Fraser Scott

Bad news early is good news... right?

“So, there’s good news and bad news.”

An opening line that will send a chill down most folks spines, no matter what the topic.

Many situations in life involve a double-edged sword that carries good news and bad news, prompting the popular question...

"Do you want the good news or the bad news first?"

Does News Order Matter?

Personally, I would prefer to hear the bad news first, I've adopted the mindset of 'it's good to be able to get it out of the way and move on.' That preference puts me in the same boat as 78% of people in a study by Angela M. Legg etl 2013 where individuals preferred to hear the bad news first believing that the good news would outweigh the bad, meaning they would finish on a high note.

The order of the news doesn't really matter as its more dependent on the context of the information really. We tend to let our feelings get involved before we deliver the news to the receiver, we imagine what the receiver would want to hear first, but give them the option anyway and put them in the "Hot Seat".

The Good the Bad and the Ugly news?

The difficulty of delivering bad news has inspired extensive popular media articles that prescribe 'best' practices for giving bad news, but these prescriptions remain option based rather than a proven method of delivering news and the context behind it.

Although people like to hear good news; it doesn’t seem to have the same impact as bad news. When people hear the bad news they seem to get hung up on it and are, therefore, not receptive to the good news that follows, contradicting the previous method of good news outweighing the bad.

I’ve found managers, in particular, will get stuck trying to solve the problem presented in the bad news and will pay little attention to the positives presented later. This is because managers are typically problem solvers, especially senior managers. They probably got to the position of senior manager because they could solve problems.

It's an excellent trait to have to be a problem solver especially when dealing with issues that need to be dealt with quickly, but you can always use the good news to your advantage. By using the good news in a way of softening the blow of the bad, you can allow extra time in order to process the bad and come up with a plan of action.

We'd all prefer to hear good news rather than bad new's it's just human nature. Fundamentally, it all falls down to the type of news as to how it's delivered and how we deal with what's been said.

How do you prefer to give/receive news? Good or bad news first?

No blog would be complete without an example from one of our many adventures within Langley Foxall.

A customer of ours has a very popular website, he has monster traffic on a weekend, it's imperative for his business that it runs smoothly. In today's world, normal people (not YouTube) only get one shot at a customer visiting their site, if the experience is poor they're not coming back. In this example, his server inexplicably stopped working.

...Bad New's is...

"As you know, we monitor your site 24/7, we've received an email and your server has, for want of a better term, completely melted and your site is down, unfortunately you don't have an SLA with us to get this fixed."

...Good news is that...

"We're going to fix this anyway because, well, we like you and we know this site is important to you, unfortunately, I'm out of town but I'll have a developer on it within 30 minutes"

Crisis was averted but it does highlight the need for an SLA if you've got a business critical product, SLA's are like travel insurance, you don't want to pay for it and hope things will be fine, but break your leg in America and you're washing pots and pans in the local diner for the next 50 years to pay off your bill.

Now the good news is that this is the end of my spiel, the bad news is that I'm going to be writing another one soon.