Few situations are more uncomfortable than having to tell an employee or a customer, "No." Business people often feel that refusal to comply with requests creates bad feelings about them and the business, which could affect future sales. Even worse, when a client or employee appeals a decision you may find yourself having to say no not once, but twice. At this point the writer is worried about the correct tone to use and how much information to reveal, lest the correspondence causes further inquiries or even legal action.
Obtain a piece of company letterhead to use for your reply. A response to an appeal represents the final word on the matter, and using official letterhead helps to convey the impression of authority.
Type the date, skip a space and type the recipient's full name and address.
Skip another space, type "Dear Mr./Ms.(insert name)" followed by a colon. If you feel that special firmness is necessary, omit "dear" and simply type the recipient's name. Skip another space.
In the first paragraph, tell the recipient right away if her appeal is granted, and explain briefly why she received her request.
If you are not granting the appeal, thank the recipient for her interest in your business or for her hard work, and at the end of the paragraph give her the bad news. Positioning the bad news at the end of the paragraph allows you the opportunity to soften the blow first, which helps retain the recipient's goodwill. Explain the rationale for denying the request briefly; avoid giving so much detail that the recipient can examine the policy and second-guess you.
Provide any additional follow-up information in the second paragraph. If you denied the appeal, let her know that your decision is final and that the matter is closed.
Type "Regards," or "Sincerely," and skip three line spaces. Print the letter and sign above your name in blue or black ink. Retain a copy of the letter for your records.
Send the letter by certified mail in order to retain a record of your reply and proof that the recipient received the letter. This record may be important if the matter goes to court.
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.