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Chapter 11 Negative News Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product , 5e Copyright © 2006 Goals in Communicating Bad News To make the reader understand and accept the bad news To promote and maintain a good image of the writer and the writer’s organization

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Chapter 11 negative news l.jpg

Chapter 11Negative News

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication:

Process and Product, 5e

Copyright © 2006


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Goals in CommunicatingBad News

  • To make the reader understand and accept the bad news

  • To promote and maintain a good image of the writer and the writer’s organization

  • To make the message so clear that additional correspondence is unnecessary

  • To avoid legal liability

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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The Indirect Pattern

Buffer

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Buffer

Reasons

The Indirect Pattern

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Buffer

Reasons

Bad News

The Indirect Pattern

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Buffer

Reasons

Bad News

Close

The Indirect Pattern

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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The Indirect Pattern

  • BUFFER – a neutral or positive opening that does not reveal the bad news

  • REASONS – an explanation of the causes for the bad news

  • BAD NEWS – a clear but understated announcement of the bad news that may include an alternative or compromise

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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The Indirect Pattern

  • CLOSE – a personalizing, forward-looking, pleasant statement

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Avoiding Three Causes ofLegal Problems

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Avoiding Three Causes ofLegal Problems

  • Abusive language

    Defamation – use of any language that harms a person’s reputation

    Libel – written defamation

    Slander – spoken defamation

  • Careless language

    Statements that are potentially damaging or that could be misinterpreted (the factory is too hazardous for tour groups).

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Avoiding Three Causes ofLegal Problems

  • “Good-guy” syndrome

    Statements that ease your conscience or make you look good (I thought you were an excellent candidate, but we had to hire . . . ).

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Acting Cautiously

  • As an agent of an organization, be sure your views reflect those of your organization.

  • Use plain paper for your personal views or personal business.

  • Avoid supplying information that could be misused.

  • Don’t admit or imply responsibility without checking with legal counsel.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Refusing Routine Requests

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Buffer

  • Pay a compliment, show appreciation for past action, or refer to something mutually understood.

  • Avoid raising false hopes.

  • Avoid thanking the receiver for something you are about to refuse.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Reasons

  • Explain why the request must be denied, without revealing the refusal.

  • Avoid negativity (unfortunately, impossible).

  • Show how your decision benefits the receiver or others, if possible.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Bad News

  • Soften the bad news by

  • (1) subordinating it (although we can’t loan our equipment, we wish you well in . . .).

  • (2) using the passive voice (office equipment can’t be loaned, but . . .).

  • (3) embedding it in a long sentence or paragraph.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Bad News

  • Consider implying the refusal, but be certain it is clear.

  • Suggest an alternative, if one exists.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Close

  • Supply more information about an alternative, if one is offered.

  • Look forward to future relations.

  • Offer good wishes and compliments.

  • Avoid referring to the refusal.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Sending Bad Newsto Customers

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Buffer

  • Express appreciation for the customer’s patronage or for his or her writing.

  • Show agreement on some point, review the facts, or show understanding.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Reasons

  • Justify the bad news with objective reasons (except in credit denials).

  • Use resale, if appropriate, to restore the customer’s confidence.

  • Avoid blaming the customer or hiding behind company policy.

  • Look for reader benefits.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Bad News

  • State the bad news objectively or imply it.

  • Use resale or sales promotion only if you think doing so will not be offensive.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Close

  • Suggest an action or an alternative.

  • Look forward to future business, offer best wishes, refer to gifts.

  • Don’t mention the bad news.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Managing Negative Organization News

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Buffer

  • Provide some good news (if possible), praise, appreciation, agreement, or understanding.

  • Discuss facts leading to the reasons section.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Reasons

  • Explain what caused the decision necessitating the bad news.

  • Use objective, nonjudgmental, and nondiscriminatory language.

  • Show empathy and fairness.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Bad News

  • Explain the bad news clearly, but don’t accentuate it.

  • Avoid negative language.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Close

  • End on a positive, friendly note.

  • For job refusals, extend good wishes.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Ineffective Customer Request Refusal “Before” Version

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Customer Request Refusal: “Before” Version

Dear Mr. Waters:

Unfortunately, we cannot allow you to apply the lease payments you’ve been making for the past ten months toward the purchase of your Sako 600 copier.

Company policy does not allow such conversion. Have you ever wondered why we can offer such low leasing and purchase prices? Obviously, we couldn’t stay in business long if we agreed to proposals such as yours.

You’ve had the Sako 600 copier for ten months now, Mr. Waters, and you say you like its versatility and reliability. Perhaps we could interest you in another Sako model – one that’s more within your price range. Do give us a call.

Sincerely,

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Critical Thinking Questions

1. What is the purpose of the previous letter? What goals should the sender have?

2. What prevents this letter from achieving those goals?

3. What pattern of development would work best for this letter? Has it been followed?

4. What idea could be used as a buffer to open an improved version of this letter? Write a buffer.

5. How could the bad news be subordinated? Write a statement that subordinates the bad news.

6. What friendly news could be used in the closing? Write a closing statement.

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Improved Customer Request Refusal “After” Version

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Customer Request Refusal: “After” Version

Dear Mr. Waters:

We’re happy to learn that you are enjoying the use of the Sako copier you’ve been leasing for the past ten months. Like our many other customers, you have discovered that Sako copiers offer remarkable versatility and reliability.

One of the reasons we’re able to offer these outstanding copiers at such low leasing rates and equally low purchase prices is that we maintain a slim profit margin. If our program included a provision for applying lease payments toward the purchase price, our overall prices would have to be higher. Although lease payments cannot be credited toward purchase price, we can offer you other Sako models

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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Customer Request Refusal: “After” Version

that are within your price range. The Sako 400 delivers the same reliability with nearly as many features as the Sako 600.

Please let us demonstrate the Sako 400 to your staff in your office, Mr. Waters. Our representative, Tracy Wilson, will call you soon to arrange a time.

Sincerely,

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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End

Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e


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