Writing and Revising
Indirect or Deferred-Load
Letters For Negative News,
Persuasion, and Sales
Just as there are situations within corporations and government agencies that may be the subject of internal, negative-news memos, there are situations requiring external, negative-news letters. An unsubstantiated claim about a product must be denied. A request for sensitive information must be turned down. Requests for donations to charitable events cannot always be granted. Requests to attend and address meetings cannot always be accepted.
While most people realize that they cannot agree to every request, they still are disappointed when someone turns down their request. Some people give a shrug, adapt, and find someone else or some other way to get their need fulfilled. But others get annoyed, even hostile, when turned down.
Learning how to write a sensitive, empathetic negative-news letter is a very important skill. It might not make the bad news pretty, but it can prevent hard feelings of rejection and a nasty trip down the slippery slope of ill will.
Persuasive and sales letters, while not explicitly carrying bad news, can face a similarly unwelcome reception. For this reason, writers of such letters should use the same indirect pattern that negative-news writers employ, namely, the indirect or deferred load method.
The most important aspect of the indirect pattern is placing the central idea at a later stage in the letter. This is not to suggest that we leave our readers guessing or in the dark at the beginning of negative