Delivering Unwelcome News: Writing Sensitive Correspondence

Writing clear, fresh, and engaging correspondence challenges your writing skills. The challenge is even greater when you must refuse an application for funding, decline a request, respond unfavourably to a complaint, or convey other news your reader is likely to perceive as unwelcome. In the face of your reader’s resistance, you must deliver your message clearly and firmly. At the same time, you must strike the right tone and respond with sensitivity to your reader’s feelings.

This one-day workshop focuses on understanding the dynamics between writer and reader and learning to write sensitive correspondence with impeccable professionalism. You’ll practise writing letters that help retain your reader’s respect by delivering unwelcome news with clarity, accuracy, and diplomacy.

  • Topics
  • Audience
  • Instructor
  • Understanding writer/reader dynamics

  • Modulating tone and delivering bad news professionally

  • Buffering without burying: balancing directness with and diplomacy

  • Keeping the human edge: avoiding the temptation to hide behind stock phrasing and abstract wording

  • Representing your organization and working within its conventions

  • Cutting distractions, deadwood, redundancy, and fuzz

  • Anyone who writes letters declining funding or services
  • Anyone who responds to complaints or grievances
  • Anyone who must write letters that deliver bad news or other letters where the right tone is particularly important

Melanie Sexton, Ph.D., is an editor, technical writer, and instructor, with more than 20 years experience teaching University courses and workshops in grammar and writing skills. As technical writer and editor, she has designed on-line help systems for software applications, edited technical documentation suites, written style guides and standards, and managed a variety of writing projects. She also happens to be profoundly deaf and has designed and delivered workshops on deafness and disability issues for both government and private-sector clients. 

Very interesting course. It provided many useful examples and tips to facilitate writing. Great class! Very enjoyable.

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