Probably you will refuse because the facts of the case justify refusing. When this is the case, you can
review the facts and appeal to fair play.
And there can be other reasons. In all cases, study the facts and work out as convincing an explanation
as you can.
With your strategy developed, you next put it into message form.
Begin indirectly with words that meet these requirements:
1. They clearly indicate that you are responding to the request.
2. They are neutral—that is, they do not imply yes or no.
3. They set up the strategy you have devised.
For example, if you are responding to a request for permission to use a company’s grounds for a political
fundraiser and you must say no, you might begin: “We are honored by your request for permission to
hold your important event on our grounds. Our landscapers have worked hard to create a place that
adds beauty to the community, and we are happy to host community events whenever possible.”
These words are about the subject of the request, so they obviously indicate an answer to the request.
They do not give away the answer. And they set up the strategy (that the company can host community
events only when they are not a>liated with a particular political or religious cause).
The reasoning set up by the opening follows. You present your reasoning as convincingly as you can,
taking care to avoid unnecessary negative wording and to use the you-viewpoint.
A.er you have presented your case, you refuse. Take care to use no unnecessary negatives, making this
part as positive as the situation permits. Avoid harsh words such as “I refuse,” “will not,” and “cannot.”
Timeworn apologies such as “I deeply regret” or “I am sorry to say” emphasize the negative and can
Avoid giving the refusal undue emphasis—by position, space, or wording.
A compromise can o.en be used to so.en the refusal and build goodwill. When this is possible, take
advantage of it. For example: “The best we can do . . .”; “Have you considered . . .”; “You might want to . .
.”; “May I suggest that you . . .”; or other ways that direct your reader toward at least a partial solution to
Good closing talk is something pleasant that does not dwell on the refusal. What you choose to use will
depend on the facts of the case. But select something that &ts the situation—something you might say if
you were face to face with the reader.