No news is good news, the old saying goes. But sometimes bad news is unavoidable.

Rather than blurt it out in the first paragraph, which is likely to anger the reader and prevent an objective reading of the rest of your letter, break up your bad news into chunks. With a strategy for each paragraph, follow these basic steps to make the best of a bad situation.

1. Begin with a positive or at least a neutral opening. Emphasize past good relations: "Our companies have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship for many years." Or you can say something about the product or services of the company to which you are writing: "Your company has offered a quality product to the athletic community for the past 25 years."

Beginning with statements like these emphasize your objectivity and show that you are not bent solely on criticizing the company. If you cannot say anything positive, find something neutral to say: "About three weeks ago I visited your restaurant with a friend to have a Saturday afternoon lunch." This type of statement introduces the occasion of your letter by simply making factual statements.

 2. This provides helpful information that will allow the reader to have a more complete picture of the situation and respond appropriately: . Provide background details about the nature of the bad news.

we waited approximately thirty-five minutes. "We arrived at your restaurant about 1 p.m. though I had asked for medium well. while my wife's was large. but we then waited approximately 20 minutes for the server to arrive at our table. After giving our meal order. When I could finally get Helen's attention. The hostess seated us promptly. . When Helen finally arrived. she seemed distracted and got our beverages confused. though she had asked for medium. Mine was overcooked. she told us quickly it would be another five minutes for our steaks to come out. but we ended up waiting another fifteen minutes.

" . After 20 minutes of additional waiting. When we asked Helen to have our steaks recooked. she angrily grabbed our plates. paying the cashier for our beverages. we finally left.

state exactly what you want the manager to do with your bad news: "I just wanted to bring this situation to your attention so you can train servers to be more careful with customers' cooking preferences. In the third paragraph. The reader doesn't have to second-guess any of these.   A paragraph like this provides examples of the "poor service" which was the focus of this bad news letter. Also included are the server's name." . the length of time spent waiting. and the server's attitude. the type of cooking errors.

a change of company policy. and make it clear in the third paragraph. Know ahead of time what your purpose is in writing the letter." . suggesting confidence in the ability to restore good relations: "I am sure this episode can be quickly addressed to ensure that future visits will be comfortable and enjoyable. or an opportunity to vent. an apology. In the final paragraph. close on an upbeat note with a positive look to the future. 4.   In some cases you may ask for a refund.

   Or you can say something along these lines: "We hope that this one experience is merely a coincidence. Use neutral terms when possible." "terrible. and that future business will be conducted as smoothly as in the past." Avoid negative words like "can't." and the like. ." "bad." "mistake." "unfortunate." "regret.

This gives them the chance to make amends and retain the customer rather than recruit a new one. Most companies appreciate heart-felt feedback even when it is bad news. take the time to write a bad news letter if something should go wrong. your overall goal is to get good results. Both of you may benefit. Remember. . If you like doing business with a particular company.


make a sandwich. and you have to say "no" to that customer in a letter. . Soften the "no. any way I can help.  The client isn't always right. anything I can offer. anything I can say to please this customer?" There are always some things good to say. Start your letter with the best of those somethings. When you say no. Sometimes the customer is wrong. The top slice Start your letter with some good news." Ask yourself: "Despite my having to say "no." is there anything I can do.

Be lengthy rather than rude. Avoid sounding institutional. Explain the "no" from the viewpoint of the majority of your customers. Show that you took the customer's request seriously. The meat Explain your "no" in detail. .

Say something that you will do. or something that pleases the receiver. so leave a good taste in their mouths. The bottom slice End on a constructive note. The end of your letter is the part that readers remember longest. .

There should be NO MENTION of the bad news or any reference to it in the first paragraph.      Component Parts: There are FOUR PARTS (and at least four paragraphs) to each "bad news letter." These include: 1st paragraph: Buffer. . it is a buffer. Instead. The first paragraph should try to put the reader in a frame of reference on some point or points upon which the reader and writer can agree. The first paragraph of a bad news letter contains no mention whatsoever of the bad news.

