Presentation on theme: "Business Communications"— Presentation transcript:
1Business Communications Lesson SixFJU/AIEDLDr. M. ConnorBased on Excellence in Business Communication,5/e Thill and Bovée
2No body likes bad newsPeople don’t like to give it and people don’t like to get it.The giving part is especially true from someone from an Asian culture, but in a work situation, there are times when bad news just has to be given.Westerners will appreciate it if you give them the bad news straight out, but there are ways to cushion the blow
3NO!The word “no” is short and abrupt, so negative that a lot of people have trouble saying it.And for most people, it’s the hardest word to hear or understandThe delivery can be far more damaging than the word itself.
4The most dangerous ”no” The most dangerous “no” is usually the one you don’t explain.That’s why you must be careful when you deliver bad news.The three-step process can help you write bad-news messages that are more effective and less dangerous.
5Step 1: Planning your bad-news message When your message is a negative one, analysis becomes extremely important. If your purpose is specific, you are able to word it in the best possible way.You want to be sure that a bad-news message should indeed be sent and should definitely be sent in writing.
6Know your audienceAnd you really need to know how your audience will receive your message.Do readers prefer to receive negative news up front without delay?Or would they accept it better if you explained your reasons first?
7Get the factsAny investigation or research must yield reliable, unmistakable facts that will support your negative decision.You’ll want to be sure you have all the facts your audience will need.After sending your bad news, you don’t want to face a barrage of questions from confused readers
8Keeping a good relationship Finally, you’ll want to pay particular attention to maintaining a good relationship with your audience.Be sure to adapt your medium and tone to your audience.Careful attention to adaptation can help you avoid alienating your readers.
9Step 2: Writing your bad-news messages In a bad-news message, your main idea is a refusal, a rejection or a negative announcement, so you want to be careful about defining that main idea and about covering relevant points thoroughly and logically.
10Which approach?Choosing between the direct and indirect approaches takes an added importance in bad-news messages.You need to know whether it will be better to open with the bad news or prepare your readers with an explanation before you give them the negative bits.
11Word choiceYou also need to pay special attention to word choice so that you can create your sentences and paragraphs carefully.
12Step 3: Completing your bad-news messages Revision is as important as the other steps in the writing process.It helps you make sure that your bad-news messages are organized properly, that they say what you want them to say, and that they do so concisely and clearly.
13Strategies for bad-news messages There are five goals for bad-news messages:Give the bad newsEnsure its acceptanceMaintain the reader’s goodwillMaintain your organization’s good imageReduce further correspondence on the matter.
14Not an easy task!But there are some steps you can take that will make your bad-news messages more effective.Adopt an audience-centered toneOrganize your message to meet your audience’s needs and expectations by using either the direct or the indirect approach.
15Adopting an audience-centered tone Your tone contributes to your message’s effectiveness by helping your readersAccept that your bad-news represents a firm decisionUnderstand that, under the circumstances, your decision was fair and reasonableRemain well disposed towards your businessPreserve their pride
16Tone When establishing tone, strive for Firmness Fairness Goodwill Respect
17Use the “you” attitudeTry to point out how your decision might actually further your audience’s goals.Assume that your audience is interested in being fair, even when they are at fault
18Choose positive wordsJust make sure that your positive tone doesn’t hide the bad news behind difficult language.Remember, you want to convey the bad news, not cover it up.
19Polite words chart INSTEAD OF THIS... SAY THIS... I cannot understand what you mean. Please clarify your request.The damage won’t be fixed for a week. The item will be repaired....There will be a delay in your order. We will ship your order as soon as possible.You are clearly dissatisfied. We are doing what we can to make things right.Your account is in error. Corrections have been made to your account.The breakage was not our fault. The merchandise was broken during shipping.Sorry for the inconvenience. The enclosed coupon will save you 45 next time.We regret the misunderstanding. I’ll try my best to be more clear from now on.I was shocked to learn that you’re unhappy. Your letter reached me yesterday.Unfortunately, we haven’t received it. It hasn’t arrived yet.The enclosed statement is wrong. Please recheck the enclosed statement.
20Use respectful language This way you convey respect and avoid an accusing tone and thus save your audience’s pride.For instance, you might have to use the third person, impersonal and passive language.Say something like “The appliance won’t work after being submersed in water” instead of “You shouldn’t have immersed the appliance in water.”
