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Deliver good news with bad— briefly

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in Workplace Communication

Q: At our weekly staff meetings, I relate the goings-on in my department. Usually, I have a mix of good news and bad news to report. But I’m often interrupted by the president before I can finish. Should I rush to give all the bad news upfront so that I’m assured everyone will hear it?

A: No. If you drown listeners in bad news, you risk coming across as someone who can’t solve problems. It sounds as though you may be too long-winded. Try opening with a tidy overview such as, “I’ve got three pieces of good news and two pieces of bad news. My summary will take five minutes.” Then keep each bit of news to one minute. Do this for two or three meetings. If you still get interrupted, meet privately with your boss and find out why you can’t get five minutes to speak. Let your boss know that you expect to have a reasonable time in which to make your report.

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