Faced with the shock of bad news our knee jerk reaction is defensiveness and distrust. “How did you let that happen?” is our immediate suspicion, personalized to the deliverer of bad news, even if not their fault, not necessarily based on facts.

This happened to me recently, both delivering bad news and in another situation, receiving it.

I hate giving clients news they do not want to hear, the unknowing result of their actions, or worse, for reasons out of their control and responsibility. I try very hard to distill the facts and once digestible, offer at least 2 solutions. I advise pros and cons of either they choose, then implement.

And, I am honest enough to say that I am guilty of grilling (okay, strongly questioning, well..grilling) the deliverer. Crackle crackle. My true annoyance belies my astonishment that they let this happen even with procedures and protocols, as just happened this weekend.

Then there is a middle ground: the Twitter discussion I participate in from time to time; recently the questions to the group have been along the lines of “how have you made a really bad situation X (describe) better by doing Y (describe)? I get why they are using in this format to elicit discussion. But I am not one to reveal these situations to Twitter strangers to be possibly misquoted or mistweeted out of context. So I tend to hold back.

  • Good news: we like to blast it out but have to refrain from appearing self-serving. LinkedIn is one excellent podium for announcing that news. Beware doing too much and think about perceptions others my have.
  • Bad news: well hardly anyone talks about it, unless in a closed trusted circle. Especially in a social media forum such as LinkedIn.
  • Middle news: as the Twitter group seeks to draw forth, it could be educationally valuable, yes, perhaps, but this needs to be metered properly, in the right environment.

As with everything it comes down to balance. Life and business have their roller coaster rides. Peaks and valleys. Plateaus sometimes. Not always black or white, but we manage our daily lives with gradations within shades of gray.

In these difficult situations, clients appreciate participatory problem management, or they may display anger. In 15 years, I am very pleased to say way more have stayed than the handful who have left. And once in a while they return after departing a more negative experience with a competitor. Time can temper painful memories.

Tom Bodett always leaves the light on for you.

I always leave the door open. since it swings two ways.

Yes this is not quite a LinkedIn nugget, but I felt right to share. 

Marc W. Halpert

LinkedIn personal coach, group trainer, marketing strategist and overall evangelist, having a great time pursuing my passion of connecting professionals so they can collaborate better!

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