Conveying bad news

The more bad news, complaints or criticism in a message, the more likely it will be to provoke a negative reaction. This reduces your chance of gaining the reader’s agreement.  So, always try to emphasise the positive.

For example: If you don’t send your payment, we won’t be able to renew your membership. (Negative)

Please send your payment so that we can renew your membership. (Positive)

Don’t labour over the apologies – using words such as ‘sorry’ or ‘regret’ only serves to emphasise bad news and adds to the reader’s sense of loss.

Letters carrying bad news are more acceptable if you talk with the readers, and express empathy. “I can appreciate your feelings about the delay”, “We recognise your position and the effect this change will have on your plans” or “I can understand your concern about the present arrangement.”