Communicating bad news is tricky.

Choosing not to communicate bad news isn’t an option.

Like most of life’s lessons, you learn more from your failures than you do from your successes. Certainly, this has been the case for me on the communications front.

Have you ever been told that you communicate too much, too little or too infrequently? Or, perhaps you are guilty of delivering a message that wasn’t right because your message is news the recipient simply doesn’t want to hear. Or, you didn’t choose your words carefully enough.

In business, most of us communicate too little. We assume all the players are on the same page, anticipating a common outcome. While that is sometimes true, most of the time, people don’t agree on the steps that will deliver them to that anticipated outcome. Without communicating along the way, there certainly will be bumps in the road.

From a client-relations perspective, messages need to be clear and concise. But, you also need to be prepared to fill in details to help paint the entire picture. This becomes especially important when there are no positive results to share. Candidates I have worked with have driven this point home time and time again. They want to know when a client has made a final decision, whether that decision is in their favor or not. They just want to know.

Lately, I’ve been on the receiving end of a customer-service transaction handled by a poor communicator. Dealing with the process from this vantage point is no fun either. The act of communicating with the real estate broker who is handling the sale of my house has been painful. There have been times during this 10-month-long process where we have not spoken in weeks. To most of us in a service industry, this is not acceptable. Sadly, I learned the fallacy of the expression, "no news is good news." In this case, no news has been the bad news that my agent didn’t want to deliver.

As a consumer, I have found this personal situation unacceptable. But, it serves as a reminder to never stop communicating. You can deal with what you know; it’s downright unsettling trying to deal with what you don’t know.