Module 11 - Negative Messages
A Checklist for Negative Messages
□ Is the subject line appropriate?
□ If a buffer is used, does it avoid suggesting either a positive or a negative response?
□ Is the reason, if it is given, presented before the refusal? Is the reason watertight, with no
□ Is the negative information clear?
□ Is an alternative given if a good one is available? Does the message provide all the
information needed to act on the alternative but leave the choice up to the reader?
□ Does the last paragraph avoid repeating the negative information?
□ Is tone acceptable—not defensive, but not cold, preachy, or arrogant either?
And, for all messages, not just negative ones,
□ Does the message use you-attitude and positive emphasis?
□ Is the style easy to read and friendly?
□ Is the visual design of the message inviting?
□ Is the format correct?
□ Does the message use standard grammar? Is it free from typos?
Originality in a negative message may come from
□ An effective buffer, if one is appropriate.
□ A clear, complete statement of the reason for the refusal.
□ A good alternative, clearly presented, which shows that you’re thinking about what the reader
□ Adding details that show you’re thinking about a speci$c organization and the specific people
in that organization.
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