Module 11 - Negative Messages
Layoffs and Firings: Use a written message to accompany an oral one. The written
statement should start either with the reason or with the decision itself. Don’t use a
buffer. In layoff situations, communicate the organization’s situation long before the
actual layoff. Before firing someone, double-check the facts. Give the employee the real
reason for the firing.
In-Class Exercise: Have students form groups (of 3-5, depending on your class
size). Let each group explain one of the issues involved with writing each of three
kinds of negative messages described in this module.
Appendix 11-A shows a checklist for writing negative messages.
How can I apply what I’ve learned in this module? LO 11-6
Plan your activities and answer the PAIBOC questions.
PAIBOC can help students to create solutions. For more information on PAIBOC, review
Module 1 (PP 1-21 and PP 1-22 list the PAIBOC components).
The problem illustrated in this section is an excellent tool to help students see a “real world”
application of negative message principles. Take students through each step of the process,
especially the analysis of the problem.
In-Class Exercise: No single solution is likely to appeal to everyone. Have student
analyze the suggested solution here. Is there anything they would do differently? If
so, why? Make sure students analyze carefully suggestions for alternate courses of
action—a solution that seems useful on the surface may see less appropriate upon
further examination. Where possible, use PAIBOC as a framework for analysis and
the checklist on p. 180 to review qualities of a good negative message.
In-Class Exercise: Have students form groups (of 3-5, depending on your class size).
Let each group explain one of the PAIBOC components and how it helps with the
analysis of the problem.
Last Word: Negative messages can be among the harder business communication
documents to write. As such, these messages often require students to have a good
sense of business writing fundamentals. Let students see how basic principles of
language choice, building goodwill, and audience analysis help in composing
negative messages. Contrast these principles to those of informative and positive
messages. What can students learn from the contrast?
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