A classic line of low humor is, “What do you want first — the good news or the bad news?” Assuming you have both good and bad news for a client, deliver the good news first unless the bad so far outweighs the good that you’d look ridiculous delivering the positive message first.

Naturally, you don’t want to look like a Pollyanna or a fool by touting marginally good news if, overall, the news is bad. But the recommended rule of thumb has a rationale. Good news makes clients feel good about their situation and about you. If the good news isn’t substantially outweighed by the bad, then you won’t look foolish for having delivered the good news first.

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