About Negative Messages

This website presents a summary of Chapter 11 | Negative Messages

GUFFEY, M.E. (2010) Business Communication: Process and Product (3rd Ed). Toronto, Ontario.

Negative Messages – Wikipedia Definition


Delivering negative messages is certainly of of the hardest tasks company managers have to face on a daily basis. If bad news is not delivered correctly, it could have a bad impact on other employees in the company, thus affect its productivity.

There are several strategies that can be used to deliver these messages. Managers can avoid disappointment by giving the receiver the cause for the rejection and by revealing the news sensitively. Although the matter must always be dealt with seriousness and fairness.

In addition, there are primary and secondary goals that must be kept in mind when delivering bad messages. These goals will be transmitted either through indirect and direct patterns, depending on the receiver’s situation and the company’s organization policy.

Moreover, there’s a process in delivering negative messages known as the 3X3 writing process. This involves three major steps that must be undertaken before delivering the news to the receiver. First of all, messages should be analyzed, anticipated and adapted in the pre-writing. Secondly, the writing must contain research, organization and it has to be structured. Finally, the letter should be proofread and evaluated before delivering to its receiver. Furthermore, abusive and careless language should be avoided in the negative messages as well as statements that make managers feel better about themselves but that may be inaccurate.

Several techniques must also be taken into consideration when delivering a negative message. The message should begin with a buffer to reduce the shock or pain to the receiver; it could either be an appreciation or a compliment. The reasons must then be explained clearly before delivering the bad message. Unfortunately, when it’s delivered, disappointment cannot be prevented; however, the person delivering the information can work towards reducing the shock. The bad news itself should be positioned strategically and a passive voice should be used throughout the dialogue. And finally, the letter should be concluded pleasantly by anticipating future relations and good wishes.


The general ideas behind “How to deliver negative messages” can be listed as the following.


  • Goals
  • Strategies
  • Techniques
  • Receivers
  • 3-x-3 writing
  • Buffer, Reasons, Bad News, Closing
  • Legal Liability
  • Routine Requests
  • Sensitivity
  • Disappointment

These 10 key elements are addressed and detailed within this website for comprehensive understanding of the delivery of negatives messages and bad news.

For the wikipedia.com definition and information about Negative Messages, please refer to <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_Messages>

For the SPECIFIC sub-category on zenome.com, please refer to  Zenome.com > Business + Work > Business Communication: Process and Products > 11





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