Writing Bad News Messages Letter
Breaking bad news is a fact of business life. Employees of every company from the highest to
lowest will give bad news of some sort almost every day. Often the recipients of bad news do
not take kindly to it, no matter how justified or necessary it is. The critical questions many
business communicators ask themselves daily are these: How can I give bad news and yet
retain my recipient’s goodwill? How can I also avoid creating legal liability or responsibility?
Offering strategies to help business communicators find answers to these questions is the crux
of chapter 6.
This chapter focuses on using the indirect pattern to deliver negative messages that include
refusing typical requests, declining invitations, and delivering bad news to employees and
customers. The chapter also provides tips on communicating bad news in other cultures.
The indirect pattern requires writers to focus on how messages affect receivers. Relationshiporiented writers like the indirect pattern because they care about how a message will affect its
receiver. This chapter provides tips and techniques.
Do not forget to upload your work under TurnItIn in this section.
Strategies for Delivering Bad News
A. Primary and Secondary Goals in Communicating Bad News
• Make the receiver understand the bad news.
• Have the receiver accept the bad news.
• Maintain a positive image of you and your organization.
• Reduce bad feelings.
• Convey fairness.
• Eliminate future correspondence.
Avoid creating legal liability or responsibility for you or your organization.
B. Using the Indirect Pattern to Prepare the Reader
• Revealing bad news slowly and indirectly shows sensitivity to your reader.
• The indirect strategy keeps reader’s attention until you can explain the reasons for
the bad news.
• The indirect plan consists of four parts:
1. Buffer. Begin with a neutral statement.
2. Reasons. Provide an explanation of the causes for the bad news before
3. Bad news. Provide a clear but understated announcement of the bad news.
4. Closing. Include a personalized, pleasant statement.
C. When to Use the Direct Pattern
• When the receiver may overlook the bad news
• When organization policy suggests directness
• When the receiver prefers directness
• When firmness is necessary
• When the bad news is not damaging
Your bad news message letter will be evaluated as follows.
Delivering Bad News Sensitively
A. Buffering the Opening
• Convey best news first
• Give compliment to the receiver
• Give appreciation to the receiver
• Agreeing with the receiver
• Mere stating facts
• Convey an understanding of the receiver’s situation
• Apologize if you or your company erred.
• Apologize sincerely.
• Accept responsibility.
C. Conveying Empathy
• Convey empathy, the ability to understand and enter into the feelings of another.
D. Presenting the Reasons
• Explain clearly.
• Cite reader benefits, if plausible.
• Explain company policy, if relevant.
• Choose positive words.
• Show that the matter was treated seriously and fairly.
E. Cushioning the Bad News
• Position the bad news strategically; avoid the spotlight.
• Use the passive voice.
• Accentuate the positive.
• Imply the refusal.
• Suggest a compromise or an alternative.
F. Closing Pleasantly
• Forward look
• Information about alternatives
• Good wishes
• Resale or sales promotion
How your submission will be graded:
Rubric Structure of Bad News Messages Letter
• Opening: A statement that buffers the bad news message (5 points)
• Body: Details that: apologizing, convey empathy, presenting reasons, and cushioning
• Closing: Pleasant closing statements (5 points)
Writing Bad News Messages Letter