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1. Bad News Messages Chapter 9
2. Main Concepts Purpose:
First, to say “no” or convey bad news
Second, to retain reader’s goodwill
Use polite, clear, and firm language
3. Planning What is my purpose?
Who is my audience? Put yourself in the place of the reader
Decide whether to use the direct or indirect plan
4. Direct Approach Reader prefers directness
Reader expects a “no” response
Writer wants to emphasize the negative news
Reader/Writer relationship is at either extreme—very close or very distant
5. Indirect Approach Reader is a subordinate.
Reader is a customer.
Reader prefers indirect approach.
Reader is someone the writer doesn’t know.
6. Indirect Approach Justify your decision
Major portion of message is to focus on the reasons rather than the bad news itself.
The reason is a business decision
not a personal one.
Company policy is based on sound
decisions. Give the reason behind
the policy. Avoid saying, “Company
policy prohibits me from…”
7. Justify If possible, explain how the reasons benefit the reader or, at least, benefit someone other than your organization.
See examples p. 313
Presenting reader benefits keeps your decision from sounding selfish.
Avoid making up a benefit just to have one.
8. Indirect Approach Begin with a neutral or buffer statement related to the topic of the message
Follow with bad news—keep it in a paragraph with the reasons
Offer alternative where possible
Close with goodwill on topic other than bad news
9. Giving the Bad News If you have done a convincing job of explaining the reasons, the bad news itself will come as no surprise.
The bad news will appear as the only logical and reasonable decision.
10. Giving the Bad News State bad news in positive or neutral language.
State what you are able to do rather than what you are not able to do.
11. Avoid “I trust that you now understand why we made this decision.”
Phrase the bad news using impersonal language and avoid using “you” or “your.”
Avoid using “but” and “however” to introduce bad news.
12. Avoid Cannot
Are not able to
13. Closing on a Pleasant Note “Again, I am sorry that we were unable to grant this request.”
“If you run into any problems, please write me directly.”
“If you have any further questions, please let me know.”
14. Examples See example p. 322
See example p. 323
15. Summary Purpose: say no and retain goodwill
Direct approach: expects news, has close/distant relationship, or emphasizes bad news
Indirect approach: is a subordinate or customer, prefers indirect approach, or is not well known to writer
Justify decision without apologizing
16. Summary: Bad News Format Buffer
Goodwill close on another topic