 . Examples include: Thank you for applying for the secretarial position at our Harper City plant. Your interest in our company is appreciated.

refer to company policy that is not consistent with granting the request. you must begin to explain to the reader why his/her request cannot be granted. . there is still NO MENTION OF THE BAD NEWS in the second paragraph. the bad news should be a foregone conclusion. By the time the reader finishes reading the second paragraph. In the middle paragraph. Again.  2nd paragraph: The REASONS for the upcoming bad news. Instead.

it is necessary to match the skills and attitudes of applicants with those required for the position. Examples include: The key to a well-run office setting is hiring the right person for each position.  . In addition.

Be careful to bury the bad news. Focus on what you CAN do to help the reader. Again.   3rd paragraph: BURY the bad news in the middle of the third LONG paragraph. . the buffer at the beginning of the paragraph should continue with the rationale for the decision or. Suggest alternatives or other options that may meet the reader's needs just as well as the thing you can't do. not what you CAN'T do. offering of alternatives that may help the reader solve the problem has without exactly granting the request he/she has made. whenever possible.

Another candidate was selected for the position and has accepted that offer. Your application will be kept on file for the next six months and will be reviewed against requirements for any position that comes open during that time. . Following extensive interviews with more than 10 candidates. the Executive Secretary position in the Human Resources Department has been filled.

Objectives for this paragraph are to try to maintain the customer's goodwill and keep him/her as a customer for the future. . Be careful not to remind the reader of the bad news either. 4th paragraph: Off-the-subject Close: The last paragraph of the bad news letter makes no mention of the bad news.

This is not the case. it is not a good idea to invite further discussion.) You have stated your decision and your reasoning for it. and you do not want to imply that. please feel free to call me at xxxxxxx. (Such as: If you have any other questions. Unlike other letter styles. . in a bad news letter. To invite further discussion implies that you are open to negotiation or that you might change your mind.

    Examples of last paragraphs: Thanks for your interest in our company. Other Content Notes: Remember to use the YOU approach. Best wishes with your continued career plans. .

Try to begin sentences with you. Don't start the sentence with "you" that ends up blaming the reader. Answer the questions that are always on the mind of the reader: "What's in it for me?" What's this letter going to do to help me?" This is a little trickier for a bad news letter tthan a good news one. Be careful! . but be careful not to blame the reader for his/her actions. Don't begin a sentence with me or us or the name of the company (or “our company”.

Be careful not to use negative-sounding lead-in words or phrases such as "Nevertheless. it need not be NEGATIVE.  Maintain a professional tone." or "In spite of the fact that" These set up the negative message that is coming. . While the bad news letter won't be upbeat and positive." "Although.

 Don't APOLOGIZE for the bad news. Ask yourself what will be gained by an apology? The answer is "nothing!" When I say "I'm sorry. Does it change the situation and give you what you wanted? No. ." does it make you feel any better? Not really.

 Rewrite the following negative sentences to make them less harsh by eliminating negatives. by subordinating ideas. or by eliminating references to the specific reader. . changing voice and/or tense.

have no course background in social sciences.   We cannot consider you for the position in our Child Welfare Department. 1. You. Applicants for the position in our Child Welfare Department need a background in social sciences. . unfortunately. We will be able to consider your application for a position in our Child Welfare Department when you can demonstrate a background in social sciences. we will be able to consider your application. When you can demonstrate such a background. 1.

We haven't been able to secure anything like this for eight or nine years. we cannot honor your request. 2. Under the conditions of Academic Fresh Start you are not eligible for consideration. 3. . I conclude from what you said that you might not realize the term "visitor" refers to people who are neither students nor employees.   1. therefore.

. 2013 a $3. October 30. If the fine is not paid by 5:00 P.00late fee would also be assessed.M. 4.

We are sorry. This patient is mad! I cant treat him. but our policy does not permit pets in the hotel. please you take care of this mess for me!  . You will have to make other arrangements for these filthy creatures. 5. 6.

  7. We will send out your next order when we receive your payment. We have checked your credit record with other businesses and cannot extend you credit because of your slow paying habits. Since your payment of $400 is 150 days overdue. You take money from banks and then run away . it is impossible for us to extend you credit. 8.

 9. Now please leave and let us do our work! . It seems you accidentally dropped your lens. We certainly cannot replace it even though it was purchased only two months ago.

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