writingGiving and receiving bad news is an unhappy fact of business life because it disappoints, irritates, and even angers both the givers and the receivers. So, it must be written carefully. The negative feelings associated with bad news can be reduced if the reader knows the reasons for the rejection, and the bad news is revealed with sensitivity.

Three Basic Goals in Communicating Bad News
  1. The reader must accept the bad news.
  2. The good image of the writer/organisation must be maintained; and
  3. The message must be clear so that future correspondence on the matter is unnecessary.
The Direct Approach to Breaking Bad News
This is an approach which states the bad news at the beginning of the message.  Starting with the bad news at the beginning has the advantage of requiring the audience to spend less time before reaching the main message.

Emails are often organized so that the bad news comes before the reasons.  Often in business people expect internal correspondence to be brief and direct, regardless of whether or not the news is positive or negative.  But you still need to use a tactful tone, to focus on the reasons, and a courteous close.

Messages using the direct tone tend to communicate the feeling that the writer is firm and strong, so they are often most appropriate in situations where it is a memo to a subordinate or a colleague, rather than a superior.  However, the direct approach is appropriate if you know that your boss prefers internal messages to get right to the point.  It is also appropriate if the message has little personal impact, and if you want to make your point in an emphatic (strong) way.

When you write a message using the direct plan, you can use the following structure.