How To Write a Bad News Email (With Steps and Examples)

You have two options when giving bad news: either deliver it directly or soften it by providing an explanation beforehand. Be direct if the bad news is minor or if your reader anticipates it. But in most cases, the second approach is better. Bad news messages can be arranged using the straightforward BEBE formula. This chapter shows you how.

Writing a bad news email. Professional communication skills

How to write a bad news email

To create an email that effectively conveys bad news, follow these guidelines:

1. Gather facts

Before sending a difficult email, gather all the relevant facts. So that your message is timely and accurate, you want to have as much information as you can. Be knowledgeable so you can respond to any inquiries your recipient may have about the circumstance.

2. Review company policies

When giving bad news, make sure you are adhering to all company policies and procedures. Consult your company’s manual, and if you require clarification or direction, contact the HR department.

3. Decide if an email is the best channel

Consider the information you need to convey, and choose the most effective way to do so. Some matters, such as those that are delicate in nature, might necessitate a phone call or in-person meeting. In many cases, though, sending a bad news email is appropriate because it enables you to organize your thoughts and immediately reach your recipient. Additionally, sending an email records the conversation in writing.

4. Choose the correct tone

Depending on the email’s subject and recipient, your language and tone may change. When writing to team members, you may use more casual language, while when writing to clients, you may use a more formal tone. Avoid overly upbeat language that might confuse your reader by keeping your style appropriate for the situation.

5. Share the news at the beginning

Deliver the bad news quickly in an email. After a brief introduction, discuss the reason for your email. Share the news early in the message; otherwise, readers may miss it or misinterpret it.

6. Give an explanation

Give the reader enough background so they can understand how and why the issue occurred. Avoid sending too much background information in the email and refrain from providing justifications. Justify the situation’s facts and the factors that contributed to the issue.

7. Apologize if you are at fault

Apologize for your part in the situation if you are at fault. Avoid overly emotional language. Instead, you should accept responsibility for your error and convey your regret in a professional manner.

For instance, rather than apologizing for what they did, Instead of saying, “I can’t stop thinking about this terrible mistake I did,” try saying, “I apologize for my lapse in judgment.” I’m determined to use this experience to grow and will make every effort to prevent a repeat of it. “.

8. Offer a resolution

After you have described the circumstance, offer a solution. Think about your audience and what you can provide for them that might allay their concerns, make up for lost time or money, or regain their trust in you or your business. This might entail providing a customer with a refund or gift card, providing an employee with a paid day off, or volunteering to put in extra time to make up for an error.

9. Provide a way for the reader to contact you

Your reader may have concerns or questions. Include your best contact details so they can get in touch with you and discuss any additional issues. Find time in your schedule to accommodate the recipient’s request to speak with them in person if they so request.

Reasons for sending a bad news email

You might need to break bad news in a professional setting for a variety of reasons, including:

You might need to send an unpleasant email to a manager, coworker, client, or customer depending on the circumstance. These emails could be about anything, from minor annoyances like forgetting to sign a form to significant problems like informing staff members of impending layoffs.

Tips for writing an email with bad news

Here are some pointers for crafting an email with bad news:

Examples of bad news emails

You can use the following two examples of bad news emails as a template to create your own:

Example 1: Bad news to a customer

Dear Mr. Singh,

I am sorry to inform you that we are out of stock of the item from your order #891. This was an unfortunate technical error on our part. I am very sorry for the mistake.

The money has been returned to your original payment method. Within three to five business days, it ought to be reflected in your account. I’ve also included a $50 gift card that you can use in any of our stores or online.

Again, I apologize for our mistake. If you have any questions, please call me at 123-555-6789 or send me an email.


Jane Ko
Customer Support Specialist

Example 2: Bad news to an employee


I regret to have to let you know that we will not be able to host this year’s Black Tie Gala. We’ve had several conversations with our management and financial team and have determined that in order to stabilize the business for the upcoming year, we must redirect these expenses to other areas.

I am aware that you put in a lot of effort for this event every year, and we are grateful for your efforts. We hope to bring back the gala the following year, but we are unable to commit at this time.

I am sorry for this unfortunate news. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this matter further, kindly call me at 123-555-9876.


Jane Ko
Account Manager


How do you write a bad news email?

How to write a bad news email
  1. Gather facts. Before sending a difficult email, gather all the relevant facts.
  2. Review company policies. …
  3. Decide if an email is the best channel. …
  4. Choose the correct tone. …
  5. Share the news at the beginning. …
  6. Give an explanation. …
  7. Apologize if you are at fault. …
  8. Offer a resolution.

How do you inform someone of bad news?

  1. There is no easy way to say this, but…
  2. Unfortunately…
  3. I’m sorry to have to tell you that…
  4. I’ve got some bad news…
  5. I regret that …
  6. Maybe you should sit down for this…
  7. I am so sorry, but…

How do you say bad news in a positive way?

Describe the current situation or your criteria for coming to a negative decision in more detail. State the bad news (as positively as possible). Offer an alternative to meet the person’s goals, when possible. End with a goodwill statement focused on the future.

How do you write a bad news letter?

Be brief. One good reason is preferable to several weak ones. If helpful, explain company policy. State the bad news in the middle or at the end of a paragraph.

Prepare to draft.
  1. Consider what your reader wants or expects.
  2. Gather work-related reasons for your news.
  3. If appropriate, explore other options for the reader.

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