If you want to see first-hand what raw, unfiltered disappointment looks like on the faces of usually-reserved adults, spend a few hours in the baggage claim area at a busy airport. Weary business travelers typically can be found first in line at the baggage carousel, their eyes glazed from in-flight meeting prep. First to hear the muffled rumblings of airport inner-workings, all their eyes fix on the heavy plastic curtain from which (they hope) their baggage will emerge. After watching the first-out bags spin solemnly around, disappearing and then reappearing, still unclaimed, spirits begin to falter. Each new bag that isn’t theirs holds the promise of another new bag that is, and as such, is assessed favorably. But you can almost hear guts wrenching with each lap of the unclaimed bags.
When people are waiting for luggage, they don’t want to see those same old bags spinning ‘round. Similarly, when your colleagues are waiting for something important, like an overdue project or a critical decision, they don’t want to hear you trot out the same old messages you always use when you’re stalling.
If you don’t have anything new to say about an upcoming change, lead with that message. Your colleagues await your news the same way travelers await bags. Don’t make them crazy by spinning your unclaimed bags around and around. Instead, have mercy by telling them something new or nothing at all.
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