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#247: Delivering Bad News

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2010
It is never pleasant to deliver bad news to your client. So what can you do?

Remember that the very nature of bad news usually means you, as a consultant, have learned something valuable. Perhaps you found out what went wrong or have unfortunately discovered that an expected remedy was not, in fact, really the solution you were looking for. You might finally have discovered the root cause of the problem, an unexpected shortfall, unforeseen rejects, a lack of sales, etc. Regardless of the negative impact, it usually represents a valuable learning or discovery.

Instead of starting with, "I have some bad news. We have a problem," try to accentuate the positive impact of the discovery. "I am glad to report we have finally identified the root cause of problem. My team plans to have 3 -5 specific recommendations to remedy the problem by the end of the week."

Tip: When identifying a problem to your client, it is critical to either providing (a) a plan for rectifying the problem, or (b) a specific timeframe for delivering a plan for remedy.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  communication  values 

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Patrick Lefler says...
Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Really like your blog here on the IMC site. By coincidence (and our posts were published within minutes of each other), I just wrote a piece on communications and how it is affected by mental accounting and loss aversion. Our topics intercept tangentially when talking about how to deliver good, bad and mixed news.

You can view it here:

Would very much like to get your feedback on my 'theory' versus your 'common sense' approach.


Pat Lefler
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