Dear Meeting Guru,

I need to present both a "high high" and a "low low" in the same meeting (award an achievement and deliver some bad news). I don't want to pump the participants up with a celebration of achievement and then end with bad news. Everyone would depart with a bad taste in their mouth. However, I don't want to give the bad news first, because it leaves everyone feeling deflated, and they will have a tough time enjoying the celebration in the same manner. I need a creative idea to handle this situation!


Blessed Meeter,

Is it at all possible to schedule two separate meetings? That would prevent either agenda item from unduly influencing your team's mood. If it's not possible to split the meeting, I recommend that you deliver the bad news first. People may be a little deflated when it comes to celebrating the achievement, but at least they're not leaving the meeting with a sense of impending doom and gloom. As the meeting leader, you're responsible for the group's morale. If ending the meeting on a high note will help keep morale up, that's how you should structure your agenda.

Another way to mitigate the effects of an emotional roller-coaster is to warn participants beforehand. Prepare the agenda a few days in advance and e-mail it to participants. That way, they'll anticipate both the bad and good news. If you need to keep participants in the dark about the topics up for discussion, simply allude to the fact that there will be a piece of bad news, along with recognition of an achievement.

Don't blame yourself for being the bearer of bad news. Remember, you're just doing your job. As the wise philosopher Confucius once said, "The Superior Man is all embracing and not partial. The inferior man takes sides and does not see the whole situation."

In other words, people will understand that you must represent both issues equally. If they resent you for that, they are obviously inferior!

Until next time… may good meeting karma always be with you.

Read meeting dilemmas solved by the Meeting Guru.




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