2 Goals in Communicating Bad News Acceptance—strive to help receiver understand and accept the bad news.Positive image—promote good image of yourself and your organization. Strive to reduce bad feelings. Convey fairness.Message clarity—make the message so clear that no further correspondence is necessary.Protection—avoid creating legal liability.
3 Preventing Legal Problems Avoid abusive language.Defamation—false published statement that harms an individual's reputationLibel—written defamationSlander—spoken defamationExamples: deadbeat, crook, quack
4 Preventing Legal Problems Avoid careless language.Avoid potentially damaging or easily misinterpreted statements. Example: The factory floor is too dangerous for visitors on field trips.
5 Preventing Legal Problems Remember that you represent your organization.Your business messages must represent the views of the organization.Be careful about revealing company information, even in a personal blog.
6 Common Reactions to Negative Information Goods cannot be delivered as promisedProduct failureCredit refusalBilling errorDisappointmentIrritationAnger
7 You Can Usually Diminish Negative Feelings if The reader knows the reasons for the rejectionThe bad news is revealed with sensitivityDisappointmentIrritationAnger
8 The Indirect StrategyBufferReasonsBadNewsClosingUsing the indirect strategy to communicate bad news appeals to relationship-oriented writers who care about how a message will affect its receiver.
9 The Indirect StrategyBufferReasonsBadNewsClosingThe indirect strategy allows you to prepare the reader before delivering the bad news, thus softening the impact of the bad news.
10 Possible Buffers for Opening Bad-News Messages ReasonsBadNewsClosingBest newsComplimentAppreciationAgreementFactsUnderstandingApology
11 Evaluating Buffer Statements How effective are the following openings for a letter that refuses to grant credit?Quick CheckUnfortunately, your application for credit has been reviewed negatively.Reveals the bad news bluntly.We sincerely regret that we must deny your credit application.Sounds phony and canned.
12 Evaluating Buffer Statements How effective are the following openings for a letter that refuses to grant credit?We are delighted to receive your application for credit.Gives the wrong impression.The recent resurgence of interest in the stock market caught many of us by surprise.Is not relevant.
13 Evaluating Buffer Statements How effective are the following openings for a letter that refuses a request for a donation?Your request for a monetary contribution has been referred to me for reply.Fails to engage the reader.We appreciate the fine work your organization is doing to provide early childhood programs that meet the needs of parents and very young children.Compliments reader and implies approval.
14 Presenting the Reasons BufferReasonsBadNewsClosingBe cautious in explaining.Cite reader benefits, if possible.Explain company policy, if relevant.Choose positive words.Show that the matter was treated seriously and fairly.
15 BufferReasonsBadNewsClosingTo reveal the bad news with sensitivity, apply the following techniques for Cushioning Bad News:
16 a compromise or an alternative. Use thepassivevoice.Suggesta compromise or an alternative.Implytherefusal.Be clearbut notoverly graphic.Place thebad newsin a subordinateclause.Use alongsentence.Avoidspotlight.Techniques forCushioningBad News
17 Cushioning the Bad News Avoid the spotlight. Put the bad news in the middle of a paragraph halfway through the message.Use a long sentence. Don’t put the bad news in a short, simple sentence.
18 Cushioning the Bad News Place the bad news in a subordinate clause.Although we have no opening for an individual with your qualifications at this time, we are pleased that you thought of us when you started your job search.
19 Cushioning the Bad News Be clear but not overly graphic.Instead of thisOur investigation reveals that you owe three creditors large sums and that you were fired from your last job.Try thisOur investigation reveals that your employment status and your financial position are unstable at this time.
20 Cushioning the Bad News Imply the refusal.Instead of thisWe cannot contribute to your charity this year.Try thisAlthough all our profits must be reinvested in our company this year, we hope to be able to support your future fund-raising activities.
21 Cushioning the Bad News Suggest a compromise or an alternative.Although the cashmere sweater cannot be sold at the erroneously listed price of $18, we can allow you to purchase this $218 item for only $118.
