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Sensitive Messages. Includes material from Guffey text Ch 11. Discussion . Share a time you received bad news in writing. What did you like and dislike about the method used?. Goals in Communicating Bad News. To make the reader understand and accept the bad news

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Sensitive Messages

Includes material from Guffey text Ch 11


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Discussion

  • Share a time you received bad news in writing. What did you like and dislike about the method used?


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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


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Buffer

Reasons

Bad News

Close

The Indirect Pattern


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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

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


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Buffering the Opening

  • Best News

    To ensure that your correspondence goes out with the last pickup, we’re starting a new messenger pickup service at 2:30pm


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Buffering the Opening

  • Compliment

    The Kiwanas have my sincere admiration for their fundraising projects on behalf of hungry children, I am honored that you asked me to speak…. (avoid raising false hopes)


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Buffering the Opening

  • Appreciation

    I appreciated learning about your qualifications during our interview. [note: avoid thanking the reader for something you are about to refuse]


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Buffering the Opening

  • Agreement

    We both realize how much the export business has been affected by the relative strength of the dollar in the past two years.


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Buffering the Opening

  • Facts

    During the past five years the number of employees eating breakfast I our cafeteria has dropped from 32% to 12%.


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Buffering the Opening

  • Understanding

    We know that you expect superior performance from all the products you purchase from Office City.


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Buffering the Opening

  • Apology

    We’re genuinely sorry you were disappointed in the quality of the ice cream you recently purchased at Amy’s. Your opinion is important to us, and we appreciate your giving us the opportunity to look into the problem you describe.


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Reasons: Refusing Requests

  • 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.

  • Focus on maintaining the relationship – avoid being blunt or insensitive to needs


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Reasons: Sending Bad News to Customers

  • Justify the bad news with objective reasons

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

  • Avoid blaming the customer or hiding behind company policy

  • Look for reader benefits

  • Maintain relationship if at all possible


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Reasons: Negative Organizational News

  • Explain - what caused the decision

  • Use objective, nonjudgmental language

  • Show empathy and fairness


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Bad News

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

  • Avoid negative language.

  • Say the bad news once and move on to a focus on the future/alternatives.

  • Never repeat the bad news


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Bad News

  • Consider burying the bad news in the middle of the memo/letter and/or in the middle or at the end of a paragraph.

  • Suggest an alternative, if one exists.


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Bad News

  • Subordinating bad news in passive voice

    • although our equipment can’t be loaned, we wish you well in . . .

  • Implying bad news in passive voice

    • Because our equipment is sold only through dealers, we invite you to examine it at your local Stereo City.


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Passive-Voice Verbs

Rewrite these sentences in passive voice:

  • Because of our Web site, we are no longer offering a printed catalog.

  • We are unable to grant your request for a loan.


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Subordinating Bad News

Subordinating formula:

While/Although (bad news in passive voice), (alternative in active voice)

Rewrite subordinating the bad news:

  • It is impossible for us to ship your complete order at this time. However, we are able to send the four oak desks now; you will receive them within five days.


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Implying Bad News

Implying formula:

Because/Since (reason in passive voice), (alternative in active voice).

Rewrite implying the bad news:

  • I already have a prior engagement in my appointment calendar for March 31st. Therefore, I am unable to speak to your group. However, I would like to recommend another speaker.


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Implying Bad News

Rewrite implying the bad news:

  • Because of the holiday period, all our billboard space was used this month. Therefore, we are sorry to say that we could not give your group display space. However, next month we hope to display your message.


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Close

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

  • Look forward to future business.

  • Offer good wishes and compliments.

  • Avoid referring to the refusal/bad news.

  • End on a positive, friendly note.


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Avoiding Three Causes Of Legal Problems


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Avoiding Three Causes of Legal Problems

  • Abusive language

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

  • Libel – written defamation

  • Slander – spoken defamation

  • Help Desk


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Avoiding Three Causes of Legal Problems

  • Careless language

  • Avoid making statements that are potentially damaging or that could be misinterpreted (the factory is too hazardous for tour groups).


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Avoiding Three Causes of Legal Problems

  • The “good-guy” syndrome

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


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Avoiding Legal Problems: Final Tips

  • Your view must reflect organizations’

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

  • When turning down job candidates

    • focus on skills/abilities of the candidate

    • avoid any reference to non job-related reasons


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Use the Direct Pattern When

  • When the receiver may overlook the bad news

  • When organization policy/culture suggests directness

  • When the receiver prefers directness


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Use the Direct Pattern When

  • When firmness is necessary. Employee disciplinary actions.

  • When the bad news is not damaging or is insignificant (note: insignificant is in the eye of the beholder!)



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MEMORANDUM

TO: David Walters

FROM: Bob Goof

SUBJECT: Your request

Unfortunately, we cannot permit 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, 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.


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Critical Thinking Questions

  • What is the purpose of the memo?

  • What goals should Bob have?

  • What prevents this memo from achieving those goals

  • What are the likely audience questions, misconceptions, and agreements?

  • What idea could be used as a buffer?

  • How could the bad news be subordinated? Implied?

  • What attractive alternative could be offered?

  • How could the letter provide a friendly close?


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“After” – Improved Request Refusal Memo


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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. A provision for applying lease payments toward the purchase price would result in an increase in overall prices. Although lease payments cannot be credited toward purchase price, we can offer you other Sako models 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. Our representative, Tracy Wilson, will call you soon to arrange a time.

We look forward to your continued business.


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“Before” – Ineffective Bad News Memo to Employees 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.


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DATE: 10/16/04 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.

MEMO TO: Staff

Beginning January 1 your monthly payment for healthcare benefits will be increased from $42 to $109.

Every year healthcare costs go up. Although we considered dropping other benefits, Midland decided that the best plan was to keep the present comprehensive package. Unfortunately, we can’t do that unless we pass along some of the extra cost to you. Last year the company was forced to absorb the total increase in healthcare premiums. However, such a plan this year is inadvisable.

We did everything possible to avoid the sharp increase in costs to you this year. A rate schedule describing the increases in payments for your family and dependents is enclosed.


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Bad News Memo: Ineffective 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.


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Critical Thinking Questions 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.

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.


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Critical Thinking Questions 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.

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.


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Healthcare programs have always been an important part of our commitment to employees at Midland, Inc. We’re proud that our total benefits package continues to rank among the best in the country.

Such a comprehensive package does not come cheaply. In the last decade healthcare costs alone have risen over 300 percent. We’re told that several factors fuel the cost spiral: inflation, technology improvements, increased cost of outpatient services, and “defensive” medicine practiced by doctors to prevent lawsuits.

Just two years ago our monthly healthcare cost for each employee was $415. It rose to $469 last year. We were able to absorb that jump without increasing your contribution. This year, monthly healthcare costs increased to $539 per employee. Although maintaining current healthcare benefits will now cost employees $109 per month, Midland continues to pay the major portion of your healthcare program ($430 each month). The enclosed rate schedule describes the costs for families and dependents.

We will begin to investigate alternatives to allow us to manage healthcare costs more aggressively in the future. We believe in continuing to invest both time and money into the good health of Midland’s employees.


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Bad News Memo: Effective our commitment to employees at Midland, Inc. We’re proud that our total benefits package continues to rank among the best in the country.


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The End our commitment to employees at Midland, Inc. We’re proud that our total benefits package continues to rank among the best in the country.


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