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Indirectness In Bad-News Messages

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1 Indirectness In Bad-News Messages
Chapter: 7 Indirectness In Bad-News Messages

2 Usually bad-news messages should be in the indirect order.
There are exceptions, as when the bad news is routine or when the reader prefers frankness.

3 The General Indirect Plan
Start with words that indicate response to the request, set up your strategy to overcome or reduce the impact of the negative material that follows (use buffer). Present your justification or explanation, using positive language and you-viewpoint. Refuse clearly and positively, including a counterproposal or compromise when appropriate. End with a goodwill comment.

4 Buffers A buffer is a proactive barrier that helps cushion the shock of bad news. In business correspondence, a buffer generally appears in the first paragraph of a letter or memo. The buffer eases the reader into the bad news, thereby making it less likely that the message will generate a defensive --- or possibly angry----reaction.

5 Buffers You must be careful that buffer doesn’t mislead the reader into thinking that a positive response will follow. Among the most frequently used buffers are expressions of appreciation, agreement, and general principle. A chronology of past communications and compliments can also help

6 Types of Bad-News Buffers
Function Example Appreciation Thanks readers for their contributions, thoughts, claims, credit applications, job applications, or inquiries. Thank you for contacting Maytag about a marketing position. I always appreciate hearing from qualified college graduates who are eager to join our company. Agreement Refers to an area of common ground shared by readers and the writer. Having worked together in the marketing department for five years, we clearly agree on the importance of point-of-purchase advertising.

7 Types of Bad-News Buffers
Function Example General principle Starts with a statement that defines company business practices. Because you are a regular customer at Barney’s, we track your purchases on computer and send notes to inform you of sales items in which you may be interested. Chronology of past communications Retraces what has happened to reach this point. When we spoke on January 2, I agreed to review your credit application in light of the two errors in your credit file. Compliment Praises the readers’ actions or contributions. No matter the objective, your efforts have always focused on our goals, and now is no exception. You have given me a thorough, timely proposal.

8 After the buffer, cite your reasons for saying no so that your reader understands your decision.
When you begin by presenting these reasons, you set the stage for the announcement of your bad news. You may, for example, explain how time limits, inventory, employment opportunities, or other resources justify what you can or cannot do.

9 Communicate the bad news next
Communicate the bad news next. Remember that stating bad news is not the same thing as being negative. You are basically telling the reader about a partial delivery, a credit refusal, or a claim or request that cannot be satisfied. In order to minimize --- and possibly eliminate ---- misunderstandings, it is important to state this news clearly and unequivocally. Depending on the situation, however, the best approach may be to subordinate your bad news to some positive information, perhaps using the passive voice.

10 Although an apology generally weakens a writer’s position, it may be necessary to apologize if your company is in the wrong or has made a serious mistake. Your bad-news announcement should avoid negative language and tone. End your message with goodwill.

11 Using a direct plan Bad-news memos can also use a direct organizational plan by starting with a statement of the news. For example, if management is announcing a reduction of vacation time form five to four weeks, the opening paragraph of the memo might state: ”Starting May 1, annual vacation time will be reduced from 5 to 4 weeks.”

12 Using Indirect and Direct Organizational Plans in Bad-News Messages
Type Function When Used Indirect Communicate bad news to customers, vendors, job applicants, co-workers by easing the reader into the news with a buffer and an explanation. Deliver bad-news messages about orders, credit, claims, requests, invitations, and personnel issues. Direct Communicate bad news to co workers and clients when a bottom-line approach is best. Deliver bad-news policy statements and messages to subordinates. Also to people who prefer direct approach.

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