Goals in Communicating Bad NewsExample: Request for Donation from your company • Acceptance • Positive image • Message clarity (to avoid additional correspondence) • Protection (avoid creating legal liability) • Don’t use careless language (plant tour example) • Avoid the “good-guy” syndrome (p. 278)
Thinking about Delivering Bad News • How do you do it in your personal life? • What are some techniques you could use to soften the blow of bad news?
The Indirect Pattern Prepares the Reader • Bad news is generally easier to accept when broken gradually • Revealing bad news slowly and indirectly shows sensitivity to your reader • By preparing your reader, it softens the impact of the bad news • If you start with the bad news, the reader may toss the letter before getting to the explanation
Sometimes we’ll still use the Direct Pattern for Bad News • When the receiver may overlook the bad news (rate increases, etc.) • When the receiver prefers directness • When firmness is necessary (for example, the last of a series of collection letters) • When the bad news is insignificant (see next slide)
Example of Not-So-Bad NewsWhere we Should Use the Direct Method Our meter reader has reported that your shrubs have grown to the point that it is very difficult to read your electric meter clearly and accurately. The shrubs obscure the meter and must be pushed out of the way. This makes the job of the meter reader much more difficult. Please help us by trimming your shrubs so that we can provide you with consistent and accurate readings. Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated. Activity 11.1
Exercise 10.1 on page 300Deciding whether to use the direct vs. the indirect approach • Please type the answers individually (direct or indirect), and wait to print. Be prepared to explain why you would use the direct or the indirect method.
Four-Part Indirect Pattern for Bad News • Buffer Open with a neutral but meaningful statement that does not mention the bad news • Reasons Explain the causes of the bad news before disclosing it • Bad News Reveal the bad news without emphasizing it. Provide an alternative or compromise, if possible • Closing End with a personalized, forward-looking, pleasant statement. Avoid referring to the bad news
Example: Letter denying request to speak Buffer: Showing Appreciation Reasons: Explain the cause of the bad news without disclosing the bad news Bad News: Disclose the bad news without emphasizing it. Provide an alternative, if possible Closing: End with a personalized, forward-looking, pleasant statement. Avoid referring to the bad news Thank you for your invitation to speak at your banquet May 5. I am honored to be considered as a speaker by your organization. I am presently working on a new e-marketing book with a June 1 deadline. Therefore, I unfortunately do not have the time to make this presentation. However, I can recommend Anderson B. Andrews as a substitute speaker. He has coauthored some of my books and helps with my research. He is particularly knowledgeable about technology trends, and I think your organization would find him to be an interesting speaker. Thank you again for the honor of asking me to speak at your banquet. Your support and interest in my books is appreciated.
Buffering the Opening • The intent of the buffer is to reduce shock or pain. Examples: • If there is good news and bad news, start with the good news • Begin with a compliment, if appropriate • Give appreciation • Agree with the reader about something • Provide facts • Show understanding • Give an apology, if appropriate Activity 10.1 – Write an opening statement for each situation. Use buffers for the indirect messages (make assumptions if necessary).
Present the bad news without emphasizing it • Use the passive-voice Example: We did not hire you for the position. The position was filled by another applicant.
Present the bad news without emphasizing it • Subordinate bad news (put it in a subordinate clause) Before Example: Unfortunately, we no longer print a complete catalog. However, we now offer all of our catalog choices at our Web site, which is always current. After Example: Although a printed catalog is not offered, we do offer a complete list of all of our current catalog choices at our Web site. Activities 10.2 and 10.3 on page 301