David watched the color drain from her face — it was too much, too soon. Anyone feels comfortable delivering good news to their client, but not news like this.
It was our third day auditing this client, and we had touched base with our contact here (We’ll call her Wendy) a few times regarding the progress of our work. To make a long story short, it wasn’t a smooth audit, and the property owners were going to hear about it.
But the problem was that Wendy had literally never given bad news to this client before — she’d been on the job for less than a year, and all her updates thus far had been pretty positive. So when our team showed up with a list of changes, best practices, and concerns, it fell to Wendy to pass it along to the client.
Moving Forward One Step at a Time
Wendy had known about the upcoming conversation she would have to lead with the property owners since Monday when we arrived. She anticipated the conversation by asking question after question to make sure she had as much information from the auditor’s perspective as possible.
What David decided to do in that moment was to sit, address her concerns, and protect someone who had little experience in this specific situation. They constructed a bulleted list of what to say, why it matters, and what to do about it. This was a comfort, but perhaps not enough.
When the moment came closer that Wendy would have to deliver the news, David sat down with her again to walk through the process. Her face said it all: she wasn’t ready.
As visitors and service providers to our clients, it’s our job to take care of people in the limited interactions we share with them each year. We know our work causes stress in others, and when it helps them grow, it can be a growing kind of stress.
David could tell through Wendy’s body language and questions that this wasn’t the good kind of stress: it was simply eating her up. So to serve her, David made the call instead.
Taking things slowly and watching for others’ reactions is just a small part of our approach to service and leadership, but it can make all the difference in the world to someone like Wendy.