Types of Sensitive Messages Refusals Complaints Adjustments Collections Any others?
Important Components Context – (buffer) – introduce the subject and establish a professional tone Explanation – Review the facts that lead logically to the bad news, but try to see things from your reader’s point of view Bad news – state the bad news clearly and concisely Goodwill – in closing, to (re)establish a strong relationship, demonstrate your respect for the reader, etc.
Tips Avoid repeating the bad news Always sandwich the bad news between less sensitive points or gestures of goodwill Do not write bad news letters when you’re angry, feeling guilty, etc. Try to separate your emotions from the writing Anticipate reader reactions and protests Be sure to explain the logical reasons for the bad news Address your letter to the correct person or department
Writing Tactful Adjustment Letters Address your reader respectfully, whether you apologize, explain, educate, or offer an adjustment. Explain what caused the problem if such an explanation will help restore your reader’s confidence or goodwill. Explain specifically how you intend to make the adjustment if it is not obvious in your opening. Express appreciation to the customer for calling your attention to the situation, explaining that this helps your firm keep the quality of its product or service high.
Writing Tactful Adjustment Letters Point out any steps you may be taking to prevent a recurrence of whatever went wrong, giving the customer as much credit as the facts allow. Avoid recalling the problem in your closing (“Again, we apologize . . .”). Close positively, looking forward, not back.
Tone and Language Choices The tone should always be professional, respectful, sincere, gracious, and assertive Avoid “charged” words – words that have very negative connotations and may insult or anger your reader Avoid being defensive, demanding, aggressive, in your tone or your language Remember, people usually want peaceful resolutions to problems . . . as the saying goes “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”