How to Write an Informal Negative Letter

If the recipient's goodwill isn't an issue, write an informal negative letter.
If the recipient's goodwill isn't an issue, write an informal negative letter. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

When you have to give bad news, you feel uncomfortable. A formal letter conveying bad news can make the situation even more uncomfortable and artificial, especially if you know the recipient of the letter well. If the recipient is a friend or valued client, their goodwill is probably not an issue, especially if the news isn't traumatic. In that case, you might choose to write an informal letter stating the bad news and asking for the recipient's cooperation in the matter.

Begin the letter by typing the date. Even if the letter isn't formal, you still need to establish a timeline in case the recipient does not take the news well. Type "Dear (Name)" followed by a colon. If you are on a first-name basis, feel free to use his first name.

Give the recipient the bad news right away, and tell them what you or she can do about it. For example, you might say, "Your parts didn't come in today, but I am going to call the distributor and make sure they are scheduled to be delivered tomorrow."

Apologize for the inconvenience or for not being able to give him better news. If the situation will improve or if there is good news as well as bad news, play up the good news. For example, "I am sorry for the inconvenience this may cause, but the distributor said he would give you a 20 percent discount for your trouble."

Thank her for her understanding and provide your phone number in case she has questions.

Print the letter on company letterhead, if you have it. Even though it is an informal communication, it is still an official communication from your company. Sign the letter with your name.

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