Negative Message

Learning Objectives

  • Use your research and understanding of an organization in order to develop an effective negative message.
  • Choose a strategic approach for a negative message based on its target audience.
  • Demonstrate effective goodwill, positive-emphasis, and you-attitude in a negative message.

Purpose and Description

This assignment will allow you to practice the application of audience analysis and positive emphasis while delivering an effective negative message (clear, concise, complete, and correct).

For this assignment you will use your selected company/audience from the audience profile assignment to compose a negative message in email format.

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You will have creative license to create details like names and dates for your message, but please follow your chosen scenario closely.

Communication Scenario

To deal with a growing problem of employee morale, your company recently hired a consulting firm to survey employees to find out how they feel about their job in the company and what aspects of the organization could be improved to boost their productivity and level of commitment to the company’s mission.

You were assigned to work with the consultants and present their findings to upper management. However, you didn’t welcome the task because you suspect you’ll have to present information that is critical of the management team.

As you feared, the researchers deliver a mixture of news that is mostly negative:

  • 81% of employees believe management doesn’t recognize employee achievements/accomplishments enough
  • 55% aren’t working the job they were originally contracted for when they started
  • 40% believe the pay scale hasn’t kept up with the growing amount of work expected of them
  • 38% think management has done a good job of providing other opportunities for professional development/advancement
  • 52% expect to finish their careers at the company

While you’re reviewing the report, considering how to deliver the information, your CEO sends an email requesting a summary of the results before tomorrow’s meeting.

You will need to ensure that your message is professional and that it accomplishes the following:

  • Utilizes the audience focus addressed in the audience profile assignment.
  • Informs your CEO of the information found via the survey.
  • Gives background, details, and clarification of what it will mean for your company.
  • Presents any possible information with a positive emphasis.
  • Explains benefits to the company (i.e. financial, professional, other).
  • Uses a goodwill ending: positive, personal, and forward-looking.

Include an informative and specific subject line, a clear and concise organizational pattern (see Ch. 9), and end with an electronic signature.


  • Primary: Your superior

Assignment Components & Expectations

  • Utilize your research from the audience profile to identify and cater to the primary audience.
  • Demonstrate awareness of audiences other than the primary.
  • Analyze and apply audience benefits, including audiences other than the primary.
  • Compose a message that includes all the information needed by the audience.
  • Use of positive emphasis, goodwill, and you-attitude.
  • Apply effective email etiquette and formatting techniques.
  • Successful use of subject lines, buffers, reasons, refusals, alternatives, and endings.


  • Chapter 2: Adapting Your Message to Your Audience
    • Audience Analysis pg 37-41
    • Audience Benefits pgs 42-45
  • Chapter 3: Building Goodwill
    • You-Attitude pgs 57-60
    • Positive Emphasis pgs 60-65
  • Chapter 9: Delivering Negative Messages
    • Figure 9.1 “How to Organize Negative Messages” pg 260
    • The Parts of a Negative Message pg 264-267
    • Tone in Negative Messages pg270
    • Figure 9.10 “Checklist for Negative Messages” pgs 276-277

Requirements: see required

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