1. Complete the prewriting for the negative message letter:
· Prewriting prepares you to write and helps you organize your ideas.
· You may print the lesson and jot notes for yourself on the paper, or you may write notes on your own.
· You do not have to submit prewriting for any points, but don’t skip this important step!
2. Complete a draft of the negative message letter:
· Read the case, Exercise 11.20. Write a modified block letter. Refer to Figure 9.3 and 9.4 in Module 9 for more information. You will have three paragraphs:
· Paragraph 1: explain the problem or situation. Make this paragrph 5-7 lines in length.
· Paragraph 2: give the bad news and present alternatives. Make this paragraph 5-7 lines in length.
· Paragraph 3: give a sincere goodwill ending. This paragraphy only needs to be 2-3 lines in length.
A note on using passive voice in negative letters: When you give negative news, you don’t want to put emphasis on any negative actions. Therefore, you may use passive voice verbs when giving bad news and when explaining the circumstances for the bad news. In other words, you may use is, are, was, were, be, been, being, or am in the first paragraph–the explanation–and in the second paragraph where you give the bad news. However, for the alternatives, use action verbs. Alternatives offer positives for the reader, so you want to emphasize those actions.
Read the case from Exercise 11.20. Write a letter in modified block format and address the letter to the customer based on the information in the business case. Remember, the store is in Chicago and the customer must live in that area.
Determine: the bad news before you start writing, but remember the bad news will go in your second paragraph.
Think about the most positive way you can present the bad news.
First Paragraph Brainstorm and Write: explanations for the bad news. In this paragraph, you want explain so the reader will accept the news. Since you’re focusing on negatives, it’s okay to use passive voice verbs. You never want to emphasize negatives.
Make your explanation clear and specific, and avoid placing blame or fault. Also, don’t refer to company policy. Think about your own reaction when you hear that “it’s not policy” as an excuse. Remember, you want your readers to accept the bad news. They will be more likely to accept your news if they understand the reasons why instead of referring to policy.
Second Paragraph Write: the bad news and alternatives. You may use a passive voice verb in the sentence that gives the bad news. State the news clearly and compactly. You do not need to apologize. Next, discuss alternatives in detail. Use action verbs when writing the alternatives since these offer positives for the reader.
Third Paragraph Write: A goodwill ending. Sentences such as “I look forward to doing business with you,” or “Please contact us if you need more assistance,” seem insincere. After all, you have just given bad news! Instead, write a forward positive statement. Use your imagination and best judgement!
The correct use of these criteria will determine your grade on your final letter:
· The letter is organized correctly:
1. The first paragraph provides explanation, and does NOT give the bad news. This paragraph is 5-7 lines in length.
2. The second paragraph gives the bad news clearly and compactly in the most positive way possible. The paragraph offers detailed alternatives. This paragraph is 5-7 lines in length.
3. The third paragraph offers a goodwill ending that makes a sincere, positive, and forward statement. This paragraph is 2-3 lines in length.
· The letter does not use “I, me, my, myself, we,” or “the company name ______.”
· Explanation is kept impersonal without placing blame.
· “You” is not used when referring the negative situations and/or to blame the reader or to blame others.
· The letter uses positive words and de-emphasizes the negative information. Avoids the use of negative words such as “no” and “limited,” plus most “un-words, in-words,” and so forth (refer to chapter 7 for a list).
· The letter does not refer to the reader’s or the writer’s feelings at all.
· The writing includes specific and accurate word choice and details and does NOT use the following words: thing, good, really, very, extremely, wonderful, outstanding, or any synonym of the above (refer to the online lesson in week 2 on using precise words).
· The letter contains specific and precise alternatives. When writing alternatives, the sentences use active versus passive voice. (refer to the online lesson in week 2 on action verbs).
· The writing uses familiar words.
· The writing uses no slang, cliches, trite or over-used expressions, and no biased or sexist language. (Be sure the salutation goes to Ms. if the letter is addressed to a woman).
· The writing is free of typographical errors.
· Words are spelled and used correctly.
· Commas, quotation marks, and other punctuation marks are used correctly.
· The writing contains correct grammar without sentence fragments, comma splices, and run-on sentences.
· The letter is formatted correctly:
1. Modified block format is used.
2. 12 point Calibri or Times New Roman font is used.
3. Spacing is correct.
4. The letter includes a company letterhead, date, inside address to an individual at a company, a salutation followed by colon, three paragraphs, and a close.
5. All components except for the letterhead are lined up on the left margin.
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