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Refusing Requests

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BUFFER – identifies previous correspondence incidentally or in subject line – begins with a neutral statement on which both reader and writer can agree

TRANSITION- plants key idea or word
– leads naturally to explanation

EXPLANATION- presents valid reasons for refusal
– avoids red-flag words that forecasts bad news
– includes resale or sales promotion material if appropriate BAD NEWS- softens the blow by deemphasizing the refusal
ALTERNATIVE- suggests a compromise, alternative, or substitute if possible CLOSING- renews good feelings with a positive statement
– avoids referring bad news
– looks forward to continued business

INEFFECTIVE REQUEST REFUSAL -begins with a needless information that could be implied
– creates a harsh tone with such negative words
– (sorry, must refuse, violate and liable)
– Throws self-serving comment
– Reveals only tiny bits of the desired data
– Sounds syrupy and quite insincere
EFFECTIVE REQUEST REFUSAL-reflects the writer’s genuine interest in the request – does not implicate compliance
– reasons for refusing a request are objectively presented in an explanation that precedes the refusal – offers more alternative
– looks to the future

DIRECTNESS is ineffective for a bad news because blunting out the bad news at the beginning of the message may cause the reader to be in a poor fame of mind to receive the remainder of the message .reasons for refusal and
explanations may never be seen.

-INDIRECT METHOD -allows the writer to explain before announcing bad news. The principal goal of the indirect strategy is presenting the reason and explanation before revealing the bad news. Some readers, However, may prefer to have bad news announced directly.

Indirect strategy’s six elements:
Bad news
Goodwill closing

Before applying the indirect strategy analyze the reasons underlying the bad news.

An effective buffer is neutral, upbeat, and relevant.

Neutral- does not signal the bad news that is to follow nor falsely suggest that good news will be forthcoming

Upbeat- emphasizes something positive for the reader(resale material that relates to a product, a compliment or praise for the reader or statement that builds goodwill.

Relevant- refers to the situation at hand

Ex. A letter denying the request for credit for merchandise that a customer wishes to return employs a resale buffer. Your selection of an ambassador top-grain pigskin leather attaché case is a smart one, Mrs. Silva, because these cases combine fashionable styling with fine workmanship and peerless leathers.

Try not to forecast bad news nor falsely imply good news.

Reference to a key word or idea builds a transition between the buffer and the following exlanation.


After the opening buffer statement, use a transition that guides the reader to the explanation that follows. Avoid red-flag words:
They are dead giveaways that a bad news is to come.

Notice how the key words candidate and contribution forms a link between the buffer ant\d the explanation for refusing the request.

Your efforts to build a campaign chest for city council candidate BUFFER Gladys Harris are commendable. This candidate deserves the
support of civic-minded businesses and individuals who are able to make contributions. TRANSITION

Your candidate, if elected, will help administer funds to municipal EXPLANATION departments and offices. As you may know, a significant portion of our business involves providing supplies or city offices. City council members who have accepted campaign contributions from vendors supplying city accounts maybe accused of conflict of interest. Rather than place your candidate in this awkward position, our attorney advises us to avoid making financial contributions to the campaigns of the city council candidates. BAD NEWS Although we are unable to provide financial support many of our employees will be contributing their time and efforts to work personally for the election of your candidate. ALTERNATIVE

We hope that the participation of our staff will contribute to a successful campaign for Gladys Harris. GOODWILL CLOSING

-The most important part of a negative letter.
– the principal reason for using indirect method

Without sound reasons for denying a request, or refusing claim the letter will fail no matter how cleverly it is written. We want to be able to explain before refusing.

-explanation should show that you have analyzed the situation carefully -tell clearly why refusal is necessary(the item is no longer under warranty, or never warrantied ,product failed because it was misused, cash refund cannot be granted for an item that cannot be resold) -Strive to project an unemotional, objective and helpful tone. -don’t lecture or patronize If you read the instructions carefully) -avoid sounding presumptuous (I’m sure the salesperson who demonstrated this unit explained that,…..) -don’t hide behind company policy(our company policy prevents us from granting your requests) -if you have more than one reason for refusing, BEGIN WITH THE STRONGEST REASON -Present that bad news

-continue with the additional reasons for refusing

The success of the negative letter depends on how well the explanation is presented.


-avoid spotlight- don’t put the bad news in a conspicuous position(first and last sentences of the letter and the beginnings and ends of sentences and paragraphs) -USE LONG SENTENCE – longer sentence diffuse the bad news and gives you a chance to explain the bad news or offer alternatives -PUT THE BAD NEWS IN A SUBORDINATE CLAUSE- the reader will less likely to dwell on it Ex. (although your credit application cannot be approved this time….) -USE PASSIVE VOICE- focuses attentions on actions rather than personalities, – it helps you be impersonal and tactful -Be CLEAR BUT NOT OVERLY GRAPHIC- clear but not painfully vivid(provides too many details) Ex. ( we cannot pay for your freelance services in cash as you request. Such payment is clearly illegal and violates federal law. All freelance services that we authorize must be supported by check payments to individuals whose social security numbers are included in the record of the payment) Instead

(federal law requires that payments to freelancers be made by check and be supported by social security numbers) It is more tactful if it were less direct and less graphic.

-IMPLY REFUSAL- it does not have to be stated directly
Instead of hammering home the bad news
( therefore, we cannot contribute to this campaign),,,

Rather than place your candidate in this awkward position, our attorney advises us to avoid making financial contributions to the campaigns of the city council candidates.

-OFFER AN ALTERNATIVE- if appropriate, suggest some recourse to the reader -might be a compromise, a substitute, or an alternative offer -important means of maintaining good relations with customers


– renew good feelings between the reader and the writer


-don’t refer to the bad news- focus on the positive, friendly remarks and don’t revive the emotions regarding the bad news -don’t conclude with clichés-ex.(if we may be of further service or thank you for understanding our position) sounds insincere and ironic -don’t invite further correspondence-ex.(if you have any further questions \or if you would like to discuss this further )

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