5 Letter Templates to Deliver Bad News Compassionately (With Tips)
In life, one of the biggest challenges you will encounter is delivering bad news. For many of us, the experience of playing messenger can easily turn emotional or even painful despite the fact we aren’t on the receiving end.
So what are some of the key things we can do to make sure we deliver bad news like a pro?
Go in Prepared
As obvious as it may seem, this is one of the most common mistakes made by people delivering bad news.
As busy as your personal and professional life is, or as seasoned as you assume you are, you should never assume that you can just stroll into a room, improvise on the delivery, and then proceed to deliver the undesirable news.
The reality is that you will find it hard, if not impossible to do so. Alternatively, it may become hard for you to deliver this news in a manner that allows you to retain your composure. Or the best version of yourself. Of course, you will need to improvise at some point.
However, using a letter template to prepare in advance and ensure that you are ready for any scenarios that may arise during that moment makes it easier for you to improvise. In the end, you are able to deliver the undesirable news in a matter that suits all parties involved.
Find a Way to Balance Detached Directness and Compassion
As much as you need to deliver the unwelcome news within the shortest time possible, you still want to do it with compassion. No one wants to appear like a robot. But you’ll need to strike the balance between caring and caring far too much that you add to the emotion in the room.
You have to find a way to strike a balance between the two extremes—your goal is to get the message out there while showing that you care about the recipient(s).
While striking a middle balance is not an easy fete, it is something that you should strive to work on through the use of a compassion letter template. Try and develop your interpersonal skills and continue improving them with time.
Do Not Neglect Your Personal Well-being
Delivering bad news is never pleasant. A person tasked with the responsibility of delivering such news is likely to feel partially responsible as a result of empathizing with the person on the other end of the table. Regardless of whether the bad news is minor or major, the messenger may feel anxious about how the victim will react.
Whether it is informing someone that they have a chronic condition or someone they love has passed on, it’s important to get it right. For this reason we’ve put together 5 letter templates for 5 different scenarios that you can refer to should you find yourself in a similar position.
Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.
Letter Template 1 | Telling an Entrepreneur Their Business Will Not Be Receiving Your Investment Capital
Dear [Insert Name],
Thank you for your pitch for [Insert Product/Company Name]. We were lucky to receive many strong proposals and we deeply appreciate all the information that you sent us and your patience.
After a lot of careful examination, we have decided not to go further with your project. While we certainly do not doubt that your proposal is of superior quality and your team, we have decided to reject it for [X Reason].
We review our decisions on an annual basis, so please feel free to keep in touch with us for any future opportunities. Best wishes in your future business endeavors.
Thank you again for your patience and your time,
This type of rejection is always difficult to deliver. Always position yourself on the same side as the person whose proposal you are rejecting.
Make it clear that you have made a lot of effort to understand their proposal. Despite your time and effort, you cannot see it as being a viable project.
If you are rejecting a project that someone and their team have spent a lot of time on, it’s important to be sensitive. It’s also beneficial to to other person if you can offer guidance and/or constructive feedback.
Later on, they may re-invent themselves and come back with something you do want to back financially.
Letter Template 2 | Telling A Patient They Have a Life-threatening Condition
Dear [Insert Name],
The last few months have been tough. Many people would be inspired by your courage in facing your challenges and are sending their best wishes for your health.
After your second stem-cell transplant and a round of leukemia, doctors felt that it was prudent to place you in a medically induced coma when you contracted pneumonia. After a recent biopsy last week, we received the unfortunate news that your leukemia has returned.
We deeply regret to inform you that your doctors have informed us that you are unlikely to make a recovery and they will do everything they can to make this journey as easy as possible.
[If viable- insert counselling/ treatment details here].
[Insert Your Name]
Having to tell someone that they have a life threatening condition will feel like an incredible burden. You might worry about the distress it will cause them. There is simply no simple way to break the news.
While some may prefer to do it in person, others may feel a letter allows the recipient time to process. The approach is likely to vary greatly depending on who you are talking to and what condition they have, this letter has been written to use as a starting point.
