Negative News – How to Kill the Negativity

Negative News

This article discusses the procedure of writing negative news messages. Hence, it explains in detail the structure and format of such messages.

What is a negative message?

“A Negative news or Bad News Message is a message that evokes negative emotions and/or response in the mind of the receiver.”

a man in black punching on the table to show negative news response

How do you write a bad news message? or negative news message?

For writing negative news or bad news messages, we use indirect organizational plan. Thus you may lose your customer if you say a direct ‘No’. Indirect plan eases the audience into your message by explaining the reasons before delivering the bad news. Presenting the reasons first increases your chances of gaining audience’s acceptance by preparing the reader for the negative news to come.

Indirect organizational plan has four steps.


Begin your negative news message with reader interest information. This phase of your letter is called buffer. The buffer should be pleasant, honest and neutral in tone. Hence, avoid statements that give the impression that there is some good news to come.

Explanation and Analysis

Include honest convincing reasons why the matter has to be dealt with differently from the way the reader wants. Remember the following suggestions:

  • Try to convince the reader that you are acting in their best interest in the long run, or according to the policy that affects all equally.
  • Explain courteously all the relevant facts behind your decision. Mention first the favourable factors, then the less favourable ones.
  • Show that the request has been carefully considered for the reader’s benefit as well as your company’s benefit.


In order to make your decision clear, positive, and concise, you have these alternatives:

  • If the reasons are so clear that your reader will conclude you must refuse the request, you can omit negatives entirely and make the bad news decision clear stating it implicitly i.e. not clearly. For example, if you are already scheduled as a luncheon speaker in COMSATS University, on January 16, you do not need to say “Thus I cannot attend your luncheon in COMSATS that day.”
  • If you think that an implied decision will create misunderstanding, express your decision clearly near the end of the explanation. Be careful not to mislead or otherwise cause uncertainty regarding your decision. Thus the best place for a negative decision is in the middle of a paragraph, and never in a paragraph itself.
  • If you can, offer a constructive suggestion. If you emphasize the possibilities, you may clearly imply the impossibilities without actually using negative language.

Friendly, Positive Close

End your letter with a positive note, with one or more of the following ideas:

  • Appreciate the reader as a good customer. Show your interest in their well-being.
  • Invite future dealings and give precious suggestions.
  • Make clear whatever action you want them to take or do.

Express continued interest, service, and reader benefit. Do not repeat the bad news.

Relevant Post

Good News Messages

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Abbas

    Please edit this line in second paragraph.
    “For writing bad news messages, we use direct organisational plan.”
    Here we use indirect organisational plan instead of direct organisational plan.

  2. Syeda Aqsa

    In Buffer paragraph there is a mistake of spelling (letter) .

  3. kashir

    Thus I cannot attend your luncheon in COMSATS that day. please also end with “.

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