappointment ina kindly way.

The teacher had to tell George that he had failed hiscollege examinations, but she tried to let him down easy.

The bosstried to let Jim down easy when he had to tell him he was too youngfor the job.