2 Goals in Communicating Bad News To make the reader understand and accept the bad newsTo promote and maintain a good image of the writer and the writer’s organizationTo make the message so clear that additional correspondence is unnecessaryTo avoid legal liability
7 The Indirect PatternBUFFER – a neutral or positive opening that does not reveal the bad newsREASONS – an explanation of the causes for the bad newsBAD NEWS – a clear but understated announcement of the bad news that may include an alternative or compromise
8 The Indirect PatternCLOSE – a personalizing, forward-looking, pleasant statement
10 Avoiding Three Causes of Legal Problems Abusive languageDefamation – use of any language that harms a person’s reputationLibel – written defamationSlander – spoken defamationCareless languageStatements that are potentially damaging or that could be misinterpreted (the factory is too hazardous for tour groups).
11 Avoiding Three Causes of Legal Problems “Good-guy” syndromeStatements that ease your conscience or make you look good (I thought you were an excellent candidate, but we had to hire ).
12 Acting CautiouslyAs an agent of an organization, be sure your views reflect those of your organization.Use plain paper for your personal views or personal business.Avoid supplying information that could be misused.Don’t admit or imply responsibility without checking with legal counsel.
14 BufferPay a compliment, show appreciation for past action, or refer to something mutually understood.Avoid raising false hopes.Avoid thanking the receiver for something you are about to refuse.
15 ReasonsExplain why the request must be denied, without revealing the refusal.Avoid negativity (unfortunately, impossible).Show how your decision benefits the receiver or others, if possible.
16 Bad News Soften the bad news by (1) subordinating it (although we can’t loan our equipment, we wish you well in . . .).(2) using the passive voice (office equipment can’t be loaned, but . . .).(3) embedding it in a long sentence or paragraph.
17 Bad News Consider implying the refusal, but be certain it is clear. Suggest an alternative, if one exists.
18 Close Supply more information about an alternative, if one is offered. Look forward to future relations.Offer good wishes and compliments.Avoid referring to the refusal.
20 BufferExpress appreciation for the customer’s patronage or for his or her writing.Show agreement on some point, review the facts, or show understanding.
21 ReasonsJustify the bad news with objective reasons (except in credit denials).Use resale, if appropriate, to restore the customer’s confidence.Avoid blaming the customer or hiding behind company policy.Look for reader benefits.
22 Bad News State the bad news objectively or imply it. Use resale or sales promotion only if you think doing so will not be offensive.
23 Close Suggest an action or an alternative. Look forward to future business, offer best wishes, refer to gifts.Don’t mention the bad news.
25 BufferProvide some good news (if possible), praise, appreciation, agreement, or understanding.Discuss facts leading to the reasons section.
26 Reasons Explain what caused the decision necessitating the bad news. Use objective, nonjudgmental, and nondiscriminatory language.Show empathy and fairness.
27 Bad News Explain the bad news clearly, but don’t accentuate it. Avoid negative language.
28 Close End on a positive, friendly note. For job refusals, extend good wishes.
29 Ineffective Customer Request Refusal “Before” Version 43
30 Customer Request Refusal: “Before” Version Dear Mr. Waters:Unfortunately, we cannot allow you to apply the lease payments you’ve been making for the past ten months toward the purchase of your Sako 600 copier.Company policy does not allow such conversion. Have you ever wondered why we can offer such low leasing and purchase prices? Obviously, we couldn’t stay in business long if we agreed to proposals such as yours.You’ve had the Sako 600 copier for ten months now, Mr. Waters, and you say you like its versatility and reliability. Perhaps we could interest you in another Sako model – one that’s more within your price range. Do give us a call.Sincerely,
31 Critical Thinking Questions 1. What is the purpose of the previous letter? What goals should the sender have?2. What prevents this letter from achieving those goals?3. What pattern of development would work best for this letter? Has it been followed?4. What idea could be used as a buffer to open an improved version of this letter? Write a buffer.5. How could the bad news be subordinated? Write a statement that subordinates the bad news.6. What friendly news could be used in the closing? Write a closing statement.
32 Improved Customer Request Refusal “After” Version 43
33 Customer Request Refusal: “After” Version Dear Mr. Waters:We’re happy to learn that you are enjoying the use of the Sako copier you’ve been leasing for the past ten months. Like our many other customers, you have discovered that Sako copiers offer remarkable versatility and reliability.One of the reasons we’re able to offer these outstanding copiers at such low leasing rates and equally low purchase prices is that we maintain a slim profit margin. If our program included a provision for applying lease payments toward the purchase price, our overall prices would have to be higher. Although lease payments cannot be credited toward purchase price, we can offer you other Sako models
34 Customer Request Refusal: “After” Version that are within your price range. The Sako 400 delivers the same reliability with nearly as many features as the Sako 600.Please let us demonstrate the Sako 400 to your staff in your office, Mr. Waters. Our representative, Tracy Wilson, will call you soon to arrange a time.Sincerely,