Chapter 6

Writing Bad-News Letters
Business Communication, 12e Lehman and DuFrene ©1999 South-Western College Publishing
O
List the steps in the inductive outline and
List the steps in the inductive outline and
identify the advantages of using it to convey
identify the advantages of using it to convey
bad news.
bad news.
O
Write letters refusing a request.
Write letters refusing a request.
O
Write letters denying a claim.
Write letters denying a claim.
O
Write letters refusing to complete an order.
Write letters refusing to complete an order.
O
Write letters denying credit.
Write letters denying credit.
O
Write a letter providing constructive
Write a letter providing constructive
criticism.
criticism.
O
List ways to handle special problems about
List ways to handle special problems about
the unpleasant.
the unpleasant.
Chapter 6 Learning Objectives
Chapter 6 Learning Objectives
Business Communication, 12e Lehman and DuFrene ©1999 South-Western College Publishing
TA 6–1 Chapter opener
All managers must know how to deliver
bad news with grace and tact.
Whenever possible, offer alternatives to
Whenever possible, offer alternatives to
“no” and always convey bad news with
“no” and always convey bad news with
sensitivity and empathy.
sensitivity and empathy.
F
A
C
T
O
R
Y

C
L
O
S
I
N
G
Business Communication, 12e Lehman and DuFrene ©1999 South-Western College Publishing
Inductive Outline:
Inductive Outline:
When the Reader Will Be Displeased
When the Reader Will Be Displeased
TA 6–2 Inductive Outline: When the Reader When Will Be Displeased
Present a neutral idea that leads
Present a neutral idea that leads
to the reasons for the refusal
to the reasons for the refusal
Close with an idea that shifts the
Close with an idea that shifts the
emphasis away from the refusal
emphasis away from the refusal
and indicates a continuing
and indicates a continuing
relationship with the reader
relationship with the reader
State the refusal positively;
State the refusal positively;
imply the refusal if possible
imply the refusal if possible
Present facts, analysis, and
Present facts, analysis, and
reasons for the refusal
reasons for the refusal
Patton Industries
1230 Industrial Road
Naperville, IL 60540
Makers of Quality Products Since 1903
www.patton.com
March 18, 1999
Mr. Robert Duncan
Neeley Foundation
9835 Franklin Building
Cambridge, MA 02140-9835
Dear Bob
You are to be commended for your commitment to create an
endowment for the Kirkland Homeless Shelter. This much-needed
project will aid the hundreds of homeless and increase the
community's awareness of the needs of this sector of our
population.
Amy Murray in our senior executive corps directed a similar short-
term project, Homes for Humanity. She organized the campaign,
solicited area coordinators, and managed publicity. If you can
benefit from her services, call her at 555-8700, extension 791.
Sincerely
Angela
Angela Larche
Director
Although
our current personnel shortage prevents us from lending you an
executive, we do want to support your worthy project.
The success of this project depends on a good project director.
The organizational, leadership, and public relations activities you
described demand an individual with upper-level managerial
experience. During the last year, Nemitz has decentralized its
organization, reducing the number of upper-level managers to the
minimal level needed.
Business Communication, 12e Lehman and DuFrene ©1999 South-Western College Publishing
Techniques for
Techniques for
De-emphasizing Negative Ideas
De-emphasizing Negative Ideas
E
Use inductive outline that positions the bad news between Use inductive outline that positions the bad news between
a logical explanation and a goodwill closing. a logical explanation and a goodwill closing.
E
Imply the bad news if possible. Use subjunctive mood. Imply the bad news if possible. Use subjunctive mood.
Had you selected a variable rate, you could have taken
advantage of the recent drop in interest rates.
Not: We cannot ship your order until . . . .
Instead: Your order will be shipped when. . . .
E
Use positive language that accents the good. Use positive language that accents the good.
¤
Select words with positive connotations. Select words with positive connotations.
¤
State what you can do instead of what you cannot State what you can do instead of what you cannot
do. do.
¤
Include a pleasant idea in the refusal sentence. Include a pleasant idea in the refusal sentence.
TA 6–3 Techniques for De-emphasizing Negative Ideas (Slide 1 of 2)
Business Communication, 12e Lehman and DuFrene ©1999 South-Western College Publishing
E
Offer a counterproposal that shows the writer Offer a counterproposal that shows the writer
wants wants to help. to help.
Although our current personnel shortage prevents us . .,
we can (alternative).
Not: You failed to verify the payroll figures.
Instead: The payroll figures must be verified. (passive)
Please verify the payroll figures. (focuses on the
solution—not the problem)
TA 6–3 Techniques for De-emphasizing Negative Ideas (Slide 2 of 2)
E
Use stylistic techniques: Use stylistic techniques:
¤
Complex sentence - bad news in the dependent Complex sentence - bad news in the dependent
clause clause
¤
General terms and abstract nouns General terms and abstract nouns
¤
Passive voice Passive voice
Business Communication, 12e Lehman and DuFrene ©1999 South-Western College Publishing
Techniques for First Paragraph
Techniques for First Paragraph
Þ
Begin with a buffer -
Begin with a buffer -
something about which
something about which
both sides can agree
both sides can agree
Þ
Avoid empty
Avoid empty
acknowledgments of the
acknowledgments of the
obvious
obvious
Þ
Avoid tipping off the bad
Avoid tipping off the bad
news too early
news too early
Þ
Avoid starting too positive
Avoid starting too positive
so as to build false hopes
so as to build false hopes
TA 6–4 Bad-News Message: Techniques for First Paragraph
Patton Industries
1230 Industrial Road
Naperville, IL 60540
Makers of Quality Products Since 1903
www.patton.com
March 18, 1999
Mr. Robert Duncan
Neeley Foundation
9835 Franklin Building
Cambridge, MA 02140-9835
Dear Bob
You are to be commended for your commitment to create an
endowment for the Kirkland Homeless Shelter. This much-needed
project will aid the hundreds of homeless and increase the
community's awareness of the needs of this sector of our
population.
Amy Murray in our senior executive corps directed a similar short-
term project, Homes for Humanity. She organized the campaign,
solicited area coordinators, and managed publicity. If you can
benefit from her services, call her at 555-8700, extension 791.
Sincerely
Angela
Angela Larche
Director
Although
our current personnel shortage prevents us from lending you an
executive, we do want to support your worthy project.
The success of this project depends on a good project director.
The organizational, leadership, and public relations activities you
described demand an individual with upper-level managerial
experience. During the last year, Nemitz has decentralized its
organization, reducing the number of upper-level managers to the
minimal level needed.
Business Communication, 12e Lehman and DuFrene ©1999 South-Western College Publishing
Techniques for Reasons
Techniques for Reasons
and Explanation Section
and Explanation Section
Þ
Provide a smooth transition
Provide a smooth transition
from the opening to the
from the opening to the
explanation
explanation
Þ
Precede the bad news with
Precede the bad news with
one or more reasons that are
one or more reasons that are
logical to the reader
logical to the reader
Þ
Avoid using “company
Avoid using “company
policy” as the reason
policy” as the reason
Þ
Show reader benefit and/or
Show reader benefit and/or
consideration
consideration
TA 6–5 Bad-News Message: Techniques for Reasons and Explanation Section
Patton Industries
1230 Industrial Road
Naperville, IL 60540
Makers of Quality Products Since 1903
www.patton.com
March 18, 1999
Mr. Robert Duncan
Neeley Foundation
9835 Franklin Building
Cambridge, MA 02140-9835
Dear Bob
You are to be commended for your commitment to create an
endowment for the Kirkland Homeless Shelter. This much-needed
project will aid the hundreds of homeless and increase the
community's awareness of the needs of this sector of our
population.
Amy Murray in our senior executive corps directed a similar short-
term project, Homes for Humanity. She organized the campaign,
solicited area coordinators, and managed publicity. If you can
benefit from her services, call her at 555-8700, extension 791.
Sincerely
Angela
Angela Larche
Director
Although
our current personnel shortage prevents us from lending you an
executive, we do want to support your worthy project.
The success of this project depends on a good project director.
The organizational, leadership, and public relations activities you
described demand an individual with upper-level managerial
experience. During the last year, Nemitz has decentralized its
organization, reducing the number of upper-level managers to the
minimal level needed.
Business Communication, 12e Lehman and DuFrene ©1999 South-Western College Publishing
Techniques for
Techniques for
Bad-News Sentence
Bad-News Sentence
Þ
Avoid unnecessary use of
Avoid unnecessary use of
negative words
negative words
Þ
Place negative news in buried
Place negative news in buried
position
position
Þ
State the bad news once;
State the bad news once;
avoid restating or returning to it
avoid restating or returning to it
Þ
Emphasize any positive aspect
Emphasize any positive aspect
Þ
Follow bad news with a
Follow bad news with a
counterproposal when possible
counterproposal when possible
TA 6–6 Bad-News Message: Techniques for Bad-News Sentence
Patton Industries
1230 Industrial
Road
Naperville, IL
60540
Makers of Quality Products Since 1903
www.patton.com
March 18, 1999
Mr. Robert Duncan
Neeley Foundation
9835 Franklin Building
Cambridge, MA 02140-9835
Dear Bob
You are to be commended for your commitment to create an
endowment for the Kirkland Homeless Shelter. This much-
needed project will aid the hundreds of homeless and
increase the community's awareness of the needs of this
sector of our population.
Amy Murray in our senior executive corps directed a similar
short-term project, Homes for Humanity. She organized the
campaign, solicited area coordinators, and managed publicity.
If you can benefit from her services, call her at 555-8700,
extension 791.
Sincerely
Angela
Angela Larche
Director

Although our current personnel shortage prevents us from
lending you an executive, we do want to support your worthy
project.
The success of this project depends on a good project
director. The organizational, leadership, and public relations
activities you described demand an individual with upper-level
managerial experience. During the last year, Nemitz has
decentralized its organization, reducing the number of upper-
level managers to the minimal level needed.
Business Communication, 12e Lehman and DuFrene ©1999 South-Western College Publishing
Techniques for
Techniques for
Closing Paragraph
Closing Paragraph
Þ
Convey an empathetic tone
Convey an empathetic tone
Þ
Avoid returning to the bad
Avoid returning to the bad
news
news
Þ
Avoid trite, worn-out
Avoid trite, worn-out
statements that seem
statements that seem
shallow and superficial
shallow and superficial
Þ
End with a positive, forward-
End with a positive, forward-
looking idea
looking idea
TA 6–7 Bad-News Message: Techniques for Closing Paragraph
Patton Industries
1230 Industrial Road
Naperville, IL 60540
Makers of Quality Products Since 1903
www.patton.com
March 18, 1999
Mr. Robert Duncan
Neeley Foundation
9835 Franklin Building
Cambridge, MA 02140-9835
Dear Bob
You are to be commended for your commitment to create an
endowment for the Kirkland Homeless Shelter. This much-needed
project will aid the hundreds of homeless and increase the
community's awareness of the needs of this sector of our
population.
Amy Murray in our senior executive corps directed a similar short-
term project, Homes for Humanity. She organized the campaign,
solicited area coordinators, and managed publicity. If you can
benefit from her services, call her at 555-8700, extension 791.
Sincerely
Angela
Angela Larche
Director
Although
our current personnel shortage prevents us from lending you an
executive, we do want to support your worthy project.
The success of this project depends on a good project director.
The organizational, leadership, and public relations activities you
described demand an individual with upper-level managerial
experience. During the last year, Nemitz has decentralized its
organization, reducing the number of upper-level managers to the
minimal level needed.
E
Use original expression(sentences are not copied
directly from the definition of the problem or from
sample letters in text); omit clichés)
Mechanics
E
Ensure that keyboarding, spelling, grammar, and
punctuation are perfect
Format
E
Use correct letter format (block, modified block, or
simplified) and punctuation style (open or mixed)
E
Balance letter on the page
E
Include standard letters parts in appropriate
position
E
Include special parts if necessary (subject line,
enclosure, copy, etc.)
Check Your Writing:
Check Your Writing:
Unpleasant Messages
Unpleasant Messages
Check Your Writing:
Check Your Writing:
Unpleasant Messages
Unpleasant Messages
Content
E
Be sure the principal idea (the
unpleasant idea or refusal) is sufficiently
clear
E
Use sufficient supporting details and
present them in a logical sequence
E
Verify accuracy of facts or figures
E
Structure the message to meet ethical
and legal requirements
Organization
E
Structure the first sentence to introduce
the general subject
• without stating the bad news
• without leading the reader to expect
good news
• without making such an obvious
statement as “I am replying to your
letter” or “Your letter has been
received”
E
Place details or explanations before bad
news
E
Precede the main idea (unpleasant idea) with
meaningful discussion
E
Use a closing sentence that is positive (an
alternative, resale, or sales promotion)
Style
E
Write clearly and concisely (e.g., words are
easily understood)
E
Use techniques of subordination to keep the
bad news from emerging with unnecessary
vividness. For example bad news
• appears in a dependent clause
• is stated through indirect statement
• is revealed the use of subjunctive mood
E
Use first person sparingly or not at all
E
Make ideas cohere (changes in thought are
not abrupt)
E
Use relatively short sentences that vary in
length and structure
E
Keep paragraphs relatively short

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