Life often presents us with good news/bad news scenarios. When we have to break such news to others, we tend to want to lead with the good stuff. But when Jeff Haden, contributing editor of Inc., polled his readers, most said they would rather hear bad news first.
The tendency to lead with good news is something researchers call “priming emotional-protection.” In non-research speak, this means: “This might go badly, so I'll ease into it.”
If you have bad news to share, it's natural to seek to protect yourself from how other people may react. But often the goal of delivering bad news is to alert others about a potential issue, to resolve a situation, or to change a plan or direction. So take a moment to put yourself in the other person's shoes. Don't they deserve to know -- and the sooner the better -- of any problem that they are facing?
Once people know that there is bad news, they can shift into problem-solving mode. And here is where the news deliverer can be especially helpful. What has already been done to fix the problem? For example, let’s say your company makes laptops, but one of your chip suppliers can’t deliver for a month. That's the bad news. But suppose the news deliverer now tells you that they have already alerted sales and customer service and have already reached out to alternative suppliers. That’s the good news. Now you can pitch in and offer suggestions.
Do you tend to deliver bad news before good, or the other way around? Do you think you might alter your approach? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
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