S1E8: Giving News Transcript
Welcome to episode 8 where we’ll talk about ways to give positive and negative news via email.
- Via (preposition) travelling through (a place) en route to a destination.
- Variation (noun) a change or slight difference in condition, amount, or level, typically within certain limits.
- Hyperbolic (adj) deliberately exaggerated.
- Hyperbole (noun) exaggeration.
- Familiarity (noun) close acquaintance with or knowledge of something.
- Demeanour (noun) outward behaviour or bearing.
- Bookending (verb) be positioned at the end or on either side of (something).
- Dependant (noun) a person who relies on another, especially a family member, for financial support.
- Arguably (adverb) it may be argued (used to qualify the statement of an opinion or belief).
- Endeavour (noun) an attempt to achieve a goal.
- Longlist (noun) a list of selected names or things from which a shortlist is to be compiled.
One of the best, most exciting openings to an email is, ‘We are pleased to inform you…’ Upon receiving those six words the reader knows they are about to receive some very good news.
There are variations of the previous phrase such as ‘We are happy to tell you…’, ‘we are delighted to inform you…’ Notice the small difference between all of these phrases is the adjective. This is what changes. ‘Pleased’, ‘happy’, ‘delighted’ all are positive adjectives, letting the reader of the e-mail know what is ahead.
There are other ways to express this. The use of the noun ‘congratulations’ is hugely positive. (This is a good word to use when somebody has won a competition, been successful at something, such as getting a job, completing a task.)
When writing a positive email, it’s important not to be hyperbolic. With hyperbole comes familiarity and with familiarity comes an informal tone. This is what we are trying to avoid. You must remember that you are writing a business email therefore the tone should always be professional and formal whilst maintaining a friendly demeanour. So here are a few examples of how to finish your positive emails:
‘Congratulations, again’ is a perfectly reasonable and professional way to end an email. It may seem like you’re repeating yourself but think of it as bookending.
The next example is a series of three phrases each beginning with ‘we look forward to’ you could go on to say, ‘we look forward to meeting you later/we look forward to seeing you/we look forward to working with you’, all of those are dependant, of course, on the situation you’re talking about.
Nobody enjoys giving bad news. It’s an unfortunate but necessary part of business. Giving bad news via email, however, can be seen as a little bit easier because you don’t have to look the person in the face. Arguably, however, it is harder, because you have to consider what words to use. Here are some examples…
‘We regret to inform you…’ This example is the opposite of the first positive example. The verb ‘regret’ (which means to feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over something tells the reader that the following email does not contain good news. It prepares them for the fact they have probably failed in their job hunt/their application for funding.
In the following examples the verb has been replaced with an adjective. ‘I’m sorry, but…’ In this instance, the adjective is ‘sorry’, in the next it is ‘afraid’: ‘I am afraid that… / I am afraid to inform you…’ These phrases are soft but professional. You don’t want to use the imperative voice too strongly when it comes to giving bad news.
The adverb ‘unfortunately’ is another good way to start an email when delivering bad news. You could say, ‘Unfortunately, your application has been unsuccessful at this time.’ The important thing to do, when giving negative news, is to try and end your email in a positive way. For example, you could say, ‘we wish you all the luck in the future’ or ‘we wish you all the best with your future endeavours.’
You could even choose to be more personal and decide to say something specific about the person you’re emailing. For example, ‘You are clearly very talented and you were on our longlist, however, on this occasion we have decided…’
Giving news is just one of the many ways we use email in business. In the penultimate episode of season 1, I’ll explain how you can ask for information.