Letter Template 3 | Informing Someone, Somebody Close to Them Has Passed
Dear [Insert Name],
I regret to inform you that [Insert Name] passed away on last Sunday (25th). They been ill with [Insert Condition] for the past six months, as you know. Despite the fact that she spent her 70th birthday surrounded by family and friends at home, her condition became weak at the start of this month. She passed peacefully at the hospital, having been admitted two weeks ago.
You will be happy to know that her final months were full of laughter and happiness. Once her condition became worse, she was not in any pain and she did not endure much suffering.
Her funeral will be held at St. John’s Cathedral in her home village of Wakefield on Saturday (7th, where she will be laid to rest next to her loving husband [Insert Name]. It would be greatly appreciated if you could attend.
If you are unable to attend but would like to make a donation in lieu of any floral tributes, (in accordance with the wishes of [Insert Name]) we are accepting donations. Details have been attached to this letter.
I am sorry to have to break this news to you and hope we will be able to speak about happier moments the next time I write.
Meanwhile, if you need to talk, I am here for you.
The style and tone of this letter will vary depending on the relationship you have with the recipient. You may also choose to type it or have it handwritten.
Ensure that it is brief and only provides the most important information regarding the deceased, including funeral arrangements.
Letter Template 4 | Telling a Candidate They Didn’t Get Accepted Into Their Chosen Course or Program
[Title] [Insert Full Name]
[Region] [Postal Code]
Dear [Title] [Last Name],
Thank you for your interest in our graduate program at [Insert Institution Name]. We regret to inform you that at this time we are unable to admit you to the [Program Name].
As you know, we examine each application carefully. Decisions to admit students are based on composite details that include comments from the referee, previous performance, proposed research statement, and related professional activities.
I, together with faculty members considered your application in details. The number of applicants who applied for the program exceeds the number of students we can accept.
As a result, we have had to make very difficult decisions. After careful consideration, we concluded that your application as a whole was not as strong as the other applications that we received.
Although I regret to send you this unfavorable response, I appreciate your interest in the program and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
[First Name] [Last Name], PhD
Sending a letter is an important courtesy and emphasizes your position as a school of choice. Your reputation, which is built on one candidate at a time, is important in your ability to attract the best talent to apply to your program.
Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.
This article was originally published on https://nevertherightword.com. If this article appears on any other site other than https://nevertherightword.com without clear referencing it is a violation of the copyright owned by https://nevertherightword.com.
Letter Template 5 | Letting Your Tenant Know They’re Getting Evicted
Notice of Eviction
You are hereby requested to vacate the premises you currently occupy as my tenant at:
City: _________________________________________ State: _______ Zip: ________________
You have two weeks (fourteen days) from the receipt of this eviction notice to vacate the premises or I will seek a court order to evict you. By law, a court order is the final authority on each eviction and if you wish to remain at my premises you may present your case before a judge.
The reason am ending your tenancy is due to failure to pay of rent of $______________.
You may prevent the termination of your tenancy by paying the rent or the landlord’s attorney or to the person to whom you usually make payments. You have to pay this amount in full ten days after getting this notice.
A notice of eviction is a requirement by law. It lets the person know they may no longer continue to occupy your property. In most cases, a lawyer will help you draft this letter.
However, this template can go a long way in stating your intentions clearly to avoid any misunderstandings later.
Our Top Tips For Delivering Bad News in Person
Nonverbal Cues to Help You Deliver Undesirable News
Delivering bad news tends to be difficult no matter how experienced you are at it. Whether letting someone go or having to let someone down the experience often tends to be painful and fraught for all parties involved. The following are nonverbal tips on how to deliver bad news compassionately:
Relax Your Stance
You want to keep your body language congruent with your intentions. The stance you take can either soften the blow of the negative news or make it even more painful for the recipient. If sitting down, go for a more relaxed or open position. Consider poking out the elbows and spreading out the legs.
