Breaking Bad News
You are entering a meeting. It’s an annual review with a key client. You have some good news, they now qualify for a loyalty discount and some bad news, you are closing the local office they would normally have dealt with.
How should you break the news? Research suggests that when we are up front about problems or short comings, people like us more, i.e. we bring the bad news up at the start of a meeting, rather than at the end. Mentioning it at the start is seen as refreshing honesty, keeping it to the end is seen as concealment, and we don’t like that.
The reverse is true for good news or achievements. Coming out with these at the start is seen as boastful, it’s almost as if you are trying to make an impression and get a favourable response. If the good news is left to the end, people may feel that you didn’t try to use it to manipulate them or get anything in return.
There could also be a memory effect at play here where we finish on a good note and that is the context in which our meeting is remembered.
Have a think about this, have you been in meetings where someone gave you bad news as they wrapped up, how did that come across to you?. I have had that happen and it’s not a good feeling.