How to Give Bad News

During the course of consulting project, you will likely have to give bad news to your client. This is never an easy task, but it's one that should be executed with care. These are some suggestions for how to be the bearer of bad news.

  • Bring it to the client -- Do not wait and allow the client to bring it to you first. This is not only a good idea, it is a contractual obligation.
  • Do not throw the problem back on the client -- Your expertise and knowledge is what the client contracted you for. Take ownership of client problems. Don't forget that you are working together.
  • Apologize for the problem -- But don't dwell on it. Your focus is to work with the client in order to find an acceptable solution.
  • Outline the alternatives -- Be prepared to show the client you have considered how to deal with the situation. Use your expertise to show the client there are always choices.
  • Present your recommendations -- Tell the client which route, in your professional opinion, is most in his interest. The client is here for your expertise and ideas.
  • Ask the client how he wants to proceed -- This allows them to make the decision on what should happen next.
  • Thank the client for his help -- Again, remember, the relationship is a partnership.
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