Smiling has always been seen as a universal softener. But this does not mean that you start beaming your brightest, yet you are about to deliver devastating news.
Pay Attention to Your Eye Movements
Do you know that staring is an indication that you are trying to dominate the other party? Averting your gaze on a constant base also means that you do not care about what you are saying or are disengaged from the conversation in question.
You need to maintain a normal eye contact when delivering negative feedback. Here, you will need to talk a little, turn your gaze away, and then go back to looking at the recipient of your feedback.
Try Mirroring (Within Moderation)
Mirroring requires you to subtly and slowly reflect the mannerisms displayed by your recipient in the course of your conversation. Try and follow some of the small gestures that they are implementing, e.g., smiling or nodding.
As minor as they may appear, the gestures will help evoke familiarity. As the conversation goes on, they will make you appear disarming.
How to Deliver Negative News Like a Professional
Do Not Attempt to Wing It
Keep in mind that a conversation involving the delivery of undesirable news can easily become emotional or heated. The person on the receiving end may feel that you are targeting them or that the news is unfair. In some cases, they could become tempted to try and fight back, which in this case will involve arguing with you.
Make sure to control yourself in a manner that can help diffuse potential conflict among all involved as opposed to adding gasoline to the fire.
If necessary, script a few phrases you can use in your opening statement. The trick here is to prepare for how they will react. Have a reaction for all their possible reactions.
Keep Reminding Yourself Why You Need to Do This
Try to remind yourself why it is necessary that you do this. If you did not make the initial decision, try your best to find out why this decision was made, and how the decision-maker arrived at it. Establish the rationale behind its making and what other possibilities may have been taken into account.
Take Your Time to Choose a Good Time and Place
Negative feedback should only be delivered in a private location. A location that easily minimizes embarrassment. You will want to make sure that the other person gets to retain their dignity even after being provided with a bad news on a review.
In this course, organizational psychologist and executive coach Gemma Roberts explains how to prepare to deliver bad news, manage the meeting itself, and then follow up to ensure clarity and next steps all from the comfort of your laptop.
So there you have it, 5 letter templates for 5 unfortunate scenarios.
As challenging as some of these situations are likely to get for those receiving bad news, the reality is that they are also likely going to psychologically affect the people having to deliver too. If you’re in a similar situation feel free to copy and personalize any of the letters above.
Ensure that you take care of your personal wellbeing even as you struggle to care for the addressee. Every person wants to deliver undesirable news with efficiency, respect, and dignity. With the above tips aim to make the unpleasant task far easier.
At Never the Right Word, our aim is to give you practical examples of how to handle life’s difficult conversations. If you have an awkward situation that you’d like example templates for, request a topic here.
Lastly, if you found this content helpful or want to share your own examples, let us know in the comments. We’d also be delighted if you shared this article and joined us on social media too!
Never the Right Word
Hi there! I’m Amy, and I’m the person behind Never the Right Word. I’m a designer-by-day who’s fascinated by human psychology; you’ll find me learning about what makes others tick through all types of media and good old-fashioned conversation.
In 2019 Never the Right Word was born to fill the gap of ‘how-to’ websites with copy and paste examples showing you EXACTLY what you need to say to steer difficult conversations into positive outcomes.
Relevant Books We Recommend...
If there was a book perfect to go alongside this website THIS would be it. In Delivering Bad News in Good Ways: Turn Difficult Conversations into Purposeful Dialogue, author Alison H. Sigmon, M.Ed., PMP gives project managers a practical, easily applied method for quickly evaluating and effectively responding to the need to deliver unwelcome news appropriately. What we enjoyed most about this book was how each chapter begins with a relatable (and very often hilarious) real-life example with quotes, followed by a concise 3-step solution; Separate, Evaluate, and Deliver. CLICK HERE to get your copy.
