A letter, memo, or email that provides unfavorable and negative information that is likely to make the reader disappointed, upset, and possibly become angry, is commonly known as a bad-news message in business writing. It is often referred to as a negative message or an indirect message.
Rejections (in response to job applications, promotion requests, and the like), negative assessments, and announcements of policy changes are all examples of bad news messages.
A neutral or positive comment serves as a buffer after a bad news message introducing unfavorable or bad facts. The indirect plan is the name of this strategy.
Messages that fail to come up to the hopes of the readers are taken as Bad News Messages. Such messages are conveyed in any one of the following situations:
- Refusing an information
- Conveying bad news about orders
- Denying cooperation with Routine Requests
- Declining invitations and requests for favors
- Refusing adjustment of claims and complaints
- Rejecting a job applicant
Rules to Follow While Delivering Bad News Messages
Be open and truthful
In giving unpleasant news, you should start by being straightforward. Avoid rejecting the issue or attempting to sugarcoat things because doing so will just exacerbate the situation and produce confusion.
Being open and honest with your clients will help you prevent unpleasant shocks later. Giving the consumer the news up front is preferable to trying to keep things from them later, which could lead to additional issues in the long term. Being patient is a virtue when working with challenging clients.
You can use some phrases while dealing with a difficult client
- The project is likely to be delayed due to some conflicts.
- We are unable to renew the contract with you.
- We are sorry for the inconvenience.
Be sympathetic and understanding
When giving bad news, it’s essential to keep in mind that you’re working with clients who are probably going through a difficult time.
Be kind and sympathetic, and let them know that you understand what they are going through. Customers sometimes require time to understand bad news because it comes as a complete surprise to them.
Simply being there for them can make a world of difference; you are not required to give them false optimism or make promises you can’t keep.
Some phrases to use here:
- We are here to help you out through all these stages.
- We are sorry about its happening.
- This is challenging for you.
Ready to help
Sometimes the best response to bad news is to simply endure it. Make sure to offer any assistance when you have to deliver bad news.
This will demonstrate that, despite how hopeless things may seem right now, you’re prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to improve the situation for all parties. It’s a chance to offer excellent customer service.
Offer your sincere apologies for the inconvenience
When giving bad news, it’s necessary to express regret for the trouble this has caused. By demonstrating that you are attentive to how the bad news affects your clients, you make things easier moving ahead for everyone involved.
The mishap shouldn’t be attributed to anyone, whether your client, your staff, or anyone else. This gives a sense that you’re trying to find someone to blame, and it does neither you nor the business appear professional.
Instead, accept full responsibility for the circumstance, even if you had no direct influence on how it came about.
Phrases to use:
- We are extremely sorry that our products do not meet your needs.
- Please accept our apologies for the trouble you have faced.
Plan for Bad News Messages and Unfavorable Replies to Requests
The Bad News (Indirect Approach) has the following four points structure:
- Buffer Statement.
- Reasons Supporting the Negative Decision.
- Statement of the Bad News Decision.
- Friendly, Positive Close.
The term, Buffer means cushion, pillow, guard, absorber etc. As a pillow or a cushion protects you against a hit or punch, buffer saves you from your reader’s anger. A buffer statement should be neutral, relevant and not misleading.
Reasons supporting the negative decision
After making a suitable buffer statement, the writer should present reasons to show that his decision is reasonable and fair. He should give concise enough detail for the reader to make him understand his reasons. Here he has to be tactful by highlighting the possible benefits of the decision.
Statement of the bad news decision
The Statement of the Negative Decision is the most important part of a bad news message. In view of the fact that the writer is going to convey a negative decision to the reader, he should do it as painlessly as possible. If the bad news is the logical outcome of the reasons that come before it, the reader is already psychologically prepared to receive it.
Friendly, positive close
Close your letter with a friendly and positive note appreciating the reader as a valued customer. Also, request him to continue his future patronage and express your interest in his affairs. The courteous close may also include your offer to be helpful in the future.
Demonstrations of Bad News Messages
Letter refusing information
Thank you for your letter of July 5, asking us for the list of names and addresses of our clients.
You shall appreciate that being professional and dedicated people, our first commitment is with our clients. In no way do they want us to let anyone have their personal particulars. You shall also appreciate that fair business deals are founded on mutual trust, and you would certainly not like us to be unfair to our clients.
In this situation, it shall not be possible for us to provide you with the list of our however, willing to extend to you all clients, as desired by you. We are, however, willing to extend to you all possible cooperation at our personal end.
Kindly do write if we can do anything for you.
Letter regretting execution of an order
Your order for 40 color monitors, is sincerely appreciated. We regret to inform you that the monitors you require have already been sold out. Since the demand for these monitors- is very rare. we have not been stocking them. But only getting them against indent orders.
You are requested to please let us know if we may order them, especially for you. Otherwise, we have, available in our ready stock, monitors, of the latest model. These monitors are a little higher in price but, on account of their being superior in quality, we are Sure, you will like them.
We wait to hear from you soon.
Letter denying cooperation with routine requests
Your offer to provide training in Marketing Styles and Skills to our Sales Agents sounds very much fascinating. We thank you for taking this organization into your consideration.
We, however, regret that because of our Sale Campaign ‘being at its peak we shall not be able to spare our Sales Agents for the proposed training programme.
Let us look forward to an opportunity when we can tie up with you in this regard.
Letter refusing adjustment of claim
Thank you for your claim; it has been received along with 20 color monitors. We fully agree with you that you have a right to demand high-quality products. We appreciate your concern in this regard.
Your claim has, in fact, surprised us because before the consignment was shipped to you. it was duly checked by our Quality Section to ensure that it was strictly in accordance with the specifications given by you. Furthermore, from a close examination of the monitors returned by you. it appears that they have been used maybe once or twice.
We are, therefore, sending these monitors back to you with the request to let us know if we could do anything else for you.
Letter rejecting a job applicant
Dear Mr Afzal Ahmed,
We should congratulate you on your educational achievements. Your academic record is really brilliant and impressive.
In fact, as many as 65 persons had offered their candidature for this position, and most of them were well-qualified. After much deliberations. we settled on a person who has a vast experience at his credit. Moreover, he is computer literate and knows how to keep and maintain data.
We thank you for having your confidence in our organization. We are sure, a person with your qualifications should be able to find just the right position.
Messages that fail to come up to the hopes of the readers are taken as Bad-News Messages. When it’s time to deliver bad news, it’s important to prioritize the consumer and come up with alternatives that will satisfy them. Even though unpleasant, difficult conversations don’t have to be bad.
By putting yourself in the situation of your customer, you are able to frame the conversation in a way that demonstrates how much you respect their satisfaction. Even if you have bad news to share with your consumers, it’s important to convey your sincerity and make sure they feel listened to and valued.
When you have to break bad news, presentation is equally important as content. It is no matter how awful is the news if it is delivered in a positive way and with the customer’s consideration, your company will triumph in this difficult situation.