Emailing Bad News…The Sandwich Approach

I’ve previously written that communication in writing is the worst way to communicate. But what if you have to communicate that way and on top of that, you have bad news to deliver? Whether in a letter or an email, one technique can make the bad news a little less disheartening.

Write your message like a sandwich. Put the bad news in the middle. If you can find some good news to start with, and end with a positive tone, then it makes the bad news easier to consume.

This method isn’t the only way to deliver bad news in writing. Another way is as an open-faced sandwich, with the bad news in the beginning, but with positive reinforcement thereafter. Here’s an example of that approach, in a rejection letter to a candidate for a law clerkship:

“Although I am unable to offer you a position, I very much appreciate the interest you expressed in a clerkship with me. Your talent is evident, and I regret that demands on my time precluded an interview with you.

With best wishes for a rewarding career in the law….”

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