Based on 15 years of research at the Harvard Negotiation Project, Difficult Conversations is the definitive work on handling unpleasant exchanges. It teaches us to work through difficult conversations by understanding that we're engaging in three dialogues: the "what happened" conversation (what do we believe was said and done), the "feelings" conversation (the emotional impact on everyone involved), and the "identity" conversation (what does this mean for everyone's opinion of themselves). We recommend this business classic-in-the-making because of its direct practical advice that can be applied to various circumstances. You can get your copy of Difficult Conversations from Book Depository by CLICKING HERE.
In Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy we are shown how we can help others in crisis, by developing compassion for ourselves, raising emotionally strong children, and creating resilient families, and communities. We are taught emotional resilience that's required to face the everyday struggles head-on, preparing us to handle the turbulent unknown parts of life. Option B teaches us how to emerge from our past traumas stronger, focused, tenacious, and with a new perspective on the future. Starting from author Sheryl Sandberg’s personal experience of bereavement, Option B goes beyond her loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. A truly uplifting read. CLICK HERE to get your copy.
The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith. Newly updated and expanded to commemorate its twentieth anniversary, The Grief Recovery Handbook helps people complete the grieving process and move toward recovery and happiness. Drawing from their own histories as well as from others', the authors illustrate how it is possible to recover from grief and regain energy and spontaneity. The Grief Recovery Handbook offers grievers the specific actions needed to move beyond loss such as; faith, career and financial issues, health, and growing up in an alcoholic or dysfunctional home. CLICK HERE to get your copy from Book Depository.
Like Our Site? These Are the Resources We Recommend.
To build this site we used these highly recommended tried-and-tested tools:
We Trust Elegant Themes
The Elegant Themes membership gives you complete access to 87 amazing themes and 3 awesome plugins, including Divi, the ultimate WordPress Theme and Visual Page builder. Elegant Themes have been building the world's most popular WordPress themes for the past 10 years, and rest assured their products will always be improved and maintained.
We Build With Divi Theme
One of the most popular WordPress themes in the world. Building layouts is easy and fast, making it ideal to create mockups and wireframes, prototyping a design, and creating the website itself. Build from the frontend or backend. The builder is intuitive. It's easy to learn and can be used by non-developers to create amazing websites. Check out the official Divi Theme here.
We Customize With Divi Cake Plugins
Divi Cake’s main goal is to help the members of the Divi community find the perfect premium Divi themes, layouts, and plugins created by leading Divi developers and designers. Shop hundreds of premium Divi products like Divi child themes, Divi layouts, and Divi plugins on Divi Cake, the community driven Divi Marketplace. Find out more about Divi Cake here.
We ❤️Shutterstock Media
We get our images from the OG leader in stock assets. Boost your business with the right images. They're royalty-free and ready to use. Footage & Music Libraries. 4k Images Added per Hour. No Daily Download Limit. Speedy Search & Discovery. With flexible plans and countless amounts of premium content uploaded weekly, we couldn't leave Shutterstock off our list.
Skill-Up With LinkedIn Learning
When you want to enhance your professional skills with expert-led, online video tutorials, the only place to go is LinkedIn Learning (Lynda). With a subscription you get 24/7, unlimited access to over 13,000 business, design & tech online courses and with a free month. We like them because we get expert-led courses that we can access anytime, anywhere. What's not to love?
We're Hosted With SiteGround
SiteGround boasts a whole list of fantastic features at amazingly affordable prices. Along with multiple growth options, free site transfers and domains, built in Content Delivery Network integrations, WordPress support AND human support we wouldn't go to anyone else. They're basically faster, safer and more supportive- you can check them out here.
We Trust Grammarly Premium
Even seasoned writers need a helping hand at times, that’s why we trust Grammarly Premium. As the World's Most Accurate Online Grammar Checker, Grammarly Premium goes beyond grammar to help you ensure that everything you write is clear, engaging, and professional. Learn more about Grammarly Premium’s AI-powered assistant here.
Find Graphics With Creative Market
Creative Market is the world’s marketplace for design. Bring your creative projects to life with ready-to-use design assets from independent creators around the world. We love the unique finds, social media templates, vectors you name it they have it. I also doesn't hurt that our founder has a little store on there...