Letter Writing Techniques: Good News Letters vs. Bad News Letters

There are different strategies and techniques to discuss when writing good and bad news letters. In good news letters to a writer you are conveying good news to the recipient. The first paragraph (introduction) provides the topic of the good news (reason for the letter). The second paragraph (discussion) provides the details of the good news and the third paragraph (conclusion) calls for action.

Bad news letters use the indirect approach and open with a neutral idea while providing supporting facts and evidence. The second paragraph introduces the reason for the bad news letter. The third paragraph ends with a neutral closing. Tact and courtesy are required when writing a bad news letter. A bad news letter writer should pay attention to tone and structure throughout the letter to avoid future problems. Writers must avoid offending the reader.

All writing is a form of persuasion. A writer tries to persuade her reader to understand her point of view. Attention to wording is essential in a bad news business letter to avoid violating the code of ethics. An example of a reason for a bad news letter is:

A company I work for has been advised to reduce the cost of labor by any means possible. The only option I have is to terminate all temporary positions within the company. This decision requires you to write bad news letters to each of the temporary employees, firing them and explaining to each the reason for termination. I must be careful to use tact and courtesy throughout the letter and make it clear that your job performance was excellent and did not influence my company’s decision. When writing to the employee, I must offer severance pay and write a letter of recommendation to help the employee with the job search. Also, medical benefits must be extended for a short time after termination. Also, let the employee know that with his given qualifications and proven skills, I am sure he will find another position in the near future. End on a calm, ascending happy note.

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