How To Write Difficult Correspondence

How To Write Difficult Correspondence

3.10 131We’ve all had instances of things not going our way from mix-ups with a retail outlet, an incorrect credit card charge, poor service from a utility, etc.  Whatever it may be, we suggest that you work toward a solution in writing.  Written communication allows you to have a paper trail of your account so that you can refer back to it if necessary.  When writing to someone to express dissatisfaction, use this format:

  • After the formal greeting (Dear John,), your first sentence should always state the reason you are writing the letter. Include all the basics (who, what, when, where and why). For example, “I’m writing to you to because I did not receive the items I purchased from your website on April 13, 2015, order number 12345.”
  • Then, ask for what you want: “I would like to receive a full refund for the items that I did not receive.”  Knowing what you want upfront, provides the recipient a clear message on how the problem will be alleviated for you.  It also crafts the conversation as solution-oriented versus a gripe fest.
  • Your second, and subsequent, paragraphs may explain the situation further or provide reasons to support your displeasure. Cite any previously agreed upon contracts or sales receipts, and attach these documents to your letter.  Photos are also excellent supplemental information to include, such as in a case of a car insurance dispute.
  • Provide your contact information in the final paragraph: “Please contact me anytime at _______ (email and/or phone).”
  • Say thank you. “Thank you for your attention to this matter.”
  • Sign off.  Sincerely, Joy

Stick to the facts. Be as clear and succinct as possible.  Copy other relevant individuals on the correspondence so that there are other parties aware of the interaction.  You may want to give the recipient a deadline for response, such as “If I do not hear from you within one week, I will follow up you with you by phone.” If you do have a phone conversation, record the date, time and conversation highlights and send a follow up letter to document the conversation.  This letter can begin, “Thank you for your time to talk about my situation on the phone on May 1,” and summarize what was agreed upon in discussion.  Remember to keep a friendly, respectful tone.  These situations can be stressful and have a tendency to make you feel defensive.  Neutralize any negative emotions by smiling when writing your correspondence or talking to the other party. This immediately lifts your moods and puts you in a positive stance.

Unpleasant situations happen to all of us. Empower yourself by addressing the issue in writing, and suggest a solution. Be open and flexible to compromise.  You may be surprised at how easily things will be ironed out.

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