21The ”you” attitudeWhen your audience is at fault, the “you” attitude is better observed by avoiding the word you.
22Using the direct approach As with most business messages, the key to choosing the best approach for bad-news messages is to analyze audience members first.How well do you know them?Some people would prefer to hear the bad news right away.Similarly, some situations are more appropriate for directness than others.If you know your audience would prefer the bad news first, or if the situation is minor and the news will cause your audience little pain or disappointment, then use the direct approach.
23Using the indirect approach Beginning a bad news message with a blunt “no” could prevent your audience from reading or listening to your reasons.Some prefer some preparation or explanation first.So the indirect approach eases your audience into your bad news by explaining your reasons before giving the bad news.
24Gaining acceptancePresenting the reasons first increases your chances of gaining audience acceptance by gradually preparing readers for the negative news to come.
25Four-part sequence The indirect approach follows a four-part sequence Open with a bufferContinue with a logical, neutral explanation of the reasons for the bad newsFollow with a clear but diplomatic statement of the bad news, emphasizing any good news and de-emphasizing the badClose with a positive forward-looking statement that is helpful and friendly.
26Open with a bufferA neutral, noncontroversial statement that is closely related to the point of the message is called a buffer.Breaking bad news with kindness and courtesy is the humane way to do things.Consideration for the feelings of others is never dishonest, and consideration helps others accept your message.
27Buffers Use a buffer that is NeutralRelevantNot misleadingAssertiveSuccinctTo write an effective buffer, avoid giving the impression that good news will follow.
28ExamplesOne: Your resume indicates that you would be well-suited for a management trainee position with our company.Two: Your resume shows very clearly why you would be interested in becoming a management trainee with our company.
29AnalysisThe second one emphasizes the applicant’s interpretations of her qualifications rather than the company’s evaluation of her qualifications.The first could be misleading, the second, less so.
30Things to avoid in writing a buffer Other things you need to avoid when writing a buffer:Avoid saying “no”.Avoid using a know-it-all tone.Avoid wordy and irrelevant phrases and sentences.Avoid apologizing.Avoid writing a buffer that is too long.
31Avoid saying “no”No matter how good the rest of the message is, you’ve already lost your audience.
32Avoid using a know-it-all tone When you use phrases like “you should be aware that,” readers expect your lecture to lead to a negative response, so they resist the rest of your message.
33Avoid wordy and irrelevant phrases and sentences Sentences such as “We have received your letter,” “This letter is in reply to request,” “We are writing in response to your request” are irrelevant.Make better use of the space by referring directly to the letter.
34Avoid apologizingUnless warranted by extreme circumstances, an apology only weakens the following explanation of your unfavorable news.
35Avoid writing a buffer that is too long Be brief.Identify something that both you and your audience are interested in and agree on before proceeding in a business like way.
36Follow your buffer with reasons Present the reasons that show that your decision is fair and reasonable.One way to be tactful is to emphasize how your decision benefits your readers rather than focusing on how the decision is good for your company.For example, when denying a credit request, you can show how your decision will prevent the person from becoming overextended financially.Facts and figures are often helpful in convincing members of your audience that you’re acting in their best interest.
37Reasons Well-written reasons are Detailed Tactful Individualized UnapologeticPositive
38Good example paragraph Because these management trainee positions are quite challenging, our human relations department has researched the qualifications needed to succeed in them. The findings show that the two most important qualifications are a bachelor’s degree in business administration and two years’ supervisory experience.
39AnalysisThis paragraph does a good job of stating the reasons for the refusal because:It provides enough detail to make the reason for the refusal logically acceptableIt implies that the applicant is better off avoiding a program in which he or she would probably fail, given the background of potential co-workersIt explains the company’s policy as logical rather than rigidIt offers no apology for the decisionIt avoids negative personal expressions (“You do not meet our requirements.”)
40Then state the bad news To handle bad news carefully De-emphasize the bad news visually and grammaticallyUse a conditional statementTell what you did do, not what you didn’t do for the audience
41Examples“The five positions currently open have been staffed with people whose qualifications match those uncovered by our research.”There, you don’t even say it outright that they are rejected. You may also add a line like “When you have more managerial experience, you are welcome to reapply.”
42Finally, end with a positive close Keep it positive.Don’t refer to, repeat, or apologize for the bad news, and avoid expressing any doubt that your reasons will be accepted.Avoid statements like “I trust our decision is satisfactory.” Of course, it’s not going to be satisfactory!
43Limit future correspondence Encourage future communication only if you’re willing to discuss the decision further.
44Be optimistic about the future Don’t anticipate problems.
45Be sincereSteer clear of clichés that are insincere in view of the bad news.Avoid saying something like “If we can be of any help, please contact us.”If you were helping them, you wouldn’t be writing a bad news letter!
46Be confidentDon’t show any doubt about keeping a person as a customer.Avoid phrases like “We hope you will continue to do business with us.”
47ExampleMany companies seek other qualifications in management trainees, so I urge you to continue your job search. You’ll certainly find an opening in which your skills and aspirations will match the job requirements exactly.
48Refusing claims.When refusing a claim, avoid language that might have a negative impact on the reader. Instead:Demonstrate that you understand and have considered the complaint.Explain your refusalSuggest alternative action.
49DefamationYou may be tempted to respond to something particularly outrageous by calling the person responsible a crook, a swindler or an incompetent.KEEP IT IN YOUR HEAD!If you don’t, you could be sued for defamation, a false statement that tends to damage someone’s character.
50Technical difference When defamation is spoken, the charge is slander. Remember this because they both start with “s”.When defamation is written, the charge is libel.
51Suing for defamationBy definition, someone suing for defamation would have to prove1) that the statements is false2) that the language is injurious to the person’s reputation3) that the statement has been “published”.
52Be aware!If you can prove that your accusations are true, you haven’t defamed the person.The courts are likely to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you still need to be careful.
53GuidelinesAvoid using any kind of abusive language or terms that could be considered defamatory.If you wish to express your own personal opinions about a sensitive matter, use your personal stationery and don’t include your job title or position. Take responsibility for your actions without involving your company.Provide accurate information and stick to the facts.Never let anger or malice motivate your messages.Consult your company’s legal department or an attorney whenever you think a message might have legal consequences.Communicate honestly and make sure that you are saying what you believe to be true.
54Rejecting job applicants Many of you will have to reject job applications in the future, and this is never easy.But you must send the message.Not sending a rejection to an applicant, especially one who has interviewed, is unacceptable.
55Three guidelines Open with the direct approach. Clearly state why the applicant was not selected.Close by suggesting alternatives.
56Open with the direct approach Job applicants know that good news will most likely come by phone and that bad news will most likely come by letter.If you try to buffer the bad news your reader is expecting, you will seem manipulative and insincere.
57Clearly state why the applicant was not selected Make your rejection less personal by stating that you hired someone with more experience or whose qualifications match the position requirements more closely.
58Close by suggesting alternatives If you believe the applicant is qualified, mention other openings within your company.You might suggest professional organizations that could help the applicant find employment.Or you might simply mention that the applicant’s resume will be considered for future openings.Any of these positive suggestions may help the applicant be less disappointed and view your company more positively.
59Not long A rejection letter need not be long. Sending a well-written form letter following these guidelines is better than sending no letter at all.The applicant only wants to know one thing: did I get the job?
60Negative performance reviews. A performance review is a manager’s formal or informal evaluation of an employee.The main purpose of these reviews is to improve employee performance byEmphasizing and clarifying job requirementsGiving employees feedback on their efforts towards fulfilling those requirements, andGuiding continued efforts by developing a plan of action, along with rewards and opportunities
61GuidelinesWhen you need to give a negative review, remember these guidelines:Confront the problem right away.Plan your message.Deliver messages in private.Ask for a commitment from the employee.
62Confront the problem right away Avoiding performance problems only makes them worse.
63Plan your messageI say this all the time, but it’s a must. Be clear about your concerns, and include examples of specific actions.Think about any possible biases you may have, and get feedback from others.
64Deliver messages in private Whether in writing or in person, be sure to address performance problems privately.Don’t send performance reviews by or fax.If you’re reviewing an employee’s performance face-to-face, conduct the review in a meeting specifically for that purpose
65Focus on the problemDiscuss the problems caused by the employee’s behavior without attacking the employee.Compare the employee’s performance with what’s expected, with company goals, or with job requirements.Identify the consequences of continuing poor performance, and show that you’re committed to helping to solve the problem.
66Ask for a commitment from the employee Help the employee understand that planning for and making improvements are the employee’s responsibility.However, finalize decisions jointly so that you can be sure any action to be taken is achievable.Set a schedule for improvement and for following up with evaluations of that improvement.