Delivering bad news, setting expectations, and remembering that perception is not always reality.
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Issue #9

Brutal Honesty

A few weeks ago I saw this quote from the Daily Zen Twitter account and immediately had to favorite it. It reads: "Sometimes the only way to be honest is through direct confrontation."

I read this after signing off from a meeting with a project client where I had to deliver some bad news about a deadline—which had resulted in them breaking down in tears. Although I felt bad, the reaction reinforced how important this news was to deliver sooner rather than later. The delay had been building and discussed for some time, but largely ignored as reality until project data was presented clearly and concretely—showing exactly how much work was left, and the time needed.

Setting Expectations
In the midst of a rough project of mine a few years ago, a good friend of mine told me (through my stress and tears about my abilities as a project manager): "Perception is not reality." I think about this a lot now.

It's a good reminder when I'm feeling down, but also applies to the client-side: our clients might have a different understanding of the information we give them if we neglect to set appropriate expectations. This article about managing expectations is one of the best I've read—project managers are above all expectations managers. We can't hope or hint our ways to project success: instead, we have to communicate clearly and have to consider the long-term effects of every project move.

More Reading

Self-honesty and untangling self-deception
This article about the difficulty of self-honesty is fascinating, and gives more than a bit of insight into some of our instinctive habits when things are difficult to look at truthfully—something I'm sure we've all felt when delivering honest and tough news to clients (or ourselves!).

Other Links

My friend Holly Davis just launched Make Good, a bi-weekly newsletter for people who care about exceptional software delivery. Sign up here!
Cheers to the weekend! 🎉
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Copyright © 2017 Natalie Semczuk, All rights reserved.

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