This week we focus on “the good news and the bad news.”  Which would YOU rather hear first?

Let’s do this!

Which do you want to hear first?
The GOOD news or the BAD news?

Most people want to get the bad news out of the way. According to academic research, 78% of us prefer to hear the bad news first.

Unsplash @jontyson

Here’s the more interesting question (I think!):
Which SHOULD we hear first?
The answer is “it depends.”  (Isn’t it always?)  According to the same researchers, it depends on what you want to achieve:
  • If you want to improve your mood, then go for the BAD news first.
  • If you want to be motivated to make positive change based on the news, then go for the GOOD news first.  
In other words, the news you hear LAST will have a more significant effect.

Bad news first has the emotional benefit of less worry.  However, it also results in us being less motivated to change our behaviour.  This might be an issue, for example, in a job performance review, when we are hearing the “bad news” regarding something we need to work on!

Speaking of Performance reviews…
Have you heard of the “Poop Sandwich”?

BAD NEWS: The Poop Sandwich

I talked about “the poop sandwich” in podcast episode #31: HOW TO GIVE NEGATIVE FEEDBACK

Unsplash | @picoftasty.png

Have you heard of the poop sandwich? It’s good news, bad news, good news.  Here are two examples:

Everyone around here really likes you so much. You’re a great team player. Unfortunately, we’re gonna have to put you on probation due to your lack of productivity. But don’t forget, everyone here loves you.

“Clearly you’re super smart. But you’re going to have to focus more on hitting the numbers that we expect. I’m sure you can do it, since you’re so ambitious.”

If you’re delivering feedback: This poop sandwich approach to delivering feedback has become a cliché, and not a good one. People expect it and they make fun of it. So try to avoid it if you’re delivering feedback.

If you’re receiving feedback: Don’t let the positive bread on the outside mask the poop on the inside.  If you really want to improve your performance, seek to motivate yourself to “overcome the poop.”  ?

On to the GOOD news…

GOOD NEWS: Flattery & Compliments

I have a quick story.  A few years ago when I was showing my paintings at an art show, a lovely real estate agent who sponsored the show came in to my booth.  I had seen photos of her, but I hadn’t met her in person.  She is STUNNING.  Without even thinking, I said, “Hi Cheryl. I’m Andrea.  I just want to say two things.  First, thank you for sponsoring our show.  And second, you are gorgeous!  Even more beautiful than the photos I have seen of you on real estate signs!” 

Cheryl looked at me, first with a surprised look, then a big smile.  Then she pointed to one of my paintings and said, “I would like to buy one of your paintings.  This one!”


I’ve thought a lot about this interaction.  First of all, my flattery was 100% sincere.  I meant what I said and I was not at all conscious of the effects of my compliment.

Unsplash | @lidyanada

But research shows that receiving a compliment really does impact behaviour. According to researchreceiving a compliment will produce unconscious, positive feelings that will predispose you to do something nice for the complimenter.  Not surprising, right?

Here is something that might surprise you.  Have you ever been in a store and received an insincere compliment from a salesperson? According to a paper in the Journal of Marketing Research, your positive implicit attitude toward the flatterer will have more influential consequences than your negative explicit attitude regarding their insincerity. 

Our brains are wired to believe the compliments we receive, and we act accordingly.

That’s it for this week. I hope you learned a thing or two about communicating good news and bad news!

Unsplash | @elijahsad

I hope you enjoyed last week’s ?podcast focused on our LISTENING skills, with author, consultant, and legal veteran Norman Bacal.

Norman Bacal

The most common feedback I’ve heard from this episode is how listeners are now more conscious of their tendency to interrupt(I’m so thrilled to hear listeners are putting these learnings into action!)  Good communicators are great listeners, right?  And great listeners don’t interrupt. ?

Next week – more sage advice from Norm Bacal, this time on “Telling Your Story,” including:

  • fiction and non-fiction writing
  • the power of metaphors
  • why you need to memorize your personal 60 second infomercial!

If you’re enjoying these free weekly emails with tips on how to improve your communication skills, I hope you will spread the news ? and encourage your friends to sign-up too! Thank you!

As always, I love to hear what you think (flattery & otherwise!) about this newsletter and anything else you hear or read on Talk About Talk.  Please connect with us on social media, join the private facebook group, or email me anytime.

Have a great week! 

Talk soon,

Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
Chief Talker & Communication Coach

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