22 Cushioning the Bad News Consider using passive voice verbs.Passive-voice verbs focus attention on actions rather than on personalities. They are useful in being tactful.Instead of thisWe cannot make a contribution at this time.Try thisA contribution cannot be made at this time.
23 Cushioning the Bad News Consider using passive voice verbs.Active voiceI cannot allow you to return the DVD player becausePassive voiceReturn of the DVD player is not allowed becauseRyan checked the report, but he missed the error.The report was checked, but the error was missed.
24 Cushioning the Bad News Notice that passive-voice verb phrases always include “helper” verbs, such as is, are, was, were, being, or been.Examples of “helper” verbs forming passive voice:The report was checked.The schedule is being revised.Invitations were sent.
25 Convert the following statements from active to passive voice. I am unable to make a cash contribution this year because of unusually high expenses.A cash contribution cannot be made this year because of unusually high expenses.Quick CheckWe cannot process your application this month.Your application cannot be processed this month.
26 Convert the following statements from active to passive voice. We sell our products only through franchised retailers.Our products are sold only through franchised retailers.Mark made a programming error that delayed our project.A programming error was made that delayed our project.
27 Closing Bad-News Messages BufferReasonsBadNewsClosingAvoid endings that sound canned, insincere, inappropriate, or self-serving. Try to personalize the closing withA forward lookAn alternative to the refusalGood wishesFreebiesResale or sales promotion
28 Writing Plan for Refusing Routine Requests or Claims BufferReasonsBadNewsClosingStart with a neutral statement on which both reader and writer can agree, such as a compliment, an expression of appreciation, a quick review of the facts, or an apology.Try to include a key idea or word that acts as a transition to the explanation.
29 Writing Plan for Refusing Routine Requests or Claims BufferReasonsBadNewsClosingPresent valid reasons for the refusal, avoiding words that create a negative tone.Include resale or sales promotion, if appropriate.
30 Writing Plan for Refusing Routine Requests or Claims BufferReasonsBadNewsClosingSoften the blow by positioning the bad news strategically, using the passive voice, accentuating the positive, or implying a refusal.Suggest a compromise or substitute, if possible.
31 Writing Plan for Refusing Routine Requests or Claims BufferReasonsBadNewsClosingRenew good feelings with a positive statement.Look forward to continued business.Avoid referring to the bad news.
32 Controlling Damage With Disappointed Customers Call the individual involved.Describe the problem and apologize.ExplainWhy the problem occurredWhat you are doing to resolve the problemHow you will prevent the problem from happening again
33 Controlling Damage With Disappointed Customers Follow with a letter thatDocuments details discussed in the phone callPromotes goodwill
34 Refusing Credit Four goals in conveying credit refusals: Avoiding language that causes hard feelingsRetaining customers on a cash basisPreparing for possible future credit without raising false expectationsAvoiding disclosures that could cause a lawsuit
35 Delivering Bad News Personally Gather all the information.Prepare and rehearse.Explain past, present, and future.Consider taking a partner.Think about timing.Be patient with the reaction.
36 Writing Plan for Breaking Bad News to Employees BufferReasonsBadNewsClosingOpen with a neutral or positive statement that transitions to the reasons for the bad news.Consider mentioning the best news, a compliment, appreciation, agreement, or solid facts.Show understanding.
37 Writing Plan for Breaking Bad News to Employees BufferReasonsBadNewsClosingExplain the logic behind the bad news.Provide a rational explanation using positive words and displaying empathy.Try to show reader benefits, if possible.
38 Writing Plan for Breaking Bad News to Employees BufferReasonsBadNewsClosingPosition the bad news so that it does not stand out.Be positive but don’t sugarcoat it.Use objective language.
39 Writing Plan for Breaking Bad News to Employees BufferReasonsBadNewsClosingProvide information about an alternative, if one exists.If appropriate, describe what will happen next.Look forward positively.