Writing a Bad News Answer
to a Request or Complaint Letter
Points for Writing the "Bad News"
Response to Request/Complaint
"Bad News" Letter Format
(usually three or
Don't deliver the bad news in the opening paragraph.
Always try to tell what you CAN do before you
say what you CAN'T do.
Explain the WHY before you deliver the bad news. For many
readers, once they see the NO they don't pay attention to the WHY.
Remember that a major goal is to maintain a positive
relationship with the reader. Do whatever you can to help the reader
understand and accept your message.
- When you are through writing the letter, make sure the message that you cannot grant the request
Example of a
"bad news" letter
- Opening paragraph: show appreciation for the reader, but
don't deliver the "bad news" here. This is your buffer
- Middle: give the reasons why you cannot
grant the request--then deliver the bad news. This is the hard part
of the letter to write. Remember that your
goal is to help the reader understand and accept your decision. Try to state
the refusal in a positive way. Sometimes you can soften the blow by
inferring the bad news and still leave a clear understanding with the
- Closing paragraph. If at all possible, state something you
CAN do for the reader in the closing. In any case, provide the reader with a
suggested action to remedy the situation. Close with a positive statement.