to nicely say not so nice things.
Main goals in Bad news messages:
the bad news in a positive manner, use word choices and tone that stays upbeat
and avoids placing blame.
your audience’s acceptance. This means crafting an audience-centered message.
as much goodwill as possible between you and the recipient.
This includes maintaining a good image of your business and making the
audience feel that the matter has been considered seriously and fairly.
of Bad news Messages:
or service related: order cancellations, refusal of license, refusal of claims
or complaints, negative company image.
related: refusal of a job application, refusal to write a letter of
recommendation, refusal of employment by the prospective employee.
related: negative performance reviews, terminating employment.
for bad news letters that will displease the audience)
a brief buffer as the first point.
This is a neutral, yet not
misleading, statement with which the audience can agree.
It transitions well into the next section.
your reasons for the bad news.
Unlike good news letters, bad news letters need a little more finesse and
the information must be handled with more delicacy.
Bluntly putting bad news first might offend or lose your audience.
bad news between positive
information. Be clear yet allow the
emphasis to fall on the positive. Remember, emphasis comes with space, so if you
would like to de-emphasize the bad news, be concise and give less space to it.
Bad news can also be de-emphasized by use of the passive voice.
This would also be the section of the letter to suggest an alternative,
goodwill in the closing.
Be pleasant and forward-looking. Though
conclusions usually summarize, bad news letters often deal with delicate
matters, so avoid bringing up bad news again.
(Best if the writer knows that the audience prefers the bad news first, if the situation is minor, if the reader will not be disappointed, or if a firm tone is needed.)
bad news first.
This approach does not seem as manipulative as the indirect and stating
the bad news first frees the writer to clarify the situation for the rest of the
the reasons that this course of
action was taken. Spend time on
these reasons to clearly explain to the audience why the course of action was
chosen. Again, offer alternatives
here if any exist.
3. Soothe the reader with a positive and forward-looking closing.
Back to Assignment #5
Adapted from: Bovee, Courtland L and John V. Thill, eds. Business Communication Today